Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) and House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-07) sent a letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) requesting the agency’s partnership in making improvements to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program to help businesses facing ongoing disruptions due to the widespread Omicron Variant.
“Performing arts businesses were among the first to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be among the last to recover. Millions of these workers rely on businesses like theaters, cinemas, concert halls, and other arts venues for their livelihoods,” wrote Chu and Velazquez.
“But as the witnesses in our January 19 hearing testified, arts workers and venues have seen their economic recovery again halted by the record-breaking wave of COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron Variant.”
Because program rules restrict recipients of initial SVOG grants from using proceeds to cover expenses incurred after December 31, these businesses are left without a tool to address the ongoing crisis. Further, there are $2 billion in unobligated appropriations remaining in the program which must be used to support these businesses as soon as possible.
SVOG, which provided grants to concert venues, theaters, museums, and other businesses that host performances, has disbursed $14 billion in assistance to small businesses. But there are $2 billion in unused funds remaining in the program, and recipients are not able to use the grants for expenses incurred after December 31st, 2021.
On January 19th, 2022, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing on “The Power, Peril, and Promise of the Creative Economy,” during which small businesses testified to the need for adjustments to SVOG.