SBA reports first 50 Shuttered Venue Operator Grants

By Jeff Drew

Shuttered Venue Operator Grants totaling $54.2 million had been awarded to 50 recipients through midday Thursday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reported.

The awards are the first to be announced for the SVOG program, and they come more than five months after the program 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 program, which received another $1.25 billion after the American Rescue Plan Act, P.L. 117-2, became law March 11.

The grants reported by the SBA this week represent only a small fraction of the funding requests the SVOG program has received. Venue operators and other eligible entities have submitted 13,783 applications, requesting a total of $11.4 billion in funding, according the SBA’s public report on the SVOG program. That appears to leave close to $5 billion available even if all the submitted applications are approved.

The SVOG program provides eligible applicants with grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, up to a maximum of $10 million. Venue operators and other eligible entities can still apply for an SVOG via the program’s application portal. The SBA is accepting SVOG applications on a first-in, first-out basis and allocating applicants to respective priority periods as it receives applications.

All 50 of the awards made as of Thursday were to entities that suffered a 90%-or-greater revenue loss between April and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first 14 days of SVOG awards are reserved to such entities, and the SBA reported that in addition to the 50 awarded grants, 3,471 applications are actively under review.

The second 14 days of awards (days 15–28) will include entities that suffered a 70%-or-greater revenue loss between April and December 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.

Businesses with 50 or fewer employees received 44 grants totaling $33.01 million. The SVOG program has at least $2 billion reserved for eligible applicants with no more than 50 employees.

More than half the grants (27) went to live venue operators or promoters. Motion picture operators received 12 grants, while live performing arts organizations received nine grants. One grant apiece went to a talent representation business and a theatrical production business. Museums and venue promoters are also eligible.

A long drama

Venue operators and other SVOG-eligible entities were among the businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread restrictions on public gatherings. They then had to endure a multi-act drama as the SBA struggled to get the program up and running.

Working with vendors to develop a new platform to facilitate the SVOG application and grant process, the SBA opened the application portal April 8. The portal ran into problems almost immediately, with venue owners and other eligible businesses saying on social media that they could not upload supporting documents for their applications. The SBA then shut down the portal for repairs only a few hours after it reopened.

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.

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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