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Businesses Can Still Apply for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program Awards

The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program has allocated $16 billion to businesses such as live venues, theaters, museums and other organizations that had to remained close through much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
family eat popcorn while attending a movie in a theater

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) is a $16 billion program that opened application process in early April to help eligible businesses access funds to offset the economic hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To be eligible a business had to be fully operational by Feb. 29, 2020, not be listed on a stock exchange or owned and controlled by an entity listed on the stock exchange and not employ more than 500 employees. Eligible entities include:

  • Live venue operators or promoters
  • Live performing arts facility operators
  • Movie theater operators
  • Theater producers
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums who meet the criteria
  • Talent agents

Interested applicants need to register for a new account through the portal before applying. Additionally, updated SVOG FAQs, the application checklist and Applicant User Guide are available on the SBA website (under Supplemental Documents) to facilitate the application process. 

These businesses have to be open or intend to resume operations, while talent agents currently need to be representing or managing artists. Facilities such as live venues need a defined performance space, require a paid ticket or cover charge to attend most shows and have staff to carry out at least two of the following roles (e.g., stage manager, security, promoter).

Movie theaters who wish to qualify must have at least one auditorium with fixed seating, a projection booth, require paid tickets to attend and market shows in printed or electronic media.

Of note: $2 billion of the $16 billion has been set aside for eligible applicants with up to 50 full-time employees.

How to Apply for a Shuttered Venue Operator Grant?

Applications for SVOG funds are available through the SBA portal, with priority based on the applicant’s revenue loss during the pandemic. For the first 14 days after the program opens, funds will be issued to those with 90 percent or more loss of revenue between April 2020 and December 2020, followed by 14 days focused on getting grants to those with 70% or more loss of revenue between April and December of 2020. After 28 days from the opening of the application process, the final group will be considered. This group must have suffered a 25% or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the same quarter in 2020.

Supplemental funding will be available after the first three priority periods are over. If you are a recipient of a grant from any round and have suffered a 70% or more revenue loss for the most-recent quarter (as of April 1, 2021 or later), you can apply for additional funding.

What Amount Can Be Requested for an SVOG?

Those seeking SVOG funds who were in operation on Jan. 1, 2019 could potentially qualify for an amount equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with a maximum of $10 million for any single grant. If you were in operation after Jan.1, 2019, then a grant amount will be based on the average monthly gross revenue for every full month you were operational in 2019 multiplied by six, or $10 million, whichever is less. If a business received a PPP loan after Dec. 27, 2020, the amount of the grant will be reduced by the amount of the PPP loan.

The funds can be used for certain expenses, including the following, as examples:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Payroll
  • Utility charges
  • Safety expenses for employees (personal protective equipment, etc.)
  • Maintenance costs
  • State and local taxes
  • Insurance payments

To avoid any issues that could result in fraud, funds from the SVOG program cannot be used to make investments, purchase real estate or contribute to political parties or candidates. Consult with your accounting professional and legal advisor for more restrictions.

Are There Recordkeeping Requirements for an SVOG?

Recipients of SVOG funds must maintain all documents that verify compliance with the program, including retaining employment records for four years following issue of grant, and all other records for three years.

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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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