The Tower Theatre and other businesses are shown in the Uptown District along NW 23 between Walker Ave. and Hudson Ave. on Thursday, March 26, 2020. [The Oklahoman Archives]

Starting Thursday, owners and operators of live performance venues in Oklahoma City may apply for COVID-19 disaster relief funds from the City of Oklahoma City’s Small Business Continuity Program. 

Applications will be open starting Thursday at okcSmallBizHelp.com.

As The Oklahoman‘s William Crum reported, the Oklahoma City Council last week approved $2 million for a new program to help live performance venues in OKC, which have struggled through months of canceled shows, postponed concerts and scrapped events since the coronavirus pandemic hit Oklahoma in March. 

Entertainment venues may apply for up to $250,000 for lost revenue, payroll and other eligible expenses. To qualify, venues must demonstrate that 50% or more of their revenue is derived from paid performance tickets, according to a news release. 

The application for the performance venue program will remain open until all funds are allocated, on a first come, first served basis. Only businesses located in Oklahoma City are eligible. To see a map to determine eligibility, go to okc.gov/citylimits.

 “This assistance will help preserve our access to cultural events, live entertainment and performing arts. These businesses have seen dramatic revenue decreases over the past five months,” said Cathy O’Connor, president and CEO of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, in a statement. “We want to make sure Oklahoma City protects these important assets in our community.”

The City of Oklahoma City, the Alliance and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber built the framework for the Small Business Continuity Program. It’s based on research of what other communities are doing nationally and globally to save their local small businesses as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to the news release. 

Back in May, I spoke to the operators of several OKC music venues about the difficulty of reopening a business that depends on gathering large crowds in the midst of a pandemic. To read that story, click here. 


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