The McCrary Sisters at The Station Inn
Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music Festival
Help Is On The Way: Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Application Opening on April 8
Good news, creators – the Small Business Administration (SBA) has officially announced that the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal will open on Thursday, April 8. This announcement is welcomed news for live music venues, theaters, museums, and other eligible cultural institutions, many of which have been left without any revenue since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relief program has tremendous promise for eligible applicants. According to the SBA’s issued guidance, the SVOG program will issue grants equal to 45% of an institution’s gross earned revenue. The individual grants are capped at $10 million per applicant, and the SBA has earmarked $2 billion for the smallest venues, which is defined as those entities with 50 or fewer full-time employees.
Once the application portal opens on April 8, the SBA will prioritize issuing relief to those applicants demonstrating the most significant revenue loss since the start of the pandemic. The first 14 days will be reserved for those institutions that endured a 90 percent or greater loss in revenue, the next 14 days for those that suffered a 70 percent or greater loss in revenue, and the final 14-day window will be for those entities with a 25 percent or greater loss in revenue. The SBA will then proceed to award grants to those institutions seeing a 70 percent or greater revenue loss for the most recent calendar quarter.
The American Rescue Plan also remedied an earlier barrier for relief facing many struggling venues. Previously, prospective applicants were instructed by the SBA that their organization would be barred from participating in the SVOG program if they opted to receive an additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The new Congress fixed this issue in the American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021. If a venue applies for a PPP loan first (but after December 27, 2020), eligible applicants are now qualified to participate in both the PPP and SVOG relief programs.
While the SVOG application portal does not open until April 8, potential applicants can start preparing their documents ahead of time, including instructions on how to best calculate gross earned revenue and to incorporate previous participation in past relief programs. Information on the required documentation for an SVOG application can be found on the SBA’s website.
The music ecosystem banded together to advocate for the creation of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. Understanding that there is strength in numbers, many independent venues quickly united at the start of the pandemic to form the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which called on Congress to “save our stages.” The Recording Academy became an early champion of the movement and lobbied Congress extensively for a legislative solution to ease the financial burden placed on venues by the pandemic.
In response to the public outcry in support of these community institutions, a bipartisan and bicameral group of policymakers introduced the Save Our Stages (SOS) Act (S.4258/H.R.7806) in July 2020. As part of an end-of-year spending package, Congressional leaders adopted the SOS Act by creating a $15 billion supplemental fund to directly assist live entertainment venues that demonstrate a significant reduction in revenue. The American Rescue Plan later added another $1.25 billion to the program in March.
Earlier this month, the Recording Academy partnered with four historic independent venues struggling to survive the pandemic’s enduring impact during the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, including Los Angeles’ Troubadour and Hotel Café, Nashville’s Station Inn, and New York City’s Apollo Theater. These institutions used the platform to describe the unsustainable financial outlook facing many independent venues resulting from a year of canceled events and to stress the importance of saving our stages.
The Recording Academy will continue to engage with the Small Business Administration in the days and weeks ahead to ensure that the SVOG program is accurately and equitably implemented.