How to Apply for a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

Relief for live venues is available from the government

The $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, which was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020.

The SVOG was further amended by the American Rescue Plan Act and currently offers grants equal to 45% of an eligible venue’s gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award set at $10 million. Eligible applicants with up to 50 full-time employees can draw from a reserve pot of $2 billion.

Key Takeaways

  • The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, established as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 to provide economic relief to shuttered live venues, was scheduled to begin accepting grant applications on April 8, 2021.
  • The program will distribute more than $16 billion in grants of up to $10 million each, equal to 45% of an eligible venue’s gross earned revenue.
  • Eligible applicants with up to 50 employees can draw from a special $2 billion reserve fund.
  • Applications will be sorted into three priority periods for venues that suffered COVID-related economic loss ranging from 25% to 90% or greater.
  • Grants are expected to be disbursed beginning before the end of April 2021.
  • Grant funds may be used for specific listed expenses only.

Eligibility for an SVOG

To be considered for an SVOG begins with the type of venue you represent. The Economic Aid Act specifies that the entity must be one of the following:

  • Live venue operator or promoter
  • Theatrical producer
  • Live performing arts organization operator
  • Museum operator
  • Motion picture theater operator
  • Talent representative
  • Any subsidiary of an eligible entity that also meets eligibility requirements
  • Any of the above operated by a state or local government solely as a venue

Feb. 29, 2020

To be eligible for an SVOG, your venue must have been in operation as of this date.

Ineligible Entities

Even if your venue would be otherwise eligible, it would not be considered for a grant if any of the following apply:

  • 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 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 10 states; AND had more than 500 employees as of Feb. 29, 2020.
  • Five other firms with which it is affiliated have already received SVOG awards.
  • It is a museum and other museums with which it is affiliated have already received $10 million in SVOG funding.

Due to technical difficulties, the SBA has temporarily suspended the SVOG application portal, which was scheduled to open April 8, 2021. The SBA says it will share advance notice of the time and date before the reopening so all applicants can be prepared. You may continue to register for a new account.

Preparing to Apply

To avoid delays and an incomplete application, make sure you gather all necessary documents, register for a DUNS number, and register in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov). Instructions can be found in the SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applicant User Guide.

Go to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Application portal and register. Follow the onscreen prompts to register, enter your email address (which cannot be changed), and create a password as part of the registration process.

Once you are registered, you will be directed to the Main Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Page. From there, it’s a matter of following instructions and prompts. You can preview the entire application process on the online Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applicant User Guide before you begin.

You must determine your gross revenue loss from 2019 to 2020 to see if you qualify for one of the priority periods discussed below. Other required information—including floor plans, contract copies, and additional documentation—is listed in the SVOG Preliminary Application Checklist.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application requires multifactor authentication. You will need to download and install the Google Authenticator app on your smartphone.

Submitting Your Application

At the end of each major section, you have the option to click “next” to go to the next section, to click “previous” to return to the beginning of the section you just completed, to click “cancel” to erase and reset the section you just completed, or to click “Save for later” to save everything and return to the home screen.

At the very end, you have the “submit” option for your application. Once you do that, you will begin to receive notices by email regarding status and changes.

You will need documentation that demonstrates your number of employees and monthly revenues. You will use this to calculate the average number of qualifying employees you had over the previous 12 months.

Priority Periods for Grant Awards

The SVOG program, which was scheduled to begin accepting applications on April 8, 2021, has established priority periods for the disbursement of grant awards, based on the percent of economic loss suffered by the entity. Those priority periods are listed in the table below.

Meanwhile, the SBA is accepting applications on a first-in, first-out basis within your respective priority period. Award disbursement is expected to begin in late April 2021, with the first 14 days dedicated to entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between April and December of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second 14 days (days 15–28) will include entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April and December of 2020.

Following those periods, SVOG awards will include entities that suffered a 25% or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020. Then, if funds remain available, recipients of first-, second-, and third-round awards that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss for the most recent calendar quarter may apply for a supplemental grant.

If funds become unavailable, then the SBA intends to distribute zero-dollar “placeholder” supplemental awards that could be redeemed within six months should Congress appropriate additional funds.

Day  Priority Period Entity Type 
1 First Entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between April 2020 and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
15 Second Entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April 2020 and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
29 Third  Entities that suffered a 25% or greater earned revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020.
Supplemental After all priority periods have passed, recipients of first, second, and third priority round awards that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss for the most recent calendar quarter (as of April 1, 2021, or later).

Source: Small Business Administration

Priority awardees do not need to satisfy the small employer set-aside rule (no more than 50 employees). Awardees that do will receive funds first from the $2 billion set aside.

How SVOG Funds May Be Used

SVOG funds may only be used for the specific purposes listed below. Grantees are required to maintain documentation demonstrating that they have complied with these uses. Further, as a grantee, you must retain employment records for four years following receipt of funds and must retain all other records for three years.

  • Payroll
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Mortgage payments (not including prepayment of principal)
  • Debt payments (not including prepayment of principal on any indebtedness incurred in the ordinary course of business prior to Feb. 15, 2020)
  • Worker protection expenses
  • Payments to independent contractors ($100,000 or less per contractor per year)
  • Other ordinary and necessary business expenses, including maintenance
  • Administrative costs (including fees and licensing)
  • State and local taxes and fees
  • Operating leases in effect as of Feb. 15, 2020
  • Insurance payments
  • Advertising, production transportation, and capital expenditures related to producing a theatrical or live performing arts production. (This may not be the primary use of funds.)

How SVOG Funds May Not Be Used

If you are a grantee, then you may not use SVOG funds for any of the following, including any other use prohibited by the SBA:

  • Purchase of real estate
  • Payments on loans originated after Feb. 15, 2020
  • Investments or loans
  • Contributions or other payments to—or on behalf of—political parties, political committees, or candidates for election
  • Any other use prohibited by the administrator

Article Sources

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  1. U.S. Congress. "H.R.133 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021." Accessed April 9, 2021.

  2. U.S. Congress. "H.R.1319 - American Rescue Plan Act of 2021." Accessed April 9, 2021.

  3. Small Business Administration. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grants Frequently Asked Questions April 8, 2021." Page 1. Accessed April 9, 2021.

  4. Small Business Administration. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grants Frequently Asked Questions April 8, 2021." Page 2. Accessed April 9, 2021.

  5. Small Business Association. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applicant User Guide." Accessed April 9, 2021.

  6. Small Business Administration. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Preliminary Application Checklist March 11, 2021." Accessed April 9, 2021.

  7. Small Business Administration. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grant - How to Apply." Accessed April 9, 2021.

  8. Small Business Administration. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grants Frequently Asked Questions April 8, 2021." Page 16. Accessed April 9, 2021.

  9. Small Business Administration. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grants Frequently Asked Questions April 8, 2021." Page 31. Accessed April 9, 2021.

  10. Small Business Administration. "Shuttered Venue Operators Grant - Allowable Use of Funds." Accessed April 9, 2021.