As promised earlier this year, the first round of grants from SF's Music and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund is about to beginning taking applications.
The fund, spearheaded by Supervisor Matt Haney and given its initial $3 million in funding from the city's $24.8 million surprise surplus, will be administered by the city's Office of Small Business, in partnership with the Controller, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Entertainment Commission. And music and nightlife venues can apply for grants of $10,000 or more — with priority given to venues in "imminent danger" of closing, and those over 15 years old.
"These music and entertainment venues are part of what makes San Francisco such a special place to live and visit,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. "This past year has been devastating for the entertainment sector, and these local funds will help these businesses hang on until they can start operating again."
Sharky Laguana, president of the San Francisco Small Business Commission and himself a musician, said in a statement, "Live music venues have not been able to be open for even a single day, at any capacity, for over a year. They have been among the hardest hit businesses in San Francisco, and as a result are hanging on by a thread. Many have been forced to permanently close."
Laguana added, "Music is a central part of San Francisco’s identity and history, and speaking as a musician, I don’t want to even think about our city without our beloved venues. This aid will make a big difference, and help keep music alive in San Francisco."
In announcing the funding last month, Supervisor Haney said, "Our nightlife and entertainment venues are an important cornerstone of our city’s economy, and a vital part of our history and culture. Our venues need this money, they need it now, and we need our venues."
Still, this $3 million will only cover a fraction of the need that's out there, given that most venues remain closed and are slipping deeper into debt each month. Haney has expressed the hope that private donors line up to bolster the fund as well.
A $16 billion portion of the December COVID relief package is allocated to nightlife and culture venues and is called the Save Our Stages Act — but the Small Business Administration still has not opened up the application process for those grants, nearly four months into the year. As KQED reports, the Small Business Administration announced that an application portal would go live April 8, but typical for government work, it crashed without taking any applications and has been dark ever since.
Venues are permitted to open at limited capacity with masks required in San Francisco, however most venues say they are waiting until they can operate at full capacity, because otherwise they will be losing more money by being open.