The US Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) programme has opened to support live venues impacted by COVID-19 after almost year-long shutdowns.

The $16.2bn programme, opened by the Small Business Association (SBA) yesterday (Thursday), will support live performing arts organisations, museums, cinemas, live venue promoters, theatrical producers, and talent representatives.

SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said: “Concerts, plays, dance performances, movie premieres, museum exhibits – these are the lifeblood of culture and community, and often the anchor for travel, tourism and neighbourhood food and retail stores.

“We know that for the stage and venue operators across the nation that help make this culture happen, the pandemic has been devastating. Too many have been forced to lower the final curtain on their businesses.”

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45 per cent of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10m for a single grant.

Venues that suffered a 90 per cent or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic will take priority during the first 14 days of SVOG awards, which are expected to begin in late April.

The second 14 days will include entities that suffered a 70 per cent or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020.

The SBA, which is administering the grants, is accepting SVOG applications on a first-in, first-out basis.

Following the initial awarding periods, entities that suffered a 25 per cent or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020 will be considered.

In addition, at least $2bn will be reserved for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

The programme was formed as a result of the bipartisan Save Our Stages act, which was approved as a part of the stimulus bill in December 2020.