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SBA Opens Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program

Help is here with $16.2 billion for venues, theatres, and more

The U.S. Small Business Administration officially opened the long-anticipated Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal Thursday (April 8, 2021) for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theaters to apply for critical relief. Many of these eligible entities, which also include live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives, were some of the first that had to shutter their doors a year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Concerts, plays, dance performances, movie premieres, museum exhibits – these are the lifeblood of culture and community, and often the anchor for travel, tourism and neighborhood food and retail stores. We know that for the stage and venue operators across the nation that help make this culture happen, the pandemic has been devastating. Too many have been forced to lower the final curtain on their businesses. Today, with more than $16.2 billion available through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants, help is here,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “The SBA is committed to moving as quickly as possible to deliver this vital funding effectively and equitably - ensuring relief goes to those venue operators whose revenues have been most impacted by the pandemic.” 

The SVOG program was appropriated more than $16.2 billion for grants via the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Of these funds, at least than $2 billion is reserved for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees. Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant.

The SBA is accepting SVOG applications on a first-in, first-out basis and allocating applicants to respective priority periods as it receives applications. The first 14 days of SVOG awards, which are expected to begin in late April, will be dedicated to entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second 14 days (days 15-28) will include entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020. Following those periods, SVOG awards will include entities that suffered a 25% or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020.

Prior to the opening tomorrow for SVOG applications, the SBA has hosted a national informational webinar (archived recording) to highlight the application process for potential eligible entities. 

As the SBA built the SVOG program from the ground up, it worked closely with its federal partners, including those dedicated to the affected industries such as the National Endowment for the Arts and Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Congressional authors in analyzing the legislation and Congress’ intent. The agency also consulted industry partners, such as the National Independent Venue Association, National Association of Theatre Owners, National Independent Talent Organization, Performing Arts Alliance, Broadway League, American Alliance of Museums and the Associations of Art Museum Directors, Children’s Museums, Science and Technology Centers, and Zoos & Aquariums. The SBA’s collaboration with these organizations has been vital to SBA’s understanding of and guidance for potential SVOG applicants and the agency looks forward to their continued partnership during the launch of the program.

 

Program details

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

Who can apply

Eligible entities include:

Live venue operators or promoters
Theatrical producers
Live performing arts organization operators
Relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria
Motion picture theater operators
Talent representatives
Each business entity owned by an eligible entity that also meets the eligibility requirements

Other requirements of note:

Must have been in operation as of February 29, 2020
Venue or promoter who received a PPP loan on or after December 27, 2020, will have the SVOG reduced by the PPP loan amount

Grant amount

Grant amounts will reflect either of the following instances:

For an eligible entity in operation on January 1, 2019, grants will be for an amount equal to 45% of their 2019 gross earned revenue OR $10 million, whichever is less.
For an eligible entity that began operation after January 1, 2019, grants will be for the average monthly gross earned revenue for each full month you were in operation during 2019 multiplied by six (6) OR $10 million, whichever is less.

Allowable use of funds

Funds may be used for specific expenses, which include:

Payroll costs
Rent payments
Utility payments
Scheduled mortgage payments (not including prepayment of principal)
Scheduled debt payments (not including prepayment of principal on any indebtedness incurred in the ordinary course of business prior to February 15, 2020)
Worker protection expenditures
Payments to independent contractors (not to exceed $100,000 in annual compensation per contractor)
Other ordinary and necessary business expenses, including maintenance costs
Administrative costs (including fees and licensing)
State and local taxes and fees
Operating leases in effect as of February 15, 2020
Insurance payments
Advertising, production transportation, and capital expenditures related to producing a theatrical or live performing arts production. (May not be primary use of funds)

Grantees may not use award funds to:

Buy real estate
Make payments on loans originated after February 15, 2020
Make investments or loans
Make contributions or other payments to, or on behalf of, political parties, political committees, or candidates for election
Any other use prohibited by the Administrator

 

Apply here: Shuttered Venue Operators Grant 

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.