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The PPP of live music and theater, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program could boost recovery of Capitol Hill clubs and stages

(Image: Neumos)

Capitol Hill’s struggling live music, theater, and performance venues can join thousands of businesses across the country Thursday as the Small Business Administration finally begins accepting Shuttered Venue Operators Grant applications.

SVOG is the PPP of club and theater rescue plans with $16 billion lined up to help venues recover from a year of pandemic shutdowns. The first come, first served grant program is open to live music venues, performance theaters, small movie theaters, and even destinations like museums and aquariums.

CHS reported here on worries about potential losses in Capitol Hill’s live music and performance scenes as venues like Neumos and Chop Suey as well as small theaters struggled through pandemic restrictions. Velocity Dance has already announced the closure of its 12th Ave studio and a search for a new home after 24 years on Capitol Hill.

For applicants, SVOG joins a complicated matrix of federal assistance including PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering assistance to help the city’s venues weigh options and apply for help.

Applicants are eligible for grants equal to 45% of their gross 2019 earned revenue, with a maximum grant of $10 million. The 2019 receipts must be related to goods or services, not other sources of income like donations or sponsorship.

Like Paycheck Protection Program grants, SVOG money must be used for expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, or personal protective equipment.

Businesses that received a PPP loan this year will have their SVOG award reduced by the loan amount they already received but venues like Capitol Hill’s Neumos that received a $350,000 PPP boost last April won’t have any new grants reduced.

The program is set up to serve applicants in the order they are received but the process is being tiered. Businesses that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss are eligible first. After two weeks,  businesses that suffered revenue losses of 70% or greater can join the pool. Next come those with a loss greater than 25%. Awards should come relatively quickly starting late this month.

“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our businesses that rely on large groups of people gathering such as nightclubs, movie theaters, and live music venues,” Pamela Banks, Interim Director of Seattle’s OED, said. “Some businesses have pivoted their operations to respond to the public health crisis, however certain businesses — like those that would be eligible for SVOG — have not had that same opportunity given the nature of their work.”

Steven Severin, co-owner of Neumos and a member of the Washington Nightlife Music Association, calls the federal relief program “the single most important instrument that could have happened for music venues, promoters, talent buyers, etc. after this brutal year and change.”

“Without it thousands of venues would have closed across the country affecting millions and millions of people,” Severin said. “There simply are not words to express how important this piece of legislation was for us.”

The SVOG application portal was set to open Thursday.

You can learn more about the program and find out about help applying from Seattle OED:

For more information on SVOG, visit SBA’s website where video tutorials and FAQs are available, or OED’s COVID-19 Small Business Grants page. OED is providing assistance for grant opportunities such as SVOG, PPP, and EIDL, continues to assist business owners understand what other resources may be available to them, and provides in-language supports to access city, state and federal resources. Businesses can access this assistance by calling 206-684-8090 or emailing Bilingual assistance is available in Amharic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Thai, Tigrinya and Vietnamese. To request in-language assistance, businesses can call 206-684-8090 and note the following information: your name, phone number, preferred language and the type of support you need.

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5 days ago

The portal must be overwhelmed. I’ve been trying since 9am to get in. No luck. Anyone else having trouble?