The government vows to fix a plagued relief program for live-event businesses.


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Tracey Tee, the executive director of Band of Mothers Media, which runs a comedy tour for women, received an email last week from the SBA with the same news that has embarrassed thousands of venue owners and producers across the country. “Your name,” says the email, “appears on the Do Not Pay list with the Match Source DMF.”

Translated from bureaucratic jargon, it told Ms. Tea that she was considered dead.

“We’re in debt up to the wazoo,” said Ms. Tee. “We can’t afford to put shows back on the streets because there’s no money.”

Like virtually all producers, the Band of Mothers – which hosted a music and comedy event called “The Pump and Dump Show” – was grounded by the pandemic last year and has had little income since then. At the beginning of 2020, the company had 13 employees – most of them mothers of young children – but has since reduced its employees to two.

After Ms. Tee received the email, she began a Kafkaesque attempt to prove that the government’s information was false. She called Social Security, which she didn’t think was helpful. A operator in her local office was friendly but said, “I think you are being scammed with spam or scams,” Ms. Tee recalled.

The Small Business Administration has said little publicly about the problem. However, in correspondence between applicants, the Agency acknowledged that the problem appears to be due to a conflict between employee identification numbers, which apply to businesses and nonprofit groups, and Social Security numbers, which apply to individuals. If a company has the same employee identification number as a dead person, the authority has marked this application as incorrect.

Ms. Wilkerson, the SBA spokeswoman, said the agency was working to clarify the issue and move applications forward. Mr Kelley said Thursday that according to participants in the call next week, applicants should finally see the results of those efforts – and a wave of approvals.



Robert Dunfee