Rumor Has It
Save Our Stages
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
The time draws nigh.
No, I’m not talking about the end of the COVID-19 crisis—that end is still a very long way off. Nor am I talking about the end of the long national nightmare known as the administration of former president, pocket dictator and despot king of the Oompa-Loompas Donald Trump—but if you’ve spent four years waiting to exhale, now’s the time to let that stale air out and breathe in the oxygen of returned sanity.
Instead, I’m referring to that magical day when independent music venues will be able to apply for potentially life-extending Save Our Stages grants.
Except they’re not called Save Our Stages grants anymore. These days, it’s known as the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, and its $15 billion in sweet sweet funds will be allocated to live performance venues (operators and promoters), theatrical producers, performing arts organizations, talent reps, motion-picture theater operators, nonprofit museums and subsidiaries of these organizations.
Fifteen billion dollars is a significant amount of money, but with the broadened scope of grant eligibility, it will no doubt go quickly. To be eligible for the grant, businesses must be able to show at least a 25 percent decrease in revenue during any one calendar quarter of 2020, a requirement indie music venue owners are likely laughing ruefully at given most of them can show a 100 percent decrease in revenue during the final three quarters of last year.
Speaking of those venues, in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of past forgivable federal funding programs (we’re looking at you, round one of PPP funding), when the grant window opens, the first two weeks of will be reserved for those venues and organizations that earned 10 percent or less of 2019’s revenue during the final three fiscal quarters of 2020. Translating that into simpler terms: It means that those who have been hit hardest will get funds first. During the following two weeks, that threshold will increase to 30 percent before eligibility opens to everyone.
Well, not quite everyone. Much in the same way this effort is trying to first get money into the hands of those who have suffered the most losses, it’s also attempting to give it to the people who need it most. That means publicly traded companies are not eligible, nor are companies with businesses in more than one country or more than 10 states, or those who had more than 500 full-time employees as of Feb. 29, 2020.
Locally, that means pretty much every venue and arts organization we love and want to see still in existence on the other side of the pandemic will be able to apply for grants. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.