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Grant program opens for shuttered theaters, museums, concert halls

Musicians joined Sen. Chuck Schumer at Mulcahy's Pub

Musicians joined Sen. Chuck Schumer at Mulcahy's Pub in Wantagh in September to promote help for entertainment venues. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Grants of up to $10 million will be available, starting Thursday, to independent movie theaters, concert halls, museums and live performance spaces that were closed to slow the coronavirus’ spread.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will begin accepting online applications for its Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, or SVOG. The program was established by December’s federal stimulus package and expanded by last month’s package.

More than $16 billion in grants is available; $2 billion has been set aside for venues with 50 or fewer employees. The grants do not have to be repaid.

"Help is here for venue operators hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic," said the new SBA administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman. The agency "understands how hard [venues] have been impacted, as they were among the first to shutter."

The SVOG program is aimed at helping venues with 500 or fewer employees that aren’t owned by a public company or have locations in 11 or more states. Eligible venues also cannot operate in a foreign country.

On Long Island, such venues include the Argyle Theatre in Babylon village, Malverne Cinema & Art Center, The Paramount concert hall in Huntington village and Mulcahy’s Pub & Concert Hall in Wantagh.

These and others will be greatly helped by the SVOG and that in turn will benefit nearby "bars, restaurants, hotels, retail shops, parking facilities and other businesses that depend on our venues to attract audiences," said Laura Mogul, executive director of the Landmark on Main Street performing arts center in Port Washington.

More information about the SVOG may be found at

Q: What's the application deadline?

A: SBA will process applications until the $16.2 billion in SVOG funding has been exhausted.

Q: Am I eligible for the SVOG if I opened my venue last summer?

A: No. Applicants must have been operating as of Feb. 29, 2020.

Q: Is a venue eligible for the SVOG if it has received federal grants in the past?

A: A venue is ineligible if more than 10% of its 2019 gross revenue came from the federal government. The rule affects venues owned by private universities but not public universities.

Q: Can I apply for the SVOG if I’ve already received a PPP loan?

A: Yes, but applicants that received a PPP loan on or after Dec. 27, 2020 will have the SVOG reduced by the full loan amount. Venues cannot apply for a PPP loan after receiving a SVOG.

Q: What is the federal government’s System for Award Management, which I must register for in order to apply for the SVOG?

A: System for Award Management, or SAM, is a registry of entities seeking to do business with the federal government. To register, go to You will need to provide information from your registration with the business information service Dun & Bradstreet. If you don’t have a DUNS number, you may request one at SAM also requires your tax identification number and information about your bank account. There is no cost to register, but it may take several weeks to be approved. will be down for maintenance work on Saturday, April 10, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Q: How is the SVOG amount determined?

A: For businesses operating on or before Jan. 1, 2019, the grant amount will equal up to 45% of the applicant’s 2019 gross earned revenue or $10 million, whichever is less. For businesses that opened later, the grant amount will equal the average monthly gross revenue for each month in operation during 2019 multiplied by six, or $10 million, whichever is less.

Q: How long will it take to receive the grant?

A: SBA expects to begin awarding grants "sometime near the end" of this month, agency spokesman Matt Coleman said on Monday.

Q: Will the grant come in a lump sum or in installments?

A: Funds may be distributed in installments depending on the grant size and the recipient providing proof of how the funds were spent, including their 2020 federal income tax return.

Q: Do some applications get priority?

A: For two weeks, starting on Thursday, grant applications will first be processed for venues that lost 90% or more of revenue between April and December 2020 because of the pandemic. The following two weeks, priority will be given to venues that lost 70% or more of revenue in April-December 2020. Early next month, priority will be given to applications from venues that lost 25% or more of revenue in one quarter of last year compared with the same quarter in 2019.

Q: What can I use the SVOG money for?

A: Payroll costs, rent and mortgage payments, utility bills, taxes, insurance, refunds to customers holding tickets for cancelled events and other operating expenses. Funds cannot be used to buy property, make payments on loans taken after Feb. 15, 2020, make investments or contribute to political campaigns. Venues have between one year and 18 months to use the grant funds or return them to SBA.

Q: What recourse is available if SBA denies my SVOG application?

A: There is no appeal process.

Q: Is the grant subject to federal tax?

A: No

Q: Can an SVOG recipient also apply for the forthcoming restaurant grant program under the American Rescue Plan adopted earlier this year?

A: No

Q: How does SBA define the list of "current employees" that a venue must provide with the SVOG application?

A: Employees as of the date of the grant application or the most recent list before the venue was shut down due to the pandemic.

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