SBA opens Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG)

Here’s everything you need to know about the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grants

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$16.2 billion earmarked for venues, theaters, and more

Editor’s Note (April 26, 2021): The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal was forced to shut down because demand was so great. The SBA re-opened the portal on Saturday, April 24.

Finally, there is some good news for small business owners of live venues. The U.S. Small Business Administration has officially opened its Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal. The grants are for small business owners and operators of live venues, performing arts organizations, museums, movie theaters, and more.

These venues were some of the first that had to cease operations when the pandemic hit last year.

“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.”

The grant is one of many government programs to help provide relief for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The other programs include:

Workest Blog Graphic SBA SVOG_042721

SVOG includes over $16 million in grants meant for small businesses, non-profits, and venues. Designed as a disaster assistance package, the SVOG is not a loan and can be used for a variety of critical functions. For example, you can use your SVOG funds for:

  • Payroll cost
  • Rent, utility, or mortgage payments
  • Worker protection expenses
  • Payments to independent contractors, so long as the cost is less than $100,000 per contractor
  • Necessary business expenses, such as maintenance costs
  • Administrative costs
  • Taxes and fees
  • Operating leases
  • Insurance payments
  • Scheduled debt payments
  • Advertising, production transportation, and capital expenditures related to producing a theatrical or live performing arts production

That said, unlike the EIDL or PPP Loans, SVOG eligibility is fairly limited.

Who is eligible for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG)?

According to the SBA, the following groups are eligible to apply for a SVOG:

  • 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
  • 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 Paycheck Protection Program loan on or after December 27, 2020, will have the SVOG reduced by the PPP loan amount

How much can I get through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG)?

  • 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.

SVOG loan terms

While there are many things you can do with your grant, there are some things that are off limits. You cannot use your grant money 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

Furthermore, you’ll need to maintain documentation to show that you were compliant in using your funds. You will also be required to retain employment records for 4 years after you receive your grant, and all other records must be kept for 3 years.

How the SVOG applications work

The SBA is accepting SVOG applications on a first-come, first-served basis.

  1. The first 14 days of SVOG awards, which are 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.
  2. The second 14 days (days 15-28) will include entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020.
  3. 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.

How do I submit an SVOG application?

The SBA has hosted a national informational webinar (watch the recording) to highlight the application process for potential eligible entities. You can also access updates and information via frequently asked questions, additional video tutorials, an application checklist and eligibility requirements through SBA’s dedicated SVOG website.

Can you use more than one SBA fund?

If you have an RRF pending application or have received funding:

  • You cannot receive a SVOG award
  • Your PPP loan will affect your RRF amount calculation, and you cannot apply for more than one RRF
  • You can apply for EIDL
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