Shuttered Venue Operators Grant helps Summit County arts organizations
The coronavirus pandemic has not been kind to the arts and entertainment industry. Performers struggled to make a living, seats sat empty and venues went dark. However, after months of waiting, organizations are now finally seeing substantial monetary assistance from the Small Business Administration.
Born out of the Save Our Stages Act, money for the administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant comes from the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Eligible applicants — such as venue operators, promoters, live-event producers and museums that were impacted by the pandemic — could qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million.
So far, $8.4 billion has been awarded to more than 10,800 businesses nationwide. Four local Summit County groups recently received hundreds of thousands of dollars to support operating costs.
According to the Small Business Administration, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre received $196,378, Breckenridge Creative Arts received $191,211, Lake Dillon Theater Co. got $325,916 and 10 Mile Music Hall got $529,873. As of Aug. 2, there have been 236 venues awarded grants in Colorado for a total of $155.65 million.
For Backstage Theatre, which has mostly been closed throughout the pandemic, the money puts the organization in a solid position with a financial buffer and allows employees to be rehired over the next few months.
Jim Anderson, chair of the theater company’s board, said the success of this summer’s “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” also aided in the reopening process. Together, he said it will help carry them through to the next fundraising campaign.
“That brought in some nice revenue, but you don’t always bring in a lot of revenue,” Anderson said. “Some plays will break even. Some plays will be comfortably in the black. Some plays will lose a little money. This provides us an additional cushion to the financial situation. … It’s a significant amount of money; it’s not trivial.”
Tamara Nuzzaci Park, acting president and CEO of BreckCreate and the executive director of Breckenridge Music, said part of the funds will help increase pandemic safety precautions for future shows, such as retaining and recruiting staff specifically to handle the guest experience. She’s glad the nonprofit received the grants, but she said it likely wouldn’t have if the two groups didn’t recently merge.
“The amount that we received was primarily based on the lost revenue between 2019 and 2020 for the Breck Music side of business, but we wouldn’t have been eligible if we weren’t also part of an organization that managed a venue,” Nuzzaci Park said. “It really was a win-win and a great opportunity for us to look at how to get back into the business.”
Nuzzaci Park credits the National Independent Venue Association for lobbying on behalf of arts organizations to get the legislation passed.
“It really makes a huge difference in our ability to weather the storm and continue in this unknown environment moving into the winter and for us to get beyond the day to day … to ensure the longevity of our organization,” Nuzzaci Park said.
10 Mile Music Hall is likewise thankful for the National Independent Venue Association’s efforts. The Frisco music venue has used the funds to get out of debt and entirely refund ticket holders from past canceled shows.
“We’re ecstatic that we’re finally able to refund everyone from the pre-COVID shows and that we are going to be able to continue operating and giving our community great music in the future,” 10 Mile co-owner Todd Altschuler said.
The grant program closed Aug. 20; however, the administration plans to reopen it again soon. Previous applicants will be able to receive supplemental grants for 50% of their original award amount, capped at $10 million. Visit SBA.gov for more information.
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