It's been three months since money was approved for businesses in the entertainment and live events industry to cover losses from the pandemic.
But they have yet to receive it.
The issue was highlighted during a virtual panel for SXSW this week, partly lead by Congressman Roger Williams, who represents Texas’ 25th congressional district.
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He was joined by musicians Pat Green and Lou Charle$, as well as venue owners like Walter Kinzie of Encore Live in Fort Worth.
“This is a group that is all of you know were the first to close down and the last to open,” Williams said.
Williams was part of the effort in Congress for the Save Our Stages Act. The initiative was worked into the December COVID-19 relief bill, which allocated $15 billion for the losses entertainment venues suffered while struggling to re-open.
Williams – who represents Austin and a portion of North Texas – spoke with NBC 5 about it from Washington.
“This is a bipartisan bill. I’m a Republican we also have Democrats that supported this. It’s kind of unheard of here,” he said.
The funding is open to concert venues, movie theaters and stage theaters to apply.
The grant funding is controlled by the Small Business Administration. However, it has been 10 weeks and the SBA has yet to release any solid information about how these businesses can even apply for that money.
Lawmakers have been lighting a fire to expedite this process, with some effect so far.
So far, Williams believes the application process will be allowed to begin on April 1.
“We’re working through [the SBA] and I want some urgency out of them. We need to get the money flowing. Once the money gets flowing, it’s going to be 30 days before some of the venue owners actually see it, so it’s important we get going now,” he said.
Williams said the SBA is blaming the delay on the transition of power in the White House and short staffing.