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Metro Creative Connection

Higgins: Grant opportunity for WNY entertainment venues

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Mon, Mar 22nd 2021 01:45 pm

Application window will open April 8

Congressman Brian Higgins announced the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application window is scheduled to open April 8. The grant program will offer over $16 billion in federal funding to help performance venues struggling from the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our local venues that provide live music and theater have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the difficultly of safely adapting their business models to social distancing and public safety guidelines,” Higgins said. “These grants will get venues back on their feet and give them a fighting chance until we can safely enjoy live music again.”

Higgins, several senators and Congress members joined the live music industry in supporting the “Save Our Stages” campaign to advocate for a specific grant program for performance venues. Their efforts resulted in the SVOG program, a $15 billion grant program through the Small Business Administration included in the COVID-19 relief package passed in December (the Consolidated Appropriations Act). The American Rescue Plan added $1.25 billion more to the program, and allowed venues to apply for both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and SVOG.

The SVOG program is open to 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, and businesses owned by eligible entities. Businesses must have been in operation as of Feb. 29, 2020. Grant awards will be calculated based on 2019 revenue with a maximum award of $10 million. Grant funds may be used to cover “necessary and ordinary business expenses,” including but not limited to payroll, rent, utilities, worker protection expenditures and administrative costs.

Scheduled to open April 8, the first 14 days of grant awards are reserved for entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss from April through December 2020, with the following 14-day period opening up to those that lost 70% or more of their revenues. Afterward, grants will open up to entities with a 25% or greater earned revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020. Some entities may qualify for supplemental funds.

To ensure local, independent venues have access to these grants, $2 billion is reserved for entities with less than 50 employees during the first 59 days of the program.

More information on eligibility, applications and use of funds can be found at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/shuttered-venue-operators-grant. The SBA has released an FAQ to prepare to apply in advance. To sign up for a notification when the application window opens, visit https://www.svograntportal.sba.gov/s/.

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