Weeks after the “Save Our Stages Act” passed, details emerge for local shuttered venue operators

Applications expected to open soon. Here's how to get ready.

The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Reno hasn't been filled with a live audience since early 2020. It's among the many venues that qualify for a slice of a $15 billion federal aid package. Photo - courtesy Pioneer Center

After Congress approved $15 billion in pandemic relief to the nation’s theaters and music venues on Dec. 21 as part of a $900 billion overall aid package, details about some of the practicalities—most importantly how to apply—have been rolling out slowly.

Britt Curtis, director of The Holland Project, the Reno youth arts organization and all-ages music venue, has signed on to be Nevada’s outreach representative for the National Independent Venue Association’s (NIVA), the group that pushed for performing arts relief nationwide, resulting in the Shuttered Venues Operational Grant’s  being included in the federal package. (You may have also heard of the grant by its colloquial name, the “Save Our Stages Act.”)

In a phone interview on Jan. 20, Curtis explained what advocates know so far about the application process and what they’re likely to know soon. 

Who’s eligible? 

Some of the fine points about eligibility are yet to be announced. The Small Business Administration, the entity that will process requests and remit funding, lists “theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, relevant museum operators, motion picture theater operators, and talent representatives,” among a few others. (More info here.) 

The funding is intended for “independent venues.”

“There are a lot of questions coming up as the group works though this,” Curtis said. Music promotion companies appear to be eligible. Dinner theaters and university-run stages are among venues that may or may not qualify. Casino stages will not be eligible.

How do I apply?

The SBA expects to open an application portal soon, but a specific date has not yet been announced. 

Can I receive both PPP funding and shuttered venues funding? 

The answer is clear on this one. If you received a PPP loan on or after Dec. 27, 2020, you may not apply for shuttered venues funding. “You have to pick one or the other,” Curtis explained. (More info here.)

A pre-pandemic concert at the Holland Project, an all-ages music venue and youth arts organization in Reno’s Midtown. Venues such as this one qualify for the current round of relief funding, but it remains to be determined whether venues such as dinner theaters and university stages will qualify. Photo – couresy of The Holland Project

When will I learn more? 

Curtis said that local and state SBA representatives from Reno, Carson City, and Las Vegas expect to meet on Tuesday, Jan. 26 to discuss next steps, and that they hope to schedule a webinar for Nevada venue operators shortly afterward.

How can I make sure I’m notified of further announcements? 

“If you haven’t yet, the easiest/best way to do this is to sign up as a NIVA member,” Curtis said on Jan. 19 in a prepared statement. “You might have applied earlier in the year, but you will need to apply again if you did not update in the last month or so. You don’t have to be a member to apply for the relief funds, but it’s helpful to have the most current information and a giant network of resources and support.” You can join NIVA here.

What should I do in the meantime?

While this detail has not been 100-percent confirmed, Curtis is fairly certain that venues will need a DUNS number and a SAM number. These are federal identification numbers used to process grants. Non-profit venues that have received public funding in the past will likely already have DUNS and SAM numbers. For-profit venues will likely need to acquire them. Curtis recommends applying ASAP, as the process may take a while. (Apply for DUNS here. Apply for SAM here. There’s a Powerpoint explaining them both here.)

Who should I share this news with?

“I’d love your help making sure we’re not missing anyone,” Curtis said in the prepared statement. She urged people to spread the word about preparing to apply for funds to venues in rural Nevada, Spanish-language venues, and anyone who may have been left out of the initial rounds of PPP funding. “Venues are eligible as long as 70% of your revenue comes from live music/performance (this is to differentiate from businesses who only occasionally have live music, or it’s not central to their main operation),” she clarified.