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UPDATE: 405 days since Chicago’s independent music venues shuttered

Chicago Independent Venue League |

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application landing since April 8, 2021.

160,000 jobs, millions in revenue lost as the promise of federal financial relief to one of the city's largest job sectors goes unfulfilled

The Small Business Administration is a major roadblock preventing independent live music venues from reclaiming the jobs our business sector lost during the pandemic.”
— Joe Shanahan - Chicago Independent Venue League
CHICAGO, IL, USA, April 22, 2021 / -- ---

Today marks the 405th day since live music, arts, culture, and entertainment venues shuttered due to COVID-19. Since then, more than 160,000 jobs in these sectors have been lost and millions of dollars stripped from Chicago's economy. More than $16 billion in relief was designated exclusively for independent music venues when The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was signed into law in December. Not a single dollar has been dispersed.

"We expect the Small Business Administration to understand the most valuable outcome of small business: jobs. Every Chicago Independent Venue League member, regardless of size, has staff to bring back to work and staff who want to come back to work. The Small Business Administration is a major roadblock preventing independent live music venues from reclaiming the jobs our business sector lost during the pandemic."
- Joe Shanahan
Chicago Independent Venue League board member and founder of Metro/ smartbar / GMan

The SBA's attempt to accept applications earlier this month failed spectacularly. Applications were set to be accepted online starting April 8. The online portal crashed within hours without a single application being accepted. 15 days later, Chicago's independent live music venues have no idea when they will be able to submit the application they've spent weeks preparing.

“Support without action is meaningless to an entire industry that ground to a halt. Chicago’s independent music venues, along with venues across the country, acted responsibly by closing our doors during the pandemic. We are counting on the SBA as the consequences for our businesses become more dire each day.”
-Robert Gomez
Chicago Independent Venue League co-chair and owner of Subterranean, Beat Kitchen and Beat Kitchen on the Riverwalk

Illinois taxpayers showed their support of local business by funding the The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act - the $15 billion bipartisan relief bill from which the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants are funded with an additional $1.25 billion included in The American Rescue Plan Act. More than $16 billion in critically needed relief has been promised and has yet to be delivered.

Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) advocates on behalf of Chicago’s independently owned and operated concert venues and music halls. Founded in 2018, CIVL works to ensure the long-term viability of its member venues so they may continue to provide event-goers with enjoyable live music experiences.

Chicago’s reputation as a world renowned live music hub is largely due to independently owned and operated music venues’ legacies of nurturing homegrown talent. Performers from every genre are afforded opportunities to earn national recognition. More than 50 CIVL member venues proudly represent Chicago’s culture and musical style.

CIVL is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization. Visit for more information or to contribute.

Ryan Arnold
DeSoto & State Communications, Inc.
+1 312-600-7380
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