Last week, Senator Bill Hagerty from Tennessee met with Isabel Guzman, the Head of the U.S. Small Business Administration to get an update on the status of the rollout of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. On June 15, Hagerty and 163 other members of Congress sent a letter to Guzman expressing frustration over the slow pace of awarding grants. At that point, fewer than 100 venues had been awarded grants out of more than 14,000 which had applied, with 99% of their applications still under review, almost six months after the emergency relief program had been enacted. According to Hagerty, the Congressional letter and public outcry appears to have “done the job.” Guzman reported to Hagerty that the SVOG program “had her full attention,” and that “most applications will be processed by early July.”
As of this past Monday 1,445 grants had been awarded, with 5,853 under review and 7,118 still waiting their turn. For some theatres, the delay in receiving this support has postponed their ability to make necessary repairs and upgrades, such as installing reclining seats in auditoriums and investing to be able to offer beer & wine and enhanced concessions. Offering such amenities may prove to be critical in luring back moviegoers and operating profitably.