The Small Business Administration said Friday that it now expects to begin distributing grants under the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program next week.
The agency previously said it would award grants this past week, but no funds have yet been distributed. The update comes after a long-delayed opening of the program and then technical issues and a few false starts which prevented applicants from applying until April 26.
“While there continues to be some fine-tuning of technical components of the program, we expect SVOG Priority 1 (90% revenue loss) awards to tentatively begin next week, kicking off a 14-day priority period. We will then move on to begin processing Priority 2 awards,” a spokesperson for the SBA said in a statement to Broadway News.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Small Business has a hearing scheduled Wednesday to examine the SBA’s handling of the grant program and several others during the pandemic.
Earlier this week, the SBA said it had received 12,213 applications to the program, with the majority of applicants coming from live venue operators or promoters, followed by live performing arts organization operators. Priority 2 awards encompass entities that have experienced a revenue loss of 70% or greater.
The majority of Broadway productions are expected to fall in the Priority 2 category, due to insurance proceeds received during the pandemic.
Right now, the applications are in the pre-award phase, with submissions reading “submitted,” “in review” or “in final review,” the spokesperson said. The next step will be the “notice of award” phase, during which applicants will be notified as to whether their submission was accepted and then can move to receiving the grant.
If approved, applicants can receive grants of up to $10 million to cover expenses including payroll costs, rent, mortgage payments and utilities. The SBA has more than $16 billion to distribute to Broadway theater owners, productions, production offices and more.
Based on the applications submitted as of May 3, the agency said it expected to have $6.3 billion remaining even if all grants received at that point were approved.
On Friday, Broadway leaders, including Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin and League Chair Lauren Reid, joined with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to emphasize the importance of the grants in bringing back Broadway productions.
The grant program is also open to museums, zoos and independent music venues, many of which have been struggling as funding from the Shuttered Venues program continues to be delayed.