The U.S. Small Business Administration has officially opened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theatres, as well as live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives to apply for critical economic relief, as those eligible entities are some of the first that had to shutter their doors a year ago in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The program has more than $16.2 billion available for venue operators.
“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," said Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA administrator .
"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," she added.
Rep. Michael San Nicolas said the opening of SBA's new grants program "is another pivotal step toward crushing this virus, getting people back in jobs and revitalizing Guam's economy."
"These grants will help our local shuttered venue operators put paychecks back in workers' pockets, avoid permanent closures, cover rent payments and more," San Nicolas said.
Guzman said SBA is seeking to expedite the distribution of the funding effectively and equitably and to ensure 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020.
Following those periods, SVOG awards will include entities that suffered a 25 percent or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020.
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.
In addition, SBA’s resource partners, including SCORE Mentors, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, are available to provide entities with individual guidance on their applications.