Millions being distributed to music and entertainment venues
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[October 15, 2021]
By Kevin Bessler
(The Center Square) – Illinois music and
entertainment venues that closed their doors due to the pandemic are now
getting millions in grant money as part of a federal program aimed at
helping keep their doors open.
Congress passed the $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program
to offer a lifeline to live performance and event venues, theaters and
Rick Edgar, general manager of the Peoria Civic Center, said the venue
received $2.5 million. He said when the venue was forced to shutdown, it
caused a ripple effect.
“When we closed, we just didn’t lose jobs directly and lose our
business, restaurants closed permanently, hotels have shut down in this
part of the state,” Edgar said.
At first, the SVOG program was plagued by technical problems that
delayed the application process. In June, two months after the
application process opened, only about 30 grants had been awarded. Now
the money is flowing.
Millions of dollars have gone out to venues across Illinois. Shedd
Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo, Field Museum, Art Institute, and the Second
City Theater in Chicago all received $10 million with several other
venues getting the same.
The awards vary widely in size and have gone out all over the state.
From $30,000 to the Galesburg Symphony society and $1.4 million to the
Rialto Theatre in Joliet to $218,000 to a movie theater complex in
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Abby Koester, president and CEO of the Children’s
Museum of Illinois in Decatur, said the $110,000 in grant funds the
museum received will be useful because the museum is still has not
returned to normal operations.
“They are being used for our general operating
funds,” Koester said. “While we’re open, we are still operating at
lower than normal numbers.”
Some venues are wondering why they have been denied a SVOG grant.
The Intercept reported, as of September 27, the Small Business
Administration has denied nearly 30% of applications. While
businesses can appeal the SBA’s decision, the agency doesn’t reveal
the reason for the denial, so the business owner is left to figure
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, has introduced legislation in
Washington that would extend the deadline for using the SVOG funds
until spring 2023.
“Many music venues and theaters have waited a long time for the SBA
to distribute grant funds, but bureaucratic delays have slowed the
process of getting the funds out the door,” Davis said. “With the
grant program expiring in less than three months and the pandemic
still negatively impacting their industry, it’s important that we
extend the program’s deadline so venues can fully utilize the grant