What You Should Know about the SVO Grant: A PPP Alternative for Entertainment Venues

small business Jan 19, 2021

It’s been a difficult year for many small businesses, but live event venues have been hit especially hard. With many regions around the U.S. still in shelter-in-place, events like concerts are impossible. To help live events operators survive until it’s safe to gather in groups again, Congress created a grant program called the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVO) at the end of 2020 in the stimulus bill. The SVO will be distributed through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Here’s what you need to know about the SVO grant, including eligibility, how to apply and spending requirements.

What is the SVO Grant?

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVO), is a special grant program created for theaters, concert venues, museums and other venue operators who have been impacted by shelter-in-place protocols.  Because these organizations have special challenges during social distancing periods due to the challenges of running live events safely, the SVO grants were created to meet their needs at the end of 2020. In total, the program includes $15 billion in grants.

Who is eligible?

The SVO program is designed primarily for organizations that run spaces or events where people gather in large groups, and are impacted by shelter in place. That includes:

-Live event venues and promoters (like concert venues)

-Movie theater operators

-Live performing arts events operators (like playhouses or dance companies)

-Talent representatives

-Some museums, zoos and aquariums

To be eligible for the SVO, your organization must have been in operation at the end of February 2020.

How much can you get?

If you’re eligible for the SVO program, you can receive 45% of your 2019 revenue or up to $10 million (whichever is lower). The SVO funds are distributed as grants, not loans, so they don’t need to be repaid. There are some requirements for how you use the money, but beyond those, the grants are yours in full.

The SVO funds will be distributed in stages, with smaller companies (with fewer than 50 employees), prioritized first.

What can you use it for?

The SVO grants can be used for a wide range of business operation needs, including payroll and expenses. The allowable expenses for the SVO are more flexible than the Paycheck Protection Program, which has strict spending requirements. Here are the expenses the SBA allows you to use your SVO grant for:

-Payroll (wages, payroll taxes, benefits, and other costs associated with having employees)

-Rent payments

-Utility payments

-Payments to independent contractors

-Insurance costs

-Administrative fees, like licensing fees

-Maintenance costs

-Advertising costs

-Worker protection expenses, like setting up plastic shields or buying PPE for employees

Can the SVO be combined with the PPP?

You cannot get an SVO grant and a PPP during this round of funding. You will need to choose one program or the other. You can get an SVO if you got a PPP in the first round of funding, however.

The PPP allows for businesses to receive 2.5x their monthly payroll costs in funds, while the SVO allows for businesses to receive 45% of their 2019 revenue. To decide which program to apply for, you should calculate which amount is higher, and also consider the spending requirements of both. 60% of your PPP loan must be spent on payroll costs, and you cannot use your PPP funds to pay independent contractors and still qualify for full forgiveness. If you want to have more flexibility in how you spend your funds, the SVO might be a better match, while if your main priority is paying employees the PPP is probably a better fit.

Are applications open yet?

Applications for the SVO program aren’t open yet. The SBA plans on opening the applications in stages, beginning with organizations with 50 employees or less than suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss in 2020 and broadening from there over several months.  You can see all the prioritization tiers here. We will keep you updated as applications open.

If you decide to apply for the PPP instead of the SVO, applications are now open through our partner lenders. You can learn more and get your application started with a free trial of Skip Plus.

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