Small businesses eager to apply for the Small Business Administration's grant program for shuttered arts and culture venues — one that allows for a grant of up to $10 million — will be able to apply starting April 8, per new guidance announced Friday.
In the meantime, businesses can sign up to receive updates on the grant program on a new website that the SBA created in preparation for its launch. The SBA will also host a national informational webinar March 30 on the application process for potentially eligible businesses, which can register here for that event.
“Help is here for venue operators hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The SBA has worked diligently to build the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program from the ground up to assist and address the diverse eligibility requirements of each type of applicant,” newly minted SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in a statement about the April 8 start date.
The SBA said potential applicants must be registered in the federal government’s system for award management (SAM.gov) in order to receive a grant.
The $16.25 billion grant program was initially authorized in December by Congress, through its stimulus legislation then, with $15 billion in total funding. But small businesses could not then apply for both a Paycheck Protection Program loan and a venue grant. Congress has since fixed that issue in the recently passed Covid-19 relief legislation titled the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, adding another $1.25 billion in funding for more grants to venues.
Eligible businesses include live venue operators, promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, museums, zoos, aquariums and theaters themselves.
But even with the April 8 start date, eligible businesses will have to wait in line. The SBA has said the first 14 days of this program will only be open to venues that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between this past April and December, due to Covid-19. The subsequent 14 days will be reserved for venues that suffered a 70% revenue loss or more in that time. Only after the first 28 days can venues that suffered smaller losses be considered for the grants.
Grants are sized by the average monthly gross revenue for each full month a company was operational, then multiplied by six and capped at $10 million. Funds can be used for a wide variety of expenses, including payroll, rent, utility payments, scheduled mortgage and debt payments, personal protective equipment, independent contractor payments, administrative costs, state and local taxes and fees, and even insurance and capital expenditures.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also included a number of other provisions for small businesses, which I have laid out here. The legislation, however, does not extend the deadline of the PPP, though a bill has been introduced to do so through May 31. A coalition of lenders recently pressed lawmakers and the SBA to extend the deadline and clear thousands of PPP loans currently being held up by error codes. Small-business groups have also asked for the deadline to be extended to give more time for sole proprietors and gig workers to apply under new rules put forth by the Biden administration in February.