In a hopeful sign for performing arts organizations, music venues and theater producers seeking help to resume live, in-person programming, the federal government’s shuttered-venue subsidy program had $6 billion remaining after its first week accepting applications.
As of May 3rd at noon, applicants had submitted requests for $9.95 billion, according to a Small Business Administration report that the Broadway League distributed to its members. The SBA was allocated $16.2 billion overall for its Shuttered Venue Operators Grants.
“The surprising headline is that the program has not run out of funds and instead has $6.3 billion in SVOG funds remaining,” Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin wrote in an email to members last week that was shared with Broadway Journal.
An SBA spokeswoman declined to comment on the statistics and said she may have updated numbers on Monday. Likewise, a League spokeswoman declined to comment.
The grants, up to $10 million each, are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis and can be used for payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage and debt payments, advertising, insurance payments and for independent contractors who earn up to $100,000 annually. Proposed awards are calculated automatically based on the financial information applicants enter, although the SBA isn’t bound to pay what’s proposed.
The SBA gives first priority to entities that suffered a 90 percent or greater revenue loss from April to December, 2020. That beleaguered group accounted for half of the $9.95 billion requested. Applicants who work in theater told Broadway Journal that they plan to use the emergency funds to reopen productions and organizations or simply to keep their companies from collapsing.
As of May 3rd, the SBA had received 10,300 applications — submitted by 4,227 venue operators and promoters, 2,389 performing arts organizations, 1,362 movie theater operators, 1,135 talent representatives, 665 theater producers and 522 museums. After technical snafus delayed the original opening date of April 8, the shuttered-venue grant portal began accepting applications on April 26. Applicants said assembling and preparing supporting documents took hours but the submission process was ultimately straightforward.
They sought $10.9 billion in all, but the SBA reduced the total to $9.95 billion, citing a provision that entities receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans on or after Dec. 27, 2020 will have their loans deducted from their shuttered-venue grant proposals.
The grant program became law in December 2020 and was amended in March 2021. The SBA has said applicants considered first priority will receive funds at the end of the month, assuming they react quickly to notice of their awards.