Music Venues Still Waiting For Federal Help After Relief Package Passes

Saturday, February 27th 2021, 6:56 pm
By: Ashley Holden


Venues across the state are desperately waiting for help from the federal government. 

The Save Our Stages Act passed along with larger pandemic relief package back in December.

“The reality is: We will not survive without that money,” Tower Theatre managing partner Stephen Tyler said.

Both Tyler and Chad Whitehead, also managing partners of the theatre in Oklahoma City, said they have seen artists suffer and venues close due the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We've been at a 90 percent-plus revenue loss for over a year now and that's not sustainable,” Tyler Whitehead said.

Like so many others across the country, the two pushed hard for the Save Our Stages Act.  

"The guidelines state that it’s 45 percent of your revenue from 2019. For us, I'll just say that's well over seven figures,” Whitehead said. 

Now, they are left waiting to apply, so the Whiteheads contacted the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Oklahoma district office for answers. 

“They just don’t have any updates for us,” Whitehead said.

The SBA district offices staff told News 9 that, nationally, they are trying to avoid problems like fraud and other issues they’ve dealt with when providing other pandemic aid.

Staff in Oklahoma act as a middleman but said this is a normal timeframe for this type of program. 

"So we are all trying to see where this program is and also get it out so people can take advantage of it,” U.S. Small Business Administration’s Oklahoma district director John Veal said.

The managing partners at Tower Theatre said they are reaching out to local representatives and the national SBA offices. Right now, they’re just hoping venues can hang on until applications are accepted and funding flows through.

News 9 also reached out to Oklahoma delegates about the Save Our Stages Act.

“While I recognize the challenge of implementing a new program, I’m frustrated that our venues are unable to access the Save our Stages Act that I voted for last year and are unclear as to when the program will open,” Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe said in a statement. “Once the Senate confirms the new SBA Administrator, I urge her to move quickly to open up this critical program.”