SBA Awards $7.5 Billion in Shuttered Venue Operator Grants
This week, the U.S. Small Business Administration reached a new milestone of successfully awarding over $7.5 billion in Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOGs) to more than 10,000 hard-hit live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits, and venues. The SVOG program is designed to assist in getting the nation’s cultural institutions, which are critical to the economy and were among the first to shutter, back on track.
The SBA worked closely with the White House and other federal partners to process SVOG applications faster after the first two weeks of awards did not set the pace needed for this emergency funding. While more work is still needed to help businesses recover from the pandemic, the SBA took swift action to expeditiously process loans for SVOG and get funding into the hands of hard-hit operators.
“After making improvements to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, the SBA is now delivering money quickly, efficiently and fairly to highly-impacted small businesses and venue operators that are critical to America’s cultural fabric and local economies,” SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said. “When I began my tenure at the SBA, this first-of-its-kind SVOG program was not where I wanted it to be. I’m proud that, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented team, we have turned the ship around. America’s small businesses can rest assured that the SBA will continue to work around the clock to provide the relief that is needed to revitalize local economies and build back better from the pandemic and economic crisis.”
Under Administrator Guzman’s direction to make changes based on the successes of the Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, in approximately seven weeks, the SBA has gone from awarding just over 100 SVOGs on June 10, to more than 10,000, awarding over $7.5 billion in grants, helping venues reopen and stay open. More than two thirds of the awards have gone to venues with fewer than 10 employees, helping the smallest of small businesses – a priority of Administrator Guzman.
SVOG recipient Katherine Fritchie, owner of Garland Theater, in Spokane, Washington, shared that after she received the award she was able to successfully balance her budget. “It brings us back to where we were,” Fritchie said. “We’ve paid our debt off, and we get a cushion for our payroll.” Tyrus Joseforsky, owner of indie concert and festival promoter Flight Levelz Entertainment in Hobart, Indiana, added. “I plan to use these funds to invest in future shows and jumpstart my business, which in turn will put artists back on tour, bring revenue back to indoor and outdoor venues, put set-up and break-down crews back to work, bring customers back to the restaurants, retailers and food trucks surrounding venues…the list goes on and on. It’s a good thing for everyone.”
With the grant funds, venues like the Downtown Cabaret Theatre Company of Bridgeport, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, are returning to operation. “The sheer weight and excitement by the staff and friends when we got that notice of award was great cause for celebration,” Hugh Hallinan, executive producer of the Downtown Cabaret Theatre said. “The grant will enable us to have a more organized and human approach to open up and we can do it at an accelerated rate.”
The SVOG portal remains open and funding is still available for all eligible applicants. SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET to provide technical assistance with the SVOG application portal and can be reached at 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, 1-800-877-8339.
Further, SBA’s resource partners, including SCORE Mentors, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, are available to provide entities with individual guidance on their applications. Applicants can find a local resource partner via a zip code search at http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance. For weekly SVOG funding data reports, visit www.sba.gov/svog.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant background
The SVOG program has appropriated more than $16.2 billion for grants via the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Of these funds, at least $2 billion is reserved for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees. Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant.
On July 22, the SBA publicly shared information via the SVOG Frequently Asked Questions about the opportunity for SVOG awardees who received less than they anticipated to request an award amount reconsideration and how those with declined applications can appeal the decision. The notifications for the appeal and award amount reconsideration opportunities are expected to begin August 2 and August 4 respectively and will remain open for two weeks. Following then and per funds remaining available, on August 23, the SBA will open the program for supplemental SVOGs for 50% of the original award amount for grantees and cap at a total SVOG award (initial and supplemental) of $10 million.