The Small Business Administration announced late Thursday that it will reopen the portal for Shuttered Venue Operators Grants on Sat., April 24.
The portal has been closed since the afternoon of April 8, when it experienced technical difficulties a few hours after the program’s launch. The agency said it has now “completed rigorous testing” on the portal and is prepared to provide updated documents and guidance to applicants Friday.
In addition to the technical difficulties, previous guidelines for the grant program contained contradicting and incorrect information, according to prospective applicants.
Broadway theater owners, producers and theater offices have been awaiting the relaunch of the program, which could provide each recipient grants of up to $10 million. The timing of the program’s roll-out is critical, as the grants are considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
The SBA previously set a goal of reopening the portal by the end of this week. In response, dozens of legislators sent a letter to the agency Monday, urging the SBA to meet its deadline and to allow for a corrections process, so that applicants can fix obvious technical errors rather than being denied a grant.
Still, the decision to reopen the portal Saturday was quickly met with ire on Twitter — where the announcement was made — as users spoke to the inability of those who observe Shabbat to use electronics that day, as well as the quick turnaround for parents needing to find childcare.
The Small Business Administration has more than $16 billion to distribute to an estimated 30,000 or more applicants. Ahead of the portal’s opening on April 8, the Office of Inspector General, which monitors the Department of Commerce’s programs, expressed “serious concerns” about the grant program’s management due to a lack of staff and insufficient organizational structure.
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020