Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program is part of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act) that was signed into law[i] on Dec. 27, 2020. The SVOG program is directed towards shuttered venues and operators who were in operation as of February 29, 2020 and who have not received PPP loans on or after December 27, 2020 (PPP loans received prior to this date do not disqualify applicants). The Economic Aid Act set aside $2 billion for the SVOG program for entities with no more than 50 full-time employees. Eligible applicants may qualify for grant awards equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue with a maximum award amount of $10 million.
How do I know if my organization is eligible?
Currently, the grant application is not available, but the Small Business Administration (SBA) has created an FAQ PDF[ii] on its website and given the following initial guidance[iii] on which types of businesses are eligible:
Live venue operators or promoters
Live performing arts organization operators
Relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria
Motion picture theater operators
Each business entity owned by an eligible entity that also meets the eligibility requirements
What disqualifies an applicant from SVOG eligibility?
It does not have a place of business located in the United States, does not operate primarily within the U.S., and does not make a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor.
It was not in operation as of Feb. 29, 2020.
It received a PPP loan on or after Dec. 27, 2020.
It is a publicly traded corporation, or is majority owned and controlled by a publicly traded corporation.
It presents live performances or sells products or services of a prurient sexual nature.
More than 10% of its 2019 gross revenue came from the federal government (not counting disaster assistance).
It owns or operates venues, theaters, museums or talent agencies in more than one country, owns or operates venues, theaters, museums or talent agencies in more than ten states, AND it had more than 500 employees as of Feb. 29, 2020.
What can I do now in anticipation of filling out the application?
Make sure you are registered for a Dun and Bradstreet Number (DUNS)
Register in the federal System for Award Management (SAM.gov)
Gather documents that demonstrate your number of employees and monthly revenues
Determine the gross earned revenue loss you experienced between 2019 and 2020
Gross earned revenue is defined as “the total of earned revenue from various sales of goods or services, such as admission tickets, merchandise, food and beverages, advertising sales and contracted presentation income” and does not include donations, contributions or grants revenue.
Review the initial eligibility criteria and FAQs to see if preparing for the application is worth your time.[iv]
For any entity that wants to apply, gathering as much information[v] as possible before the application is available is critical. Last year’s COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) had rough roll outs and the SBA closed the EIDL and PPP loan applications not long after they went live, so the sooner businesses can submit their applications, the better.
The SBA suggests continually checking their website for more information and for when the application will go live.
[i] See “Section 324 Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators” of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”), https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/BILLS-116HR133SA-RCP-116-68.pdf (Section 324 starts on page 2124). [ii] https://www.sba.gov/document/support-shuttered-venue-operators-grants-faq (updated as of 2-5-21). [iii] https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/shuttered-venue-operators-grant. [iv] Also, taking a look at the original language from the CAA on eligibility and definitions can give an idea of what kind of information may be required on the final application. [v] E.g., calculating the gross earned revenue, losses suffered between 2019 and 2020, determining the number of employees, etc.