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On Thursday, the Small Business Administration is expected to begin accepting applications for the SVOG program, which was created under the Federal Economic Aid for Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Hard-Affected Sites Act, enacted on the 27th. December. The program initially earmarked $ 15 billion for the fight. in-person industries, including concert halls and theaters that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions and allow these companies to apply for the grant and a PPP loan.

The American Rescue Plan Act, which was enacted on March 11, added an additional $ 1.25 billion.

Most theater companies have seen between 70% and 90% of their revenues dry up during the pandemic, according to Ty Sutton, president and CEO of Dayton Live, which owns and operates the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, Victoria Theater, PNC Arts Annex, The arts garage and Metropolitan Arts Center, the home of The Loft Theater.

“(It helps) we have monthly parking, we have tenants in one of the buildings we own, but a lot of you are trying to run a business that is closed with no income to have to keep staff, you have to maintain the sites you own, ”Sutton said. “It was incredibly difficult.

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The closures and regulations related to the pandemic have been a challenge not only for large venues, but also for smaller ones such as 1,000-seat theaters, music clubs and the like, he said.

“We were shut down by warrant,” Sutton said. “That doesn’t mean you have to stop paying your bills, insurance, mortgages or rent. “

This means that the entertainment and cultural industries have the highest unemployment rate in the country, he said. In Ohio, about 30 percent of workers are unemployed, and many of them are looking for work in other industries, Sutton said.

“It’s been really tough, but what the grants mean is for people who have sites that hopefully can reopen and not shut down permanently,” he said. “But across the country, we’ve lost hundreds, if not thousands, of sites at this point.”

Closed in 2020 from mid-March to the end of December, Dayton Live sites offered live streaming events before reopening under state mandate at 25% capacity, which ended up being even smaller. once all the guidelines to follow have been implemented, he said. noted.

“In a typical year, we’ll see at least half a million visitors and we’re seeing 1, 2, maybe 3% of what we would normally see right now,” Sutton said.

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While the total city, county, town, state, and federal dollars have been helpful, “this (SVO grant program) is at least five times larger than all of those combined,” said he declared.

“For someone like us who has borrowed money in order to keep the sites running at a basic level, we have reduced the staff by over 80% at this point, it really is the difference for us to be able to reopen in a pretty healthy way, “Sutton said.” And when I say ‘enough’ we don’t know what kind of grant we’re going to get or not getting yet, but at least we’re hoping to open where we don’t. let’s not try to pay off the pandemic debt for the next 10 or 15 years.

With hundreds of performances and private events lost, as well as millions of dollars in revenue lost, “it’s definitely been 13 very, very painful months,” he said.

The SVO grant is not only “a massive piece” of the puzzle when it comes to keeping various sites afloat, it is also smart for the economy, he said.

“If sites like ours don’t come back, it will take even longer for the economy to recover, not only from the people we employ, but from the fact that there is a quality of life that comes from the kind of things we present to our communities, ”said Sutton.

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COVID-19 has definitely been “an interesting time” for museums, said Tomme of the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, who has been successful in creating virtual educational content and has continued to take care of his zoo animals. He’s also made some internal changes, like not replacing some staff who have left during the year, but with his zoo, collections and an aging building, he needs to do some things, she said.

“We have left some projects unfinished for now and have asked donors to allow us to reclassify certain funds allocated from projects to operations,” Tomme said. “With SVOG we will be in much better shape. Without these types of funding opportunities, it will take us years to recover.

Entities that applied for a PPP loan after December 27, 2020 can also apply for an SVOG, with the eligible entity’s SVOG to be reduced by the PPP loan amount, according to the Small Business Administration. The web page dedicated to the SBA, www.sba.gov/svogrant, understand Frequently Asked Questions, video tutorials and other SVOG details.


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