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Federal grant helps performing artists bounce back after pandemic

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant open to performing artists and venues
Posted at 11:22 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 23:22:44-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — In a year of social distancing and fewer gatherings, performing arts have taken a direct hit.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant is focusing solely on anyone who plays a role in bringing the performing arts to the stage. The money is solely to help artists rebound.

On stage is where Tallahassee Night's Live is most comfortable. Tallahassee Night's Live President Darius "Doc D" Baker said for the last 13 months, it's been a challenge to get there.

"We actually have only done one live event since last March. Even with that one on the stage, no one was close up," said Baker.

Fewer gigs mean less money for performers. Many of those performers have struggled to qualify for other grants and loans related to the pandemic.

"A lot of people look at artists and musicians and say they're just doing it on the side. For some people, this is their profession. It's their livelihood," said Baker.

Now artists, promoters, and venue owners can apply for the Small Business Administrations Shuttered Venue Operators Grant to recoup some of those losses due to the pandemic. Leon County Council on Culture and Arts CEO Kathleen Spehar said COCA has roughly 1,000 artists and about 225 venues on their roster. There are even more in the community who qualify.

"It gives them a substantial amount of income to use in a whole variety of ways," said Spehar.

SVGO has $16 billion available. Applicants can get up to 45 percent of the money they brought in based on 2019's earnings.

Demand for that money so high, moments after the application launched, the website crashed. One hour before the window opened for businesses to apply, the Capital City Chamber of Commerce and COCA broke down various aspects of the grant on Facebook Live.

Capital City Chamber of Commerce President Katrina Tuggerson said the main focus now is making sure everyone who qualifies knows is well-equipped to get that money. Both organizations are contacting venues and performers directly to let them know how to apply.

"Sometimes the small businesses, they're scared. They say should I apply for this? Should I not apply for this? We've been a resource that they can call get help," said Tuggerson.

The first two weeks of the grants are reserved for anyone that suffered a 90 percent or greater revenue loss between April 2020 through December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can apply for the grant by clicking here.