Applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program opened on April 8, only to be closed down after a few hours of continuous technical glitches. The SBA stated, "We are working closely with the SVOG application portal vendors to re-open as soon as possible. You can still register in the portal and we will share updates as they come available. We will also share an exact time and date prior to the re-opening of the SVOG application portal."
Since the SVOG program was announced, LCA has provided our own FAQs and updates on important details, including an Application Assistant that enables you to test your eligibility and assemble your documents. Those resources are collected further down this page.
We also continue to respond to individual SVOG questions through our Brief Service Response Center, and we’ve decided to post the questions with our answers immediately below. Please send us your SVOG questions and any insights you’ve gleaned from other sources, so that we can convey that information to others watching this site.
LCA Answers Your Questions
LCA has received a number of substantive questions regarding the application over the last few days. We are posting those questions, and our responses, below. To ask a question of your own, please contact us through our Brief Service Response Center.
1. The SVOG application asks for our System for Award Management (SAM) number. We don’t have one. What do we do?
Registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) is required for your organization to be able to apply for federal grants including SVOG. See FAQs #1 & 2 under Application.
SAM is a web-based, government-wide application that collects, validates, stores, and disseminates business information about the federal government's trading partners in support of the contract awards, grants, and electronic payment processes.
Use the SAM Status Tracker to check your organization's registration status with SAM. You may also contact your grant administrator, financial department, chief financial officer, or authorizing official to identify whether your organization has already registered with SAM. If your organization is already registered, take note of who is listed as the E-Business Point of Contact (EBiz POC).
To register with SAM, go to the SAM website with the following information:
When you register a new entity in SAM to do business with the U.S. government, SAM requires that you notarize your affirmation that you’re authorized to apply for and request activation of a SAM number for your entity. Most banks provide free notary public services to their customers.
When your organization registers with SAM, you must designate an EBiz POC, who will serve as the primary point of contact for the SAM registration.
Generally, after completing the online registration and sending your notarized letter confirming the entity administrator, it takes up to two weeks to register with SAM, then 1 business day for updates made in SAM to be reflected in Grants.gov. However, your organization must first have an EIN. If your organization does not have an EIN, you can get one online.
2. What is a DUNS number, and how do we get one?
A DUNS number is a unique nine-character number used to identify your organization. The federal government uses the DUNS number to track how federal money is allocated.
Most large organizations, libraries, colleges, and research universities already have a DUNS number. You should contact your grant administrator, financial department, chief financial officer, or authorizing official to identify your organization's DUNS number.
If your organization does not yet have a DUNS number, or no one knows it, visit the Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) website or call 1-866-705-5711 to register or search for your DUNS number.
Registering for a DUNS number is free of charge, so if you encounter any organizations or websites soliciting a fee or charge to acquire a DUNS number it is likely a scam or fraudulent.
You will need all the information listed below to obtain a DUNS number:
Name of organization
Name of the chief executive officer (CEO) or organization owner
Legal structure of the organization (e.g., corporation, partnership, proprietorship)
Year the organization started
Primary type of business
Total number of employees (full and part-time)
How long does it take to obtain a DUNS number? Allow up to two business days to obtain a DUNS number, but it can occur in one business day.
3. The SBA wants us to upload a business license, but ours is inactive due to the pandemic. What do I do?
The SVOG application requests that you upload your organization’s business license. Some states and municipalities do not require business licenses, and the SBA recognizes that and, in that situation, does not require one to be uploaded. Still, the SBA wants you to create and upload a document explaining that your State, County, or Local government does not require a business license, and that is the reason you have not uploaded one.
A related question arises in the situation in which local law requires you to maintain a business license, and you have one, but it is currently inactive because you are not currently operating. There is no direct advice from the SBA on this situation. However, the SVOG rules do require you to state your intent to re-open, and it stands to reason that that representation should be enough. There are two ways to proceed in this situation: (1) Use this period of the portal’s downtime to reactivate your business license for the nominal cost and then upload the activated license; (2) Upload your existing (but inactive) license along with a document explaining your intent to reactivate as soon as COVID requirements permit. Of these two options, (1) is more likely to save yourself a longer conversation with the SBA.
4. The SBA says that we need to engage someone to perform at least two of the following roles: a sound engineer; a booker; a promoter; a stage manager; security personnel; or a box office manager. We have one person who performs several of these roles. What should we do?
The SVOG Eligibility Requirements state that you can “engage one or more individuals to” carry out at least two of those roles. They even say that staffing your box office with volunteers would be sufficient. Check at least two of the boxes describing functions performed by one or more of your workers, and you should be fine.
5. The application wants us to upload payroll statements. We pay our artists stipends as independent contractors. What should we do?
Upload whatever documentation you have. Since the SBA refers to “payroll statements,” if you don’t have payroll records (i.e., from ADP), your best strategy is to upload financial documents (QuickBooks or other journal entries) documenting payments made to artists. Another option might be to upload written agreements showing your arrangements with, and payments to artists. And, you can include a cover page with a brief description of the arrangements to provide context. If you’d like help putting together such a description, reach out to us through LCA’s Brief Service Response Center.
6. Does an applicant need to show that they presented four (4) events per month before the pandemic?
That requirement applies specifically to museum operators, which must show that they have at least one auditorium, theater, or performance or lecture hall with fixed audience seating and “regular programming,” which the SBA has defined as “programming provided on an ongoing and near-continuous basis of an average of at least four times a month over the course of a year.”
This requirement does not appear to apply to Live Venue Operators or Promoters, Theatrical Producers, Live Performing Arts Organization Operators, Motion Picture Theatre Operators, or Talent Representatives. Those entities will be eligible regardless of whether they presented four events per month.
7. The SVOG application asks, "Does Applicant venue have a defined performance and audience space?” How do I answer this if we merely rent a space for performances?
The SVOG program does not state that applicants are required to own, or exclusively occupy, a performance space. Live venue promoters, theatrical producers, and live performing arts organization operators do not own or rent their own space, but they are all specifically eligible. The SVOG FAQs even specifically state that a theatrical producer that stages performances in multiple venues can be eligible for the grant. See FAQ #14 under Live Venue Operator or Promoter.
The application question appears to relate to a different question – whether your performance space is specifically designed for live performances, as distinguished from a multi-purpose space or a bar area that can be converted to a makeshift stage. Thus, you will need to provide a floor plan for the performance spaces that your organization rents, and at least one of those spaces will need to have defined performance and audience spaces, as well as the equipment and features more fully defined in the SVOG facility requirements set forth in the SBA’s SVOG Eligibility Requirements.
8. Our venue was fully operational on February 29, 2020, but our lease expired during the second half of 2020. Our company plans to reopen, but we do not plan to reopen in our old space. What should I do?
Your situation should not disqualify you. The application does not require that you plan to reopen in your previous space, but merely that you intend to re-open. The application does ask you to confirm your intention to re-open. See page 29 of the SVOG Applicant User Guide.
Additional SVOG Resources and Assistance
Access to FAQs, eligibility requirements, and more.
A must read (or at least skim) for SVOG applicants.
Determine your eligibility and priority, and compile the required documents.