Shuttered Venue Clarity, Part 1

Blackfriars Playhouse, photo by Lauren Rogers Parker

There has been a lot of writing and webinars on the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). No wonder, offer a grant equal to 45% of an organization’s gross earned revenue and folks will pay attention. However, when you combine the biggest grant program the SBA has been tasked to administer, a reduced SBA staff (help is on its way here), and the complexities of the broad arts industry, you end up with a lot of false and/or misleading information floating around. I hope to start to providing clarity here.

While I have been reading and watching everything I can get my hands on related to the SVOG, I also have to send huge thanks to Theatre Communications Group and, in particular, Laurie Baskin, TCG’s Director of Advocacy. The work Laurie and the TCG team have done to keep the nonprofit theatre industry informed and connected during the last year has been phenomenal.

Also, if you haven’t already, go register for the SBA webinar on SVOG right now. The webinar is on March 30 from 2:30-4:00p but don’t wait to register. You can also find a lot of helpful information on the SBA website, including FAQs (don’t bother watching the first webinar video, things have changed since then). Go ahead, I’ll wait.

OK, let’s dig into some important factors of the SVOG application process:

  • Yes, there are priority periods for grant application review, however, DO NOT WAIT to submit your application. Get your information in as close to the opening day (April 8) as you can. The SBA has said that they will handle the prioritization of applications and that all will be reviewed within the priority periods based on when they were submitted. If you don’t qualify for a priority period, it’ll be a minute before you hear anything but don’t wait to apply. The original legislation requires that 20% of grant funds (more than $3B) be held back for organizations applying after the first two priority periods.
  • The first two priority periods are based on the reduction in GROSS REVENUE between April 2020 and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
    • This means earned AND contributed for those of us who are nonprofit
    • First priority is for organizations with a 90% or greater loss year-over-year (first 14 days after application deadline)
    • Second priority is for organizations with a 70% or greater loss year-over-year (next 14 days)
  • Third priority requires a 25% or greater drop in any ONE QUARTER of 2020 compared to 2019. (starts 28 days after application deadline)
  • You will be able to save your application while in progress and finish later.
    • Check out the preliminary application checklist the SBA published so you can start gathering all the documents you will need
    • Remember that it is preliminary and there may be things added, changed, and/or removed
  • Your potential grant award is based on 45% of the organization’s 2019 GROSS EARNED REVENUE (up to $10M) (note the difference between revenue used to calculate priority period and grant award)
    • You can choose whether to use calendar year 2019 or your organization’s 2019 fiscal year. Run the numbers now so you know which will give you a larger potential award.
    • This is an all-or-nothing grant; you will either receive 45% (up to $10M) or your grant won’t be funded at all.
    • Yes, you can apply (and receive) a PPP after December 27, 2020 AND an SVOG.
      • You need to receive approval for the PPP (whether first or second draw) BEFORE you apply for the SVOG
      • You’ll need to deduct the amount of the PPP from the SVOG grant award on your application
    • SVOGs under $1M will be released in one or two installments; awards over $1M will be distributed in 2-4 installments

OK, go read the latest FAQs (published yesterday). Next, we’ll talk about some of the things you need for the application.

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