By Brian New

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After months of silence, the music at The Kessler Theater in Dallas is back.

“There’s just a shared experience that we’ve been missing,” said owner Edwin Cabaniss.

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However, at 20% capacity and after nearly nine months of zero revenue, Cabaniss said his business has dug itself a financial hole.

“It’s a big hole but we believe in our business. It’s our passion,” Cabaniss said. “We have taken out personal savings to float ourselves because rents, and utilities, and some of the payroll when we have a limited amount of folks working, you still have to pay those.”

Starting April 8, live event businesses can apply for grants under the Shuttered Venue Relief program. The U.S. Small Business Administration is in charge of the $16 billion dollar federal COVID-19 relief program.

But for some, the help comes too late.

Industry groups say upwards to half of all live music venues will not survive the pandemic.

Dallas’ Lizard Lounge is one of those that did not survive. The iconic Dallas venue closed for good in May – months before Congress approved the relief funds in December.

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“The biggest issue throughout this process has just been the time it has taken for the law to pass and then the time for the program to be actually implemented.” said Blayne Tucker with the Texas chapter of the National Independent Venue Association.

Despite Congress approving the funding as part of the December pandemic relief package, as of the start of April none of the money has been awarded to struggling businesses yet.

There’s also a concern among some venue owners whether there will be enough money for everyone.

Eligibility for the grants has been expanded to also include live theater venues, museums, zoos and aquariums.

“This grant will allow us to get to a level playing field,” said Cabaniss. “But we are not counting this grant until the check clears the bank.”

Businesses who lost 90% of its revenue last year will be given priority.

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Applicants can apply on the SBA website.