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Save our Stages Act – Impact for Theatrical Productions

Updated as of March 22, 2021

SVOG Applications for Theatres Set to Open April 8th

On Friday, March 19, 2021, the SBA website was updated to indicate the target date for SVOG applications to open is April 8, 2021.

The website now includes a link to the SVOG Application Portal where applicants can sign up to be informed when the application opens.

An SBA spokesperson also noted that the agency plans to have an informational webinar regarding the application process on March 30, 2021 (SVOG Application Webinar Registration).

We will keep you updated as we learn more information,


Originial article published on January 8, 2021

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, signed into law in late December 2020, included Section 324 titled – Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators.  This section previously known as the Save our Stages Act provides for up to $16.25 billion in grants to be administered by the Small Business Administration for; live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers or live performing arts organization operators, a relevant museum operator, a motion picture theatre operator, or a talent representative that meets certain requirements.

As noted above, the Act provides benefits to many different businesses involved in the entertainment industry and contains specific requirements and restrictions applicable to the businesses mentioned above.  This article is meant to focus primarily on the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants and the eligibility requirements and restrictions applicable to theatrical productions.

Please contact us for additional information on other eligibility requirements and restrictions for producers themselves and or other mentioned entertainment businesses.  You should also refer to our memorandum “Employee Retention Credits and How They Interact with Other Benefits”  for additional information on other programs that may be available.

We encourage you to visit the SBA’s SVOG webpage where you can find Frequently Asked Questions and other information regarding the program. There remain unanswered questions and areas open to interpretation with regards to the program.  We may be recommending that you obtain legal counsel to assist with some of the specifics.

For theatrical productions the requirements are that the theatrical production: 

  1. Was fully operational on February 29, 2020
  2. Suffered a reduction of at least 25% in gross earned revenue during at least one quarter of 2020 as compared to the corresponding quarter of 2019
  3. As of the date of the Grant must have resumed or intend to resume organizing, promoting, managing or hosting future live events
  4. Does not have, or is not majority owned or controlled by an entity which is listed on a national securities exchange, or receives more than 10% of gross revenue from federal funding
  5. Does not itself meet, or is not majority owned or controlled by another entity that meets all three of the following: owns or operates locations in more than one country, owns or operate locations in more than ten States, employs more than 500 full-time employees as of February 29, 2020
  6. Not contain matter of a prurient sexual nature

Amount and Timing of the Grants

The total maximum amount of Grants that a theatrical production can receive is $10,000,000 during both an application for an initial grant and any supplemental grant.  Most theatrical productions that had operations in 2019 will be eligible for an initial grant.  For an eligible production that was in operation on January 1, 2019, the Grant is equal to 45% of the gross earned revenue of the entity during 2019, and for a production that began operations after January 1, 2019, an amount equal to 6X the average monthly gross earned revenue for each full month that the production was in operation.  In both cases capped at a maximum of $10,000,000.

If the $10,000,000 maximum is not obtained in the initial grant, the production may receive a supplemental grant, if,  as of April 1, 2021, the production’s revenue for the first quarter of 2021 is not more than 30% of the revenue for the first quarter of 2019.  The supplemental grants are equal to 50% of the initial grant amount, and again there is a cap of $10,000,000 total for initial and supplemental grants combined

Supplemental grants can only be applied for after 60 days of processing of initial grants.  As it is expected there will be significant applications for initial grants, there may be no funds available for supplemental grants.

Based on affiliation rules, the total amount of grants that affiliated entities can receive is limited to 5 entities at a maximum of $10,000,000 per affiliated entity, or a maximum total of $50,000,000.

Initial Priorities for Awarding Grants

Under the program SBA will make grants in the following order of priority;

During the initial 14 day period of grant making SBA will only make grants to applicants with revenue for the period from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 that is not more than 10% of the applicant’s revenue during the same period of 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the next 14 day period the SBA will make grants to applicants with revenue for the period from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 that is not more than 30% of the applicant’s revenue during the same period of 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thereafter, all eligible grants will be considered.

Not less than $2,000,000,000 of the total amount of grants made available is intended to be awarded to eligible persons or entities which employ not more than 50 full-time employees.

 Permitted Use of Grant Funds

Initial grants may be used for specified costs incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021, however, grant recipients will have 12 months after receiving a grant to actually pay for the costs incurred by December 31.  Any unused funds will need to be returned to the SBA.

Specified costs (those related to theatrical productions) include;

  • Payroll costs including:
  1. Salary and wages up to a $100,000 cap per employee on an annualized basis
  2. Payment for vacation and sick leave
  3. Payments required for group health care, group life, disability, vision or dental insurance benefits
  4. Payment for retirement benefits
  5. Payment of State and Local tax assessed on the compensation of employees and
  • Covered rent costs
  • Covered utility payments
  • Worker protection expenditures
  • Payments to sole proprietors or independent contractors not to exceed a total of $100,000 in annual compensation for any individual employee of an independent contractor
  • Other ordinary and necessary business expenses, including:
  1. Maintenance expenses
  2. Administrative costs
  3. State and local taxes and fees
  4. Operating leases in effect as of February 15, 2020
  5. Required insurance payments; and
  6. Advertising
  7. Production transportation, and
  8. Capital expenditures related to producing a theatrical or live performing arts production, EXCEPT, that the Grant cannot be used primarily for these types of expenses

Grant funds cannot be used to purchase real estate, for investment, or for lending.

Steps you should be taking now

  1. Review the SBA’s Preliminary Application Checklist and ensure you have all of the requested documents available
  2. Have your entity’s DUNS number and SAMS (System for Award Management) number available. If you have not received government grants in the past, you will likely need to apply for the SAMS number.
  3. Prepare a schedule of their gross earned revenue (as defined in the SBA FAQs) by quarter for the periods January 1 – March 31, April 1 – June 30, July 1 – September 30thand October 1 – December 31st for both 2019 and 2020.
  4. Prepare a schedule of gross revenue (as defined in the SBA FAQs) by quarter for 2019 and 2020. Compare the gross revenue from April 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020 to gross revenue from April 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019  to determine the percentage reduction
  5. Prepare a schedule of expenses from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 that meet the above definition of Specified costs.  Please be sure to separate out any salaries or health benefits that were used for purposes of computing the Employee Retention Credit, for which the production received a refund.
  6. Keep a schedule of current expenses that meet the definition of Specified costs above.
We will be sure to share any additional information with you as it becomes available.  Please feel free to reach out to any of our team members with any questions.

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