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SBA Anticipates Early April Opening for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

  • Latest FAQ for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant says the U.S. Small Business Administration hopes to open it in early April
  • Program has been slow to roll out since its establishment in December’s Economic Aid Act
  • A total of $16.25 billion is available to qualifying arts and cultural organizations

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Arts and cultural organizations are still awaiting the official requirements for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, but the U.S. Small Business Administration has quietly signaled that it expects the program to open to applications next month.

In the latest update to its frequently asked questions on the program, the SBA says it is “working expeditiously to open SVOG applications in early April.” SVOG was established with $15 billion in funding as part of the Economic Aid Act in December, and received an additional $1.25 billion under the American Rescue Plan.

SVOG provides grants to qualifying arts and cultural entities, including live venue operators and promoters, performing arts organizations, movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, and talent representatives that suffered major revenue losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants can qualify for grants equal to 45 percent of their 2019 gross earned revenue, up to $10 million. The program sets aside $2 billion for grants to entities with up to 50 full-time employees.

The slow pace of the SVOG rollout has frustrated some potential applicants, who found themselves uncertain whether they should pursue a grant or apply for a Paycheck Protection Loan – a step which originally disqualified them from receiving a grant. However, the American Rescue Plan eases this rule and specifies that PPP recipients can still receive a grant with the PPP loan amount deducted from the SVOG amount. Applicants also cannot qualify for a PPP loan after receiving a SVOG grant.

In addition to the updated FAQ, the SBA has updated its preliminary checklist of documentation that will be required to receive a grant. It cautions that the list is not all-inclusive and that additional documents may be necessary.

All applicants must provide certain background documents as well as financial documents and four standard SBA forms. Other documents are required of certain applicants, such as floor plans, marketing materials, ticket receipts, a copy of state and local COVID-19 restrictions, contractual and consultant agreements, a list of individuals represented and where they performed, or proof of necessary equipment such as a sound  mixing board or lighting rig.

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