Shuttered Venue Operator Grant awards top $7.5 billion, SBA says

By Jeff Drew

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded more than $7.5 billion in Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOGs) to about 10,000 live entertainment venues, small businesses, and not-for-profits, the agency announced Tuesday.

The $16.25 billion SVOG program provides eligible applicants with grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, up to a maximum of $10 million. Nearly 15,500 SVOG applications, seeking a total of $12 billion in funding, have been submitted by live venue operators, promoters, arts organizations, talent representatives, motion picture theater operators, museums, and theatrical producers, according to SBA reporting.

The SBA has rendered a decision on 95% of the SVOG applications it has received, with 732 applications under review and 105 yet to begin review as of July 26. More than 2,700 applications have been declined.

Nearly two-thirds of the awards have gone to venues with fewer than 10 employees, the SBA said.

Money still available

With requests for only $12 billion of the $16.25 billion in SVOG funding submitted, the SBA is providing opportunities for applicants to appeal grant denials, request award reconsiderations, and seek supplemental funding. The period to appeal rejected applications will run from Aug. 2–16, while entities that received less funding than they anticipated can apply for reconsideration of their grant amount Aug. 4–18.

If funds remain after those two-week periods, the SBA will open the program to supplemental SVOGs for 50% of the original award amount for grantees, with the total SVOG award (initial and supplemental) remaining capped at $10 million.

The SBA provided initial details about the award reconsideration and appeal programs in updates published July 22 in the SVOG Frequently Asked Questions file.

SVOG plot twists

The SVOG has seen plenty of drama since it was created by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, P.L. 116-260. That bill, which was signed into law in late December, appropriated $15 billion to the SVOG, which received another $1.25 billion after the American Rescue Plan Act, P.L. 117-2, became law March 11.

Working with vendors to develop a new platform to facilitate the SVOG application and grant process, the SBA didn’t open the application portal until April 8. The agency then had to shut the portal down for repairs after only a few hours due to venue owners and other eligible businesses being unable to upload supporting documents for their applications.

After nearly three weeks of repairs and testing, the SVOG application portal reopened on April 26 and the first applications were successfully submitted to the program.

Grants were slow to be made, due in part to the way the program was structured. While grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, Congress structured the SVOG to prioritize the hardest-hit venues.

The first 14 days of SVOG awards were reserved for those entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 3,200 grants were made to applicants in this group through July 26.

The second 14 days of awards (days 15–28) expanded eligibility to entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020. The SBA made 2,125 grants to applicants in that group.

Following those periods, SVOG award eligibility was expanded to entities that suffered a 25% or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020. More than 4,500 awards went to this group.

The SBA reported June 4 that it had awarded 50 SVOGs totaling $54.2 million. As of June 10, the SBA had awarded just over 100 SVOGs.

In its news release Tuesday, the SBA said the pace of SVOG grant-making increased after the agency made adjustments to its process based on successful aspects of the Paycheck Protection Program and Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The SBA did not detail what changes were made to the SVOG process.

AICPA experts discuss the latest on the SVOG and other small business aid programs during a virtual town hall held every other week. The webcasts, which provide CPE credit, are free to AICPA members and $39 for nonmembers. Go to the AICPA Town Hall Series webpage for more information and to register. Recordings of Town Hall events are available to view for free on AICPA TV.

The AICPA’s Paycheck Protection Program Resources page houses resources and tools produced by the AICPA to help address the economic impact of the coronavirus.

AICPA members can learn more about the SVOG on the webpage “Understanding the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program.”

For more news and reporting on the coronavirus and how CPAs can handle challenges related to the outbreak, visit the JofA’s coronavirus resources page or subscribe to our email alerts for breaking PPP news.

Jeff Drew (Jeff.Drew@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

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