January 14, 2021

Get Ready! The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program Will be Released “Soon”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 created a new grant program to provide funding aid to live venue operators and related businesses that are struggling due to COVID restrictions. This $15 billion program will provide grants of up to $10 million each to eligible entities, amounts dependent on prior gross revenue (see below).

The Small Business Administration is operating this program, and has yet to release guidance and application details. What we do know so far includes:

Eligibility – The following types of entities are eligible for a grant, including for-profit, non-profit, or government-owned entities. Types of organizations eligible include:

  • Live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, or live performing arts organization operators: Venues must be a defined performance and audience space; employ at least one person in a relevant role; have paid ticketing for most performances; their artists/performers are paid (unless for fundraisers or charitable events); and in the case of non-profits, events must be primarily managed by employees, not volunteers. These organizations must have 70 percent of earned revenue generated through cover charges or ticket sales, production fees or production reimbursements, nonprofit educational initiatives, or the sale of event beverages, food, or merchandise.
  • Museums must serve as a museum as its principal business activity; be established on a permanent basis for educational, cultural heritage, or aesthetic purposes; have indoor exhibition spaces that have been subject to COVID restrictions; and have at least one auditorium, theater, performance space, or lecture hall with fixed audience seating and regular programming.
  • Motion picture theatres must have at least one auditorium with fixed audience seating, motion picture projector, and a paid ticket charge.

Further, to be eligible, entities:

  • Must have been fully operational by February 29, 2020
  • Must demonstrate a 25 percent reduction between gross earned revenue in the second, third, or fourth quarter of 2020 as compared to the same quarter in 2019
  • Must intend to re-open or resume promoting, hosting, managing, or producing events
  • Cannot have received more than 10 percent of its annual revenue from Federal funding during 2019
  • Must have less than 500 employees, operate in the U.S. only, and in not more than 10 states

Amounts – Grants will be equal to one of the following:

  • 45 percent of gross earned revenue during 2019 (for eligible entities operational as of January 1, 2019)
  • 45 percent of monthly average gross revenue multiplied by six (for eligible entities operational after January 1, 2019)

The cap is $10 million per eligible entity.

Funding may be used to cover expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021.

Grant Priorities – Priority for grants will be given as follows:

  • Eligible entities with April 1-December 31, 2020 revenue of 10% or less of that during the same time period in 2019; these entities receive priority during the first 14-day window that the grant is open
  • Eligible entities with April 1-December 31, 2020 revenue of 30% or less of that during the same time period in 2019; these entities receive priority during the second 14-day window that the grant is open

After 28 days, the grant will be open to other eligible entities. At least 20% of all grant funds must be reserved to process grants after 28 days.

Further, supplemental grants may be made after all applications received within the first 60-day window have been processed. These supplemental grants may be equal to 50% of the initial grant, if the eligible entity’s revenue for the first quarter of 2021 is less than 30% that of the same time period in 2019. This funding can be used for expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2022. 

Application – The SBA has indicated that it will release information about the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program on its website “soon,” at www.sba.gov/coronavirusrelief. When the grant application is available, announcements will be made via social media and a press release, and issued through Grants.gov. The SBA recommends that in the meantime, potential applicants begin pulling together information about monthly revenues and a list of how funds would be used if awarded. 

At The Grant Plant, we also recommend that you start preparing by registering in Grants.gov. There are several steps to become registered with this platform, including creating an account, obtaining a DUNS number, and registering with the System for Award Management. Grants.gov offers several tutorials on registration as well as submitting an application. 

We’ll update information on this program as it becomes available, and encourage all our New Mexico businesses, non-profits, and government agencies eligible for this funding to be prepared to apply as soon as it opens.


  • Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, available at: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr133/text.
  • National Law Review, Front and Center: New SBA Grant Program for Shuttered Venue Operators. December 30, 2020.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration, Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program Webinar. January 14, 2021.

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