With one stroke of a pen the Small Business Administration is both closing and reopening the spigot for its $16.2 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program.
The SVOG program provides grants for venue operators, promoters, live-events producers and museums that were sidelined by the pandemic. The SBA said Wednesday it will no longer accept new applications after 11:59 PM PST on August 20, The agency announced that it will also open a Supplemental Award Program to eligible live entertainment small business, non-profits and venues who have already been granted aid. It would also reconsider appeals and award amounts “by invitation”.
The release stated that applicants have a rare chance to show their eligibility or reverse an earlier decision.
After major delays and a stutter-start opening on April 26, the SBA has doled out $8.4 billion in grants to more than 10,800 businesses and nonprofits, which includes local movie theaters and athletic venues. Even the Museum of Modern Art in New York City got a SVOG. Some businesses still have questions about the rules and regulations of this program. What is the definition of venue by SBA? It must have physical, permanent, and defined spaces for performance and audience.
The supplemental program is not open at a specific date. The SBA announced that the program will open later this month. Additional awards will be available at 50% of the initial award amount. The maximum limit is $10 million. This includes the initial grant award and any supplemental grants. SBA stated that additional information would be made available later.
Eligible applicants can apply for grants up to $10 million, or 45 percent of gross earned revenue. SBA considers “earned revenue” (or “gross earning revenue”) money earned from sales of services or goods, and not donations or sponsorship income.
The funds for eligible SVOG applicants with at least 50 employees were allocated at most $2 billion. These organizations were paid $4.8 billion by the agency as of August 9, 2009.
Clearly, thousands of businesses and non-profits have benefited from the grant program, and many likely still need help. The news that the SBA will close the original grant program, which had $8 billion left–rather that opening it to businesses that do not operate permanent seating and still make a living through events–may prove difficult to swallow for some.
Eric Todd is an example of such a business owner. BML-Blackbird is a New Jersey-based lighting, audio, and staging company that provides services nationwide for events. This was pre-Covid-19. He has not been able to work in the past few months since the spread of the virus. What’s more, it’s not likely to pick back up, given the news about breakthrough infections and the surge in hospitalizations spurred on by the Delta variant. Todd says that if it weren’t for PPP2, I wouldn’t be in business. He received two rounds Paycheck Protection Program loans. This forgivable loan program is designed to help small businesses maintain payroll staff.
Todd’s business provides event support but does not host the events. He is therefore not eligible for the SVOG. He would like the program to be open to other companies, not only those like his company but all event vendors as well. These events vendors employ the people who support the events at the venues that are now receiving grants.
Todd says, “The disgusting level of discrimination within the SVOG keeps my up at night.” Out of billions of dollars in SVOG, only pennies will go to under-served areas. These communities, according to larger events, comprise 30 to 70% of employees. This includes parking, security, ushers and ticket takers. They receive zero from SVOG.
However, it’s not clear if Washington has any desire to expand the scope of this program. However, lawmakers can do it with just a touch of a pen.
Publiated at Thu, 12 August 2021 02:31:58 +0000