Independent theaters await much needed COVID-19 financial relief in Arizona

Independent theaters in Arizona have been waiting for COVID-19 relief money from Congress as concerts have been almost nonexistent during the pandemic.

They got the chance to apply for that money this week, but then the website crashed.

Marquee Theater General Manager Tracy Henderson says their first show on April 1 was the first time the venue brought in any money in more than a year.

"Definitely very trying. The owner thankfully has kept us afloat so that we were able to reopen. The mood with the patrons coming in was excitement, that’s all there is to it," she said.

Theaters were thrown a much-needed lifeline in December. $16 billion for relief was included for them in a package passed by Congress.

It took four months for the Small Business Administration to start taking applications, however, the process was brought to a halt.

"It gives you a QR code, it was working, and then it doesn’t give you that code. We couldn’t log in. We were here for two hours trying to get into it so we can try the application process. We saw everyone was having that problem, so then they said that the websites down," Henderson said.

Disappointing is an understatement.

The Marquee Theater and other venues are left waiting for the money they desperately need.

"That is supposed to help us with booking the bands, helping the bands come, paying the staff, and here we are again on the edge of the cliff, hanging on by the skin of our nails, trying to just make it through until something happens," Henderson said.

The Small Business Administration says it hopes to have the issue resolved by the week of April 19.