More than three months after the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant was signed into law by then-President Donald Trump, applications are finally available for independent venues, movie theaters, promoters and more to try to receive as much as $10 million in federal aid.
The application portal went live Thursday (April 8) at 12 p.m. EST. Roughly $16 billion in grants will be rewarded on a rolling basis determined by need with venues that can prove they lost 90% or more of their revenue from April to December 2020 when compared to 2019. The Small Business Administration — which is administering the grants — stated that they expected to award 15,000 grants, but the number of applicants could be almost double that.
For those headed into the portal to apply, Billboard has compiled its coverage on how to be prepared.
Are You Eligible?
The SVOG is intended to help live performance venue operators and promoters, performing arts organizations, theatrical producers, talent representatives, motion-picture theatre operators and non-profit museums. Subsidiaries of these organizations can also be eligible. Businesses that fall under those categories must have been fully operational as of Feb. 29, 2020 and planning to continue operations in the future. The business will need to have lost more than 25% of its gross revenue year-over-year based on 2020 vs. 2019. If a venue was not operational for all of 2019, it can still be eligible based on its revenue from the time it was open.
How Will Awards Be Prioritized?
The applications open today at Noon ET and the SBA has said they expected the first phase of recipients to receive funds later in April. The first 14 days of funds being allocated will go to businesses for which total revenue from April 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 was 10% or less of their 2019 gross revenue for the same period. Essentially, those hit the hardest will get funded the quickest. Following the initial two weeks, entities for which total revenue between April 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 was 30% or less of their 2019 gross revenue for the same period will have priority to apply for the following two weeks (days 15-28 of applications being open).
After four weeks of application acceptance by the SBA, any eligible entity can apply for an initial grant. At least 20% of the federal allocation funds will be held for grants submitted after the first 28 days.
After these rounds of applications, businesses will also be able to apply for supplemental grants if funds still remain. A second grant equal to 50% of the initial grant amount may be awarded to entities still experiencing 70% earned revenue loss when comparing the first quarter of 2021 with the first quarter of 2019. Businesses are eligible for a maximum of $10 million split between initial and supplemental grants.
The SBA said it will service applications on a first-come, first-served basis. All entities, regardless of where they fall in priority, can begin submitting applications through the SBA’s portal today; the administration will then prioritize each entity.
What You Need To Apply?
The SBA states that those wanting to apply for the SVO grants are required to register in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM). The registration will collect information such as taxpayer identification numbers, certifications, banking information and more. In order to register for SAM, entities will need to go here to get a D-U-N-S number, which is a unique nine-digit identification number for each physical location of a business. D-U-N-S number assignments are free and required for contracts or grants with the Federal government. New D-U-N-S numbers can be created in a day and requires documentation such as Secretary of State articles of incorporation, taxpayer identification confirmation letter, lease agreement or others.
Following SAM registration, entities are required to submit a notarized letter to the Federal Service Desk within 60 days. Venues seeking SVO grant money should prep their SAM accounts ahead of time since registration can take up to 7-10 days for the government to validate.On March 5, the SBA also released a preliminary application checklist for venues looking to apply. Located on the SBA’s website, the checklist outlines that all applicants will need a written state of need and assurance, corporate documents, government issued photo ID, employee list with job titles and employment states such as full or part time, and a tax-exempt letter if the business is a non-profit.
Financial documents needed for the application will include 2019 and 2020 tax returns and quarterly income statements. The SBA will also require payroll statements covering Feb. 29, 2020, and a copy of the most recent audited financial statements from 2019.
Live venues and promoters will need to prepare floor plans and documents showing that the venue has audio mixing equipment, a lighting rig and a public address system. Venue operators will also need to show marketing material with event titles and ticket prices and box office/ticketing reports that provide date, ticket price and the number of tickets sold.
Talent representatives will need to provide examples of contracts with the talent they represent and venues they have worked with. A roster of individuals or acts represented between 2019 and 2020 will also be required.
Applicants must be prepared to state whether or not they’ve reopened for business, or when they plan to reopen, in order to receive funds. Businesses also need to provide details on how they plan to use the funds they’re asking for. Venues should seek to be as precise as possible, since the SBA designates what the funds can be used for and will only overlook about 10% of funds being shuffled to other eligible categories.
What Can the Grant Be Used For?
Funds received through the SVOG can be used for payroll costs, rent payments, utility payments, mortgage payments, debt payments, worker protection expenditures, payments to independent contractors not exceeding $100,000 per contractor, administrative costs, operating leases, insurance payments, costs associated with putting on shows and ordinary business costs, including maintenance.
The funds cannot be used to buy real estate, make payments to loans originated after Feb. 15, 2020, make investments or loans or make contributions to any political party or candidate.
Will The SBA Be Following Up on How Grant Money Was Used?
Yes. Grantees are required to retain employment records for four years following their receipt of a grant and retain all other records for three years. In the case of fraud, the SBA may seek the repayment of funds, initiate legal action to collect funds, add individuals or an organization to the “Do Not Pay List” or refer the grantee to the inspector general.
When Can You Apply For Supplemental Funding?
That is a whole other application, literally. Once second (70% or more of revenue lost in 2020) and third (25% or more of revenue lost in 2020) priority venues are awarded, entities can apply for supplemental funds from the SVOG. Supplemental funds will be determined by whatever amount of the $16 billion fund is left after the initial phases of awards are complete. If the $16 billion is exhausted in the first three categories, entities can still apply for supplemental funds to compensate for 2021 losses.
“The SBA intends to issue $0 placeholder supplemental awards that could subsequently be modified to add funds in the event Congress appropriates additional monies for the program,” a lawyer working on the SVOG said during the webinar. He added that supplemental grants will be a separate application from the initial phases. Applications for the SVOG will be accepted until the fund runs out.