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SBA grant to aid operators of live entertainment venues

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The U.S. Small Business Administration is accepting new applications for its Shuttered Venue Operators Grant until Aug. 20. 

The grant program, which provides economic aid for live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits and venues, has awarded $8.4 billion to more than 10,800 businesses, according to a news release from the SBA. 

"After making much-needed improvements to this vital program, we've made swift progress getting more than $8 billion in funds into the hands of more than 10,800 performing arts venues and other related businesses, two-thirds of which employ less than 10 employees," SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. "However, we also know so many small businesses continue to struggle."

The SBA will provide additional aid through a supplemental award program when the new application window closes for 50% of the original award amount, capped at a total of $10 million. That program will open later this month, according to the release. 

The SBA is also accepting applications by invitation for reconsideration of award amounts and appeals, and said it may reopen the portal or make other adjustments if the need arises. 

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program was appropriated more than $16.2 billion in federal pandemic relief legislation, with at least $2 billion reserved for eligible applicants with up to 50 full-time employees. Applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant. 

Michael Moran, president and CEO of Stamford, Conn. theater The Palace, said the venue closed for 15 months in 2020 instead of a planned three or four weeks as expenses accumulated and little revenue came in.

"Simply stated, the Shuttered Venues Operator Grant was our lifeline," Moran said. "The grant has allowed us to return to full operation, including staffing and programming."

For technical assistance with the application portal, call 1-800-659-2955 or 1-800-877-8339 for the deaf of hard-of-hearing. More information on SBA economic relief programs is available online at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options. 

Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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