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Update: Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program Opens for Applicants
UPDATE: This article, originally posted on April 8, 2021, has been updated with new information for music makers. The portal, which was set to open on April 8, experienced tremendous technical issues upon the initial launch and the Small Business Administration (SBA) was forced to stop operations until the problems were remedied. Once that occurred, the SBA re-launched the portal on Monday, April 26.
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The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal officially launches today, April 26. The program, which is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), provides essential financial relief for qualified live music venue operators, museums, and talent representatives, among others. More information on the program and how to apply can be found on the SBA’s website.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, these cultural institutions have largely remained shuttered over the past year and forced to survive without access to their traditional revenue streams. While merchandise sales and donations helped to generate some revenue, many live music venues were in dire financial situations that required immediate outside intervention.
The Recording Academy, its members, and its allies in the music ecosystem lobbied elected officials to create a robust supplemental fund to help the live event industry survive a year without shows and programming. Hearing direct appeals from constituents and the greater music ecosystem, Congress formed the SVOG program as part of a year-end spending package and appropriated $15 billion in assistance for these iconic independent venues and cultural institutions. The program was enhanced with an additional $1.25 billion as part of the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law last month.
On March 30, the SBA hosted an informational webinar to provide some additional clarity about the program’s application process. During the informative discussion, the SBA representatives estimated that 15,000 qualified institutions will receive awards and predicted that the expected average award amount will hover around $1 million.
The SBA has stated that the SVOG funds will be awarded on a rolling basis until the appropriated funds are completely exhausted. Under the direction of the agency, the funds will be awarded to those institutions demonstrating the largest loss in revenue due to the pandemic, providing a vital lifeline to those entities on the brink of financial collapse. The SBA is advising potential applicants to submit their required documentation as early as possible and will re-categorize applicants internally if they qualify for an exclusive window.
The SVOG program is one of many new innovative programs designed by policymakers to combat the unique financial burden created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created under the CARES Act, was also designed to provide emergency direct relief to offset the burden on businesses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. If a qualified institution applied and was approved for a PPP loan prior to December 27, 2020, it is eligible to apply for an SVOG, and the previous PPP loan will have no impact on the final SVOG amount. If the institution received PPP funds on or after December 27, 2020, the full amount of the loan received will be deducted from an entity’s SVOG disbursement without regard to whether a portion of the PPP loan was forgiven or not. Entities will be ineligible for a PPP loan after they receive an SVOG.
The Recording Academy and its members thank the SBA for officially launching the SVOG program, and pledge to serve as a partner to ensure an equitable implementation of this necessary financial relief program.
More information on the SVOG program and how to apply can be found here.