The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), along with several other leading arts organizations, has urged the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman to immediately fund all agencies and organizations eligible for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). Furthermore, NIVA has called on the SBA to resolve any interagency issues or barriers to funding.
According to a recent NIVA press release, “The $16.1 billion SVOG program, signed into law in December 2020, provides eligible movie theaters, live venue operators and promoters, talent representatives, and performing arts organizations with grants equal to 45% of their 2019 gross earned revenue, up to a maximum of $10 million.”
Financial support from the government has been crucial to venue operators in the age of COVID-19 as live performances and showings halted to a stop. However, those in the industry have called out the SBA’s shortcomings and broken promises to struggling businesses.
The SBA failed to meet the June 9 deadline to “grant funds to those businesses suffering 90% or more losses and to begin making grants to the second tier of businesses suffering 70% or more losses.” Out of over 14,000 possible grants to first and second priority businesses, the SBA has fulfilled only 90.
With the delay of SVOG funds, many businesses are failing to keep their doors open and book talent as live shows are finally starting to return. Fortunately, Congressional advocates and the White House itself have started to prioritize holding the SBA accountable for their promises and addressing bureaucratic delays.
The nationwide recovery of the live arts and entertainment ecosystem depends on the successful delivery of this vital federal relief. As the performing arts venues and organizations that are the fabric of communities across America, we are proud of collective efforts to fight for our survival, and we are rallying to cross the finish line.Lisa Richards Toney, President and CEO, Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP)
Regardless of the increasingly positive outlook, leaders and business owners remain displeased over how long it has taken to receive federal economic support.
Over 95% of the revenue of artists, gig workers and talent agencies have been annihilated for 15 months and this is unsustainable…over 1 million jobs in the arts have been lost, countless businesses have shut down, and we are on the verge of more devastating losses. We can go no longer as we have exhausted the funds from our savings, PPP Loans, EIDL loans and whatever assistance we have. We need money now.Charlotte Lee, Founder of Performing Arts Managers and Agents Coalition (PAMAC)
NIVA’s demands have been called on a unified front with the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP), the League of Historic American Theatres, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), National Independent Talent Organization (NITO), Performing Arts Managers and Agents Coalition (PAMAC), and the Performing Arts Alliance.
While the exact next steps are unclear, shuttered venues undeniably need this relief sooner rather than later.