The SBA opened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal on April 8, 2021, for operators of live venues, including:
- live performing arts organizations,
- movie theatres
- live venue promoters, theatrical producers, and talent representatives
Entities that had to shutter their doors a year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible.
“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 SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.
“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,” Casillas Guzman added.
The financial losses are staggering. According to a report by Fox Business marking the anniversary of the COVID shutdown, Broadway grossed upward of $1.8 billion during its last complete season (2018-2019). Based on that number, Broadway has lost an average of $35 million in gross revenue per week, according to The Broadway League. An estimated 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their income, lost their livelihood because of the pandemic.
Now, more than $16.2 billion is available through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants to help support performing arts and cultural organizations.
“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,” Casillas Guzman said.
MORE FOR YOU
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. The first 14 days of SVOG awards, 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.
The SBA has hosted a national informational webinar (archived recording) to highlight the application process for potential eligible entities. The agency has also provided recurrent program updates and information via frequently asked questions, video tutorials, an application checklist, and eligibility requirements through SBA’s SVOG website.
In developing the funding program, the SBA worked closely with partners, including agencies dedicated to the affected industries, such as the National Endowment for the Arts and Institute of Museum and Library Services. The agency also consulted industry partners, such as the National Independent Venue Association, National Association of Theatre Owners, National Broadway League, American Alliance of Museums and the Associations of Art Museum Directors, and other organizations.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed based on time of receipt. The SBA will determine, based on revenue information, the priority phase the application will be processed. Awards will continue to be made until all funds are obligated.
Necessary background documents include a written certification of need (assuring that the organization was in operation on Feb. 29, 2020), corporate documents, including articles of incorporation, a government-issued photo ID of the primary officer of the organization, an employee list with job titles and employee stats, and tax-exempt documents (for non-profit organizations).
Required financial documents include a 2019 tax return, 2020 tax return (when filed), 4506-T (transcript of tax return), quarterly income statements for 2019 and 2020, payroll statements, and copy of the most recently audited financial statement.
Although the organizations themselves many times are non-profit, the arts generate billions of dollars of revenue all across the United States. Just as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has thrown a lifeline to small businesses that are struggling, the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant will help keep arts organizations alive.