Save Our Stages Act to Support Independent Venues (About the Bill)

Save Our Stages Act to Support Independent Venues (About the Bill)

Thanks to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), 2021 has started off on a positive note for independent event promoters and entertainment venues with the passing of the Save Our Stages (SOS) Act. The SOS act was recently passed with the latest COVID-19 relief bill and assigns $15 billion for independent performing venues and other cultural programs defined in the bill's terms. 

Audrey Schaefer, Director of Communications for NIVA, discussed the bill in further detail on the latest episode of our podcast, EventBuzz.

Schaefer shares more about the organization and exactly why NIVA was built; "...during the first couple weeks of the pandemic, because [they realized] that there is absolutely no way that independent venues can survive this without federal assistance...[they] came together in April, now have 3,000 members and are in all 50 states and Washington D.C."

To listen to the entire episode, click here, search for the EventBuzz podcast on your favorite streaming service or listen below!

 

 

 

 

About #SaveOurStages and new stimulus package

your-voice-matters

The $15 billion relief package was passed to aid independent promoters and cultural institutions during COVID-19 along with the Coronavirus Response and Relief Act Supplemental Appropriations Act.

So who can apply and how do the SOS grants work?

The act was created and passed to "...provide emergency relief for independent venues and promoters across the country" says Schaefer. 

SOS is meant to support and give venues/promoters that short-term boost they need to get through the damaging effects of COVID and come out on top post-pandemic. If awarded a grant, funds can only be used towards the usual expenses; payroll, rent, utilities, staff, contractors, insurance, taxes, etc. 

 

 

Eligibility requirements for the SOS Act (independent grants)

Who are eligible:

  • Live performance venue operators and promoters
  • Performing arts organizations
  • Theatrical producers
  • Talent representatives
  • Motion picture theatre operators
  • Non-profit museums

 

Essentially, you may be eligible for a grant if you’re an eligible operator, promoter, producer or talent representative. 

NIVA also defined the broad eligibility requirements as following:

  • The business entity must have been “fully operational” on February 29, 2020.
  • The business entity must be able to demonstrate 25% gross earned revenue loss in any one calendar quarter of 2020 compared with than the same calendar quarter of 2019. 
  • The business entity must be operating or intending to resume operations in the future.

 

These eligibility requirements below are more specific to promoters, live performance venues, performing arts and producer: (this information comes directly from NIVA)

 

1. Operator promotes, produces, manages, or hosts live concerts, comedy shows, theatrical productions, or other events by performing artists or the artists and entertainers represented or managed by the talent representative perform must have all of the following characteristics:


    • A defined performance and audience space.
    • Mixing equipment, a public address system, and a lighting rig.
    • Engages 1 or more individuals to carry out at least 2 of the following roles: sound engineer, booker, promoter, stage manager, security personnel, box office manager.
    • Imposes a paid ticket or cover charge to attend most performances and artists are paid fairly and do not play for free or solely for tips (except fundraisers/charities). 
    • Events are produced and managed primarily by paid employees, not volunteers.
    • Performances are marketed through print or online media.


2. Additionally, one of the two following eligibility scenarios must be met:

    • Eligibility Scenario #1: 

      • The business entity must, as a principal business activity, organize, promote, produce, manage, or host live concerts, comedy shows, theatrical productions, or other events by performing artists.
      • A cover charge through ticketing or front door entrance fee must be applied.
      • Performers must be paid in an amount based on percentage of sales, a guarantee in writing or standard contract, or another mutually beneficial formal agreement.
      • At least 70% of the entity’s earned revenue is derived from cover charges or ticket sales, production fees or production reimbursements, nonprofit educational initiatives, or the sale of event beverages, food, or merchandise in conjunction with a live event.

    • Eligibility Scenario #2:

      • The business entity, as a principal business activity, makes available for 
      • purchase by the public an average of not less than 60 days before the date of the event tickets to live concerts, comedy shows, theatrical productions, or other events by performing artists.
      • Performers must be paid in an amount based on percentage of sales, a guarantee in writing or standard contract, or another mutually beneficial formal agreement. 

 

These eligibility requirements have been summarized for our readers. To see the complete terms of the bill, visit here.

 

FAQs about the SOS Act

“Do I need to pay anything back in the future?”

Grants are forgivable meaning you will not have to pay them back if approved and can cover up to 45% of a venue’s revenue in 2019. These grants exclude corporate promoters/planners and coffee shops with mic nights and local artists.

 

“What happens if I get approved for a grant and accept it?”

According to Billboard.com, if you accept any grant funds, participants are required to “…maintain four years of employment records after receiving the funds and three years of all business records. Each applicant can apply for five grants covering five “business entities,” including multiple music venues, and a minimum of $2 billion must be allocated to venues with less than 50 full time employees. Operators of venues that offer performances of “prurient sexual nature” -- like strip clubs or sex shows -- are not eligible for the program.”

Remember there are two types of grants being awarded; (1) the initial grant and (2) the supplemental grant. 

The initial grant is equal to 45% of your 2019 gross earned revenue.

The supplemental grant may be awarded and distributed if funds remain after the initial grants. This second grant would be equal to 50% of the initial grant amount possibly awarded to those still experiencing 70% earned revenue loss in comparisons of the first quarter of 2021 to the initial quarter of 2019. 

 

“When can I apply for the SOS grants?”

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is currently in the process of developing application rules, regulations and forms for the SOS program. Once completed, they will begin accepting applications. To stay informed and up-to-date on this process, you can become a NIVA member, for free, by applying here. 



SOS Application timeline provided by the NIVA

 

  • Days 1-14: The only applications accepted will be from entities whose total revenue for April 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 is 10% or less of their 2019 gross revenue for the same period.

  • Days 15-28: The only applications accepted will be from entities whose total revenue for April 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 is 30% or less of their 2019 gross revenue for the same period. 

  • Day 29 and on:  Any eligible entity may apply for an initial grant.  

    NOTE:  No more than 80% of the total allocation may be awarded in the first 28 days. 
    NOTE:  $2 billion (of the $15 billion program) is reserved for entities with fewer than 50 FTEs. 

 

All grants issued will be reviewed by the SBA to review for misspent funds, fraud, and noncompliance. The SBA will be requiring 4 years of employment records and 3 years of other records after receiving the grant. 

 

 

About the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA)

niva

NIVA was created in direct response to the current pandemic, COVID-19, to preserve the live music industry, independent performance venues and promoters throughout the U.S. The foundation is made up of independent promoters that came together in April to lobby Congress for funding for live music venues to avoid permanent closure.

After 10 months of fighting, the act, Save Our Stages was passed! The organization is currently accepting donations for their emergency relief fund. Although the act is passed, the process and implementation takes time. The NIVA Emergency Relief Fund supports the efforts to raise money to assist venues who risk permanent closure while waiting for the grant to come through.

To donate and assist independent venues who risk permanent closure, click here

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