How to Apply for the New SBA Relief Grants for Theaters, Museums and Concert Venues

by Edgar R. Olivo

The Small Business Administration announced that the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program application is slated to open April 8, 2021, to help theatres, museums and concert venues. The SVOG program was established through the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act to provide more than $16 billion in economic relief to target industries. The SVOG program will be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

The SBA advises SVOG applicants will need to be registered in the federal government’s System for Awards Management (also known as to apply. The SBA has prepared a new website application to include frequently asked questions, video tutorials (including one on how to get registered in, a preliminary application checklist and eligibility requirements.

Here Are a Few Tips to Apply:

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. Two billion dollars is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

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; and
  • 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 circumstances:

  • 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.

How to Apply

SBA is building the grant program and expects to open applications in early April. Those who have suffered the greatest economic loss will be the first applications processed under the following schedule:

Note: On January 20, 2021, SBA updated the proposed plan for issuing grants during the first and second priority periods. To clarify, priority awardees will not need to satisfy the small employer set-aside. During the first 59 days of opening SVOG, SBA will reserve no less than $2 billion of program funding for grants to entities that have no more than 50 employees.

Funds Will Be Awarded Based on Priority.

The first 14 days of grant awards will go to first priority applicants, which are entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between April 2020 through December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next 14 days of grant awards will go to second priority applicants, which are entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April 2020 through December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And then, beginning 28 days after first and second priority awards are made, all entities that suffered a 25% or greater earned revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020 will be eligible to apply.

Awards will remain available after all priority periods have passed; recipients of first, second, and third priority round awards who suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss for the most recent calendar quarter (as of April 1, 2021, or later) will be eligible to apply.

Allowable Use of Funds

The SVOG 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; and
  • 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; or
  • Any other use prohibited by the administrator.

Grantee Recordkeeping

Grantees will be required to maintain documentation demonstrating their compliance with the eligibility and other requirements of the SVOG program. They must retain employment records for four years following their receipt of a grant and retain all other records for three years.

Sign up to attend the SBA’s upcoming webinar this Tuesday, March 30th on how to apply for the SVOG program.

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a non-profit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.

Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.

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