The U.S. Small Business Administration reached a new milestone of successfully awarding over $7.5 billion in Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOGs) to more than 10,000 hard-hit live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits, and venues. The SVOG program is designed to assist in getting the nation’s cultural institutions, which are critical to the economy and were among the first to shutter, back on track.
The SBA worked closely with the White House and other federal partners to process SVOG applications faster after the first two weeks of awards did not set the pace needed for this emergency funding. While more work is still needed to help businesses recover from the pandemic, the SBA took swift action to expeditiously process loans for SVOG and get funding into the hands of hard-hit operators.
“After making improvements to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, the SBA is now delivering money quickly, efficiently and fairly to highly-impacted small businesses and venue operators that are critical to America’s cultural fabric and local economies,” SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said. “When I began my tenure at the SBA, this first-of-its-kind SVOG program was not where I wanted it to be. I’m proud that, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented team, we have turned the ship around. America’s small businesses can rest assured that the SBA will continue to work around the clock to provide the relief that is needed to revitalize local economies and build back better from the pandemic and economic crisis.”
“I am proud to have joined Senators Cardin, Klobuchar, and others to pass the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants into law in December and add even further funding for the program in the American Rescue Plan, and am so happy that the live entertainment and other cultural arts venues in New York and across the country are receiving this desperately needed financial aid,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “Over the last year, I have visited music halls, theaters and other cultural institutions throughout New York that had been forced to shutter their doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. From comedy clubs to concert halls, these cultural institutions are the true heart and soul of New York, and I cannot wait to watch, listen and laugh as they bounce back bigger and better than ever, and I’ll keep working with the SBA to get all of the program’s assistance out the door as soon as possible to help all eligible venues recover.”
“I am grateful that live venues and cultural institutions in Maryland and nationwide are beginning to receive the aid they need to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and recover from the worst economic crisis in nearly 100 years,” Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship said. “I have already heard from many venue operators in Maryland who intend to use their SVOG funds to catch up on bills, quickly rehire staff, and prepare for reopening. Last year life changed for all of us, practically overnight, so I am looking forward to the return of winding box office lines and lit-up marquees in the months ahead as our communities continue to recover from COVID-19.”
Under Administrator Guzman’s direction to make changes based on the successes of the Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, in approximately seven weeks, the SBA has gone from awarding just over 100 SVOGs on June 10, to more than 10,000 to date, awarding over $7.5 billion in grants, helping venues reopen and stay open. More than two thirds of the awards have gone to venues with fewer than 10 employees, helping the smallest of small businesses – a priority of Administrator Guzman.
“Thanks to the dedicated and continuing work by the SBA’s SVOG team, and especially, the relentless efforts of our own Senator Chuck Schumer, Broadway’s plans to reopen are steadily moving forward. The SVOG grants are imperative to Broadway’s recovery. We credit, with gratitude, the grants that have been received by shows and also those that are forthcoming and in process. Broadway stages remain dark, however, our amazing artists, talented workers, and excited audiences are preparing to come back in just a few short weeks, and we so look forward to the full return of Broadway. The SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operator Grant funding is crucial to our return, and we applaud the efforts by the SBA to focus on delivering crucial funding to businesses most in need, “ said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League.
“The shuttered venue grants were meant for places like the Smith Center that employ local musicians and entertain local people,” said Myron Martin, president and CEO for the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. “The SBA is helping us to get back to where we want to be. We’re thankful for that.”
Another SVOG recipient, Katherine Fritchie, owner of Garland Theater, in Spokane, Washington, shared that after she received the award she was able to successfully balance her budget. “It brings us back to where we were,” Fritchie said. “We’ve paid our debt off, and we get a cushion for our payroll.” Tyrus Joseforsky, owner of indie concert and festival promoter Flight Levelz Entertainment in Hobart, Indiana, added. “I plan to use these funds to invest in future shows and jumpstart my business, which in turn will put artists back on tour, bring revenue back to indoor and outdoor venues, put set-up and break-down crews back to work, bring customers back to the restaurants, retailers and food trucks surrounding venues…the list goes on and on. It’s a good thing for everyone.”
With the grant funds, venues like the Downtown Cabaret Theatre Company of Bridgeport, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, are returning to operation. “The sheer weight and excitement by the staff and friends when we got that notice of award was great cause for celebration,” Hugh Hallinan, executive producer of the Downtown Cabaret Theatre said. “The grant will enable us to have a more organized and human approach to open up and we can do it at an accelerated rate.”
The SVOG portal remains open and funding is still available for all eligible applicants. SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET to provide technical assistance with the SVOG application portal and can be reached at 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, 1-800-877-8339.
Further, 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. Applicants can find a local resource partner via a zip code search at http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance. For weekly SVOG funding data reports, visit www.sba.gov/svog.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant background
The SVOG program has 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 $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.
On July 22, the SBA publicly shared information via the SVOG Frequently Asked Questions about the opportunity for SVOG awardees who received less than they anticipated to request an award amount reconsideration and how those with declined applications can appeal the decision. The notifications for the appeal and award amount reconsideration opportunities are expected to begin August 2 and August 4 respectively and will remain open for two weeks. Following then and per funds remaining available, on August 23, the SBA will open the program for supplemental SVOGs for 50% of the original award amount for grantees and cap at a total SVOG award (initial and supplemental) of $10 million.