Apply Now For The Shuttered Venues Operators Grant

GMPtemp Blog

SAVE OUR STAGES, the familiar battle cry of some 3,000 independent concert promoters and venue operators nationwide in pursuit of direct and immediate support from Congress to survive months of dark stages and empty seats, is now law.  Expanded to include more independent entertainment and attraction industries, the $15 billion grant fund is included in the recent federal COVID-19 stimulus package and offers a lifeline to some of the country’s most vulnerable arts-based small businesses.

To be administered by the US Small Business Administration, the program is now called the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant.  Program guidelines and application are expected imminently. 

The SBA is hosting an informational webinar on Thursday, January 14 at 3pm.  This Webinar will be hosted by:

  • Barb Carson, Deputy Associate Administrator, SBA Office of Disaster Assistance
  • Patricia Gibson, Senior Advisor, SBA Office of Disaster Assistance
  • Bill Briggs, Acting Associate Administrator, SBA Office of Capital Access

Advance registration is required here.

(Source:  National Independent Venue Association)

Who is eligible?

  • For-profit or nonprofit live performance venue operators or promoters
  • Performing arts organizations
  • Some museums
  • Talent representatives
  • Theatrical producers
  • Independent movie theaters

Eligibility requirements:

  • Entity must have been operating before February 29, 2020, and must show that gross earned revenue in any calendar quarter of 2020 that was 25% less than the same calendar quarter of 2019. On the date the grant is issued, eligible entities must be operating or intending to operate in the future.
  • Live performance venues, performing arts organizations and producers must:
    • Make at least 70% of their earned revenue from tickets or admission charges for live events, concessions or merchandise at those events, and/or nonprofit educational activities.
    • Events must be marketed through print or online media
    • Admission must be charged
    • Staff and performers must be fairly paid
    • Venues must have a clearly defined audience and performance areas (stage), employ certain positions (one or more persons doing at least two of the following: sound engineer, stage manager, security personnel, box office manager, booker, or promoter) and use certain equipment (mixing equipment, PA system, and lighting rig).
  • Museums must operate a museum as its principal business with indoor exhibition spaces subject to pandemic restrictions, and have at least one regularly programmed auditorium, lecture hall, etc. with fixed seating.
  • Talent Representatives must have 70% of operations be representing professional artists for live performances as described for live performance venues.
  • Movie theaters must have at least one screen with a projection booth, a seating area for an audience, market show-time listings by print or electronic means, and charge admission.
  • Entities that issue securities on a national securities exchange, or receive more than 10% of gross revenue from the federal government, or offer performances, services, or merchandise of an excessive sexual nature, are ineligible.

The “independent” test:

  • A businesses is ineligible if it has more than two of the following three characteristics as of Feb 29, 2020:
    • have venues in more than one country
    • operate in more than ten states
    • have had more than 500 FTE employees (30+hr./wk. = 1 FTE and 10-30 hrs./wk. =.5 FTE)
  • CARES Act funding should not be counted toward gross revenue. Accrual accounting should be used to determine revenue. SBA may use alternate methods to determine loss of seasonal employers.

There is a priority period for venues hardest hit by the pandemic. Here’s how that works:

  • The first 14 days are set aside for applications from entities whose total revenue for April 1 – Dec. 31, 2020 is 10% or less of their 2019 total revenue for the same period.
  • The second 14 days are set aside for applications from entities whose total revenue for April 1 – Dec. 31, 2020 is 30% or less of their 2019 total revenue for the same period.
  • No more than 80% of the total allocation may be awarded in the first 28 days.
  • $2 billion will be set aside for entities with fewer than 50 full-time employees.
  • After the first 28 days, other initial grants will be awarded through the Small Business Administration (SBA), No more than five affiliates of an individual or entity may receive funding.

How much are the Grant Amounts?

  • Initial grants: 45% of 2019 gross earned revenue. Entities that began operations after January 1, 2019 will receive 45% of the average monthly gross earned revenue multiplied by the number of months in operation.
  • Additional grants of 50% of the initial grant amount may be awarded if the entity or individual can show as of April 1, 2021 they made 30% or less in total revenue for the most recent calendar quarter than that same period in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The total of the initial and additional grants awarded may not exceed $10 million.

What are the Allowable Expenses?

  • Initial grants must be used for allowable expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021.
  • Additional grants must be used for allowable expenses incurred before June 30, 2022.
  • Allowable expenses include payroll, equipment, rent, insurance, worker protection expenditures, most mortgage payments, and utilities, as well as advertising, travel and capital expenditures for live performances.
  • Prohibited expenses include the purchase of real estate of any payment on a mortgage initiated after February 15, 2020. The funds may not be re-loaned or invested, or used to make political contributions.
  • Grant use will be reviewed by the SBA to determine fraud, noncompliance, or misspent funds and grant recipients will need to retain 4 years of employment record and 3 years of other records following receipt of the grant.


Josh Antenucci