PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - It's been more than a year since most people have been to a concert or play, and that reality has been hard on everyone, especially local entertainment venues.

Starting Thursday, entertainment venues affected by the pandemic will be able to apply for a new federal grant that just launched.

"We were actually quite involved in the lobbying effort to help get this grant program started," said Cynthia Fuhrman with Portland Center Stage.

The U.S. Small Business Administration's "Shuttered Venue Operators Grant" program - or SVOG - began accepting applications Thursday. The grants will help venue operators get paychecks to workers, cover rent and utilities, and help some avoid permanent closure.

"When we were successful in December, we’ve all just been waiting for the day to come when the program was going to be up and running," Fuhrman said. "It's very impactful and helpful, and we’re very grateful that it came through."

SBA Shuttered Venue Grants

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It's not just live venue operators who can apply - museum operators, zoos, aquariums and motion picture theater operators can also apply for the money.

While many people miss the entertainment, the financial struggle from the pandemic spreads to artists who can't perform, food service workers, merchandise vendors, and more.

"It has been really hard, but this is a very resilient sector - a very creative sector," Fuhrman said. So I think people are supporting each other well and trying to work a lot of collaboration to see that we get to the other side."

Venues being able to open up to audiences again is dependent on COVID-19 case numbers and the risk category each county falls into.

Fuhrman says Portland Center Stage is hoping and planning for a return this fall.

Businesses that would like to apply for a grant can to do so at www.sba.gov/svogrant.

SBA temporarily suspended the application portal Thursday afternoon due to technical difficulties. SBA says it "will share advance notice of the time and date before the reopening so all applicants can be prepared and to ensure equitable access."

Copyright 2021 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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