SVOG Is Back: $16 Billion for Museums, Theaters, Zoos & More

The lights dim and the curtain rises…because the show must go on! While the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered movie theaters, performing arts venues, museums and zoos, now many are reopening across the country. This is great news! Our country’s return to normalcy depends on culture and entertainment venues that are open for crowds — or at least socially distanced audiences. So, to assist venues that saw dramatic financial losses during closed periods or from low ticket sales, the federal government has stepped up with its Shuttered Venues Operators Grant, or SVOG.

This SVOG program re-opened on April 23, 2021. And what’s great about this grant program is that there’s no set deadline for it. And, even better is that federal pandemic relief programs have funded it with over $16 billion dollars. While that seems like a huge pot of grant money, thousands and thousands of venues are eligible. So, it makes sense to apply soon.

So, How Much Can Venues Apply For?

For an eligible entity in operation on January 1, 2019, grants will be for an amount equal to 45% of their 2019 gross earned revenue OR $10 million, whichever is less.

And for an eligible entity that began operation after January 1, 2019, grants will be for the average monthly gross revenue for each full month you were in operation during 2019 multiplied by six (6) OR $10 million, whichever is less.

But, note that venues or promoters who received a PPP loan on or after December 27, 2020 will have the SVOG reduced by the PPP loan amount.

What Type of Venues Qualify?

This SVOG is open to eligible businesses in operation as of February 29, 2020. Eligible businesses are:

  • Live venue operators or promoters.
  • Theatrical producers.
  • Live performing arts organization operators.
  • Museum operators.
  • Motion picture theater operators (including owners).
  • Talent representatives.

How Can the SVOG Funds Be Used?

Funds may be used for specific expenses, which include:

  • Payroll costs.
  • Rent payments.
  • Utility payments.
  • Scheduled mortgage payments (not including prepayment of principal).
  • Scheduled debt payments (not including prepayment of principal) on any indebtedness incurred in the ordinary course of business prior to 02-15-20).
  • Worker protection expenditures.
  • Payments to independent contractors (not to exceed $100K in annual compensation per contractor).
  • Other ordinary and necessary business expenses, including maintenance costs.
  • Administrative costs (incl. fees and licensing).
  • State and local taxes and fees.
  • Operating leases in effect as of 02-15-20.
  • Insurance payments.
  • Advertising, production transportation, and capital expenditures related to producing a theatrical or live performing arts production. (May not be primary use of funds.)

Funds may NOT be used to:

  • Buy real estate.
  • Pay on loans that originated after February 15, 2020.
  • Make investments or loans.
  • Make contributions or other payments to, or on behalf of, political parties, political committees, or candidates for election.
  • Pay for any other use prohibited by the Administrator.

How to Apply for a SVOG

The Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance is handling the SVOG program. And, it processed applications first from those who have suffered the greatest economic loss.

So the fIrst priority is for entities that suffered a 90% or greater gross revenue loss between April 2020 through December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, the second priority is for entities that suffered a 70% or greater gross revenue loss between April 2020 through December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, the third priority is for entities that suffered a 25% or greater earned revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020.

And there’s also supplemental funding. Here, recipients of first, second, and third priority round awards who suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss for the most recent calendar quarter (as of April 1, 2021, or later).

In addition, priority awardees will not need to satisfy the small employer set-aside. During the first 59 days of opening SVOG, SBA will reserve no less than $2 billion of program funding for grants to entities that have no more than 50 employees.

GrantWatch Supports Arts and Culture

We know how critical it is to support arts and cultural venues, like movie theaters, live performances, zoos and other institutions. After all, they add so much to our lives. And tens of thousands of Americans find their livelihood through arts and cultural venues. So we are proud to list grants that support arts and culture at If you have any questions on the SOVG grant or any other grant listed at GrantWatch, visit our FAQs page for answers.

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