Save Our Stages Funds Now Available to Help Shuttered RI Entertainment Venues Recover
PROVIDENCE, RI – Over a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) to drop the curtain on its season of shows for 2020 and early 2021, long-awaited financial assistance for live entertainment venues impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns is finally beginning to arrive. Today, theater companies, comedy clubs, music venues, and independent movie theaters, along with other eligible entities, may begin to apply for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) -- a $16.25 billion federal grant program established by Congress late last year.
“Today is a good day for local theaters and performing arts venues. It’s a good day for artists, actors, musicians and the people who work backstage – lighting and set designers, concession and box office workers – a wide range of people who contribute to the theater-going experience.” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a cosponsor of the Save Our Stages Act. “This federal aid will help save jobs and ensure local venues that were forced to shutter can stay afloat. While this won’t be enough to make them whole, it should help them from shuttering permanently and survive until they can once again safely welcome large audiences and raise the curtain on live entertainment.”
Today, as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) begins processing SVOG applications, Senator Reed joined officials from the SBA, tourism sector, and the performing arts community outside of PPAC to encourage local businesses to apply for SVOG funds.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grants can help pay for expenses such as payroll costs, rent or mortgage payments, utility payments, and other business expenses. The SBA will administer the SVOG application process and grants may be awarded for up to 45 percent of a venue’s 2019 gross earned revenue or $10 million, whichever is less. Venues that began operation after January 1, 2019 will use a modified grant formula, with grants capped at $10 million.
At least $2 billion is set aside over the first 59 days of the program for small venue operators that have 50 or fewer employees.
Eligible SVOG recipients may be able to secure a second, supplemental grant at least 60 days after the program opens on April 8.
The SBA has already established a special web site: https://www.svograntportal.sba.gov/s/ which experienced some glitches on day one. The federal grants are being administered by the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
Eligible applications will be taken on a rolling basis and grants will be reserved over the first 28 days of the program for businesses that reported the greatest loss in 2020.
A member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed helped make $15 billion available for SVOG funds under the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, which was signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act on December 27. Senator Reed also supported an additional $1.25 billion for SVOG in the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law on March 11.
Senator Reed credited local advocates from the live arts community for helping to get the Save Our Stages Act across the legislative finish line, including: AS220; the Comedy Connection; the Columbus Theater; the Greenwich Odeum; Trinity Rep.; and the Newport Festivals Foundation.
“Theaters, live arts, concert halls, and entertainment spaces are economic force multipliers. They bring people, jobs, and opportunity together. They tell important stories and help us stay connected,” said Senator Reed. “When the pandemic hit and the government asked people to stay home and not gather together, independent theaters and live performance venues responsibly upheld their civic duty. They were some of the first to close and will be among the last to fully reopen. They took a huge financial hit. This federal aid should provide a major lift. And it could mean the difference between these institutions shuttering permanently and the curtain rising once more: signaling the show is about to start. And hopefully widespread, sustainable economic recovery will soon begin.”