(The Center Square) – Movie theaters, entertainment venues and museums throughout Missouri forced to close during the pandemic are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency federal assistance.
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, signed into law in December 2020. It was amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. More than $16 billion in grants will be distributed by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
Approximately $270 million is being distributed to more than 200 entertainment venue and museum operators, motion picture theaters and theatrical producers throughout Missouri. All eligible applicants qualify for 45% of their 2019 gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount for a single grant capped at $10 million. Applicants could apply for supplemental grants if the initial grant was less than $10 million and whose 2021 first quarter earned revenue was no more than 30% of its 2019 amount for the period.
A museum operator (Zoological Society of St. Louis) and live venue operator (Fox Theatre) in St. Louis and a motion picture theater operator based in Liberty (B&B Theatres) each received the $10 million maximum. The American Theatre Guild of Kansas City received $9.7 million.
Brock Bagby, an executive vice president at B&B Theatres, told CNBC last October he was working with the National Association of Theatre Owners to lobby the government for financial assistance.
“The government shut us down, so we would hope they’d help us,” Bagby said. “I mean, we didn’t shut ourselves down… It’s still devastating.”
Applicants with a 90% or greater gross-revenue loss between April and December 2020 due to the pandemic were given highest priority in receiving the grants; the next priority level was entities suffering a 70% or greater loss. Plus, during the first 59 days of the application process, $2 billion was reserved for grants to entities with no more than 50 employees.
The funds can be used for a wide range of expenses, including payroll, rent, utilities, mortgages, payment to independent contractors, administrative costs, business expenses, state and local taxes and fees, insurance and advertising, production transportation and capital expenditures related to producing a theatrical or live performing arts production.
Branson, with more than 100 live shows according to the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau, had 23 businesses receive $19.4 million in grants. ITEC Attractions, which operates the Branson IMAX Entertainment Complex, received Branson’s largest grant at $6.4 million. Hughes Entertainment, Inc., operators of the Hughes Brothers Theatre, received Branson’s second-largest grant at $1.7 million. Presleys’ Country Jubilee, the country music theatre established in 1967 that started attracting millions of tourists to Branson, received a $1.2 million grant.
The Branson grants were distributed May 27 through Aug. 21. Compared to 2020, Branson reported revenues from its 1% city sales tax increased 133.5% to $117 million in May, 72% to $166 million in June and 34.5% to $167 million in July.
Here are the top 25 Missouri SVOG grant recipients as of Oct. 25:
- $10,000,000 Zoological Society of St. Louis
- $10,000,000 B & B Theatres Operating Company Inc., Liberty
- $10,000,000 Fox Associates, L.L.C., St. Louis
- $9,653,116 The American Theatre Guild, Kansas City
- $7,624,081 Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Foundation, Springfield
- $6,542,242 Starlight Theatre Association of Kansas City Inc.
- $6,398,617 ITEC Attractions Inc., Branson
- $6,295,908 Union Station Kansas City, Inc.
- $9,088,465 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise LLC (includes supplemental amount)
- $8,656,420 Smooth Jazz Cruise, LLC, St. Louis (includes supplemental amount)
- $5,514,129 Stifel Theatre, St. Louis (includes supplemental amount)
- $4,584,722 The Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis dba The Muny
- $4,575,343 Friends of the Zoo, Inc. of Kansas City
- $4,552,153 St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (includes supplemental amount)
- $4,213,092 The Pageant, LLC, St. Louis
- $3,913,346 Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (includes supplemental amount)
- $3,731,265 Kansas City Symphony (includes supplemental amount)
- $3,108,252 St. Louis Science Center Foundation
- $2,904,499 St. Charles (County) Family Arena
- $2,705,036 Wentzville Cinema Company
- $2,658,483 Carden International Circus Inc., Springfield
- $2,618,532 B & B Movie Theatres L.L.C., Gladstone
- $2,522,133 The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (includes supplemental amount)
- $2,442,148 Kansas City Ballet Association (includes supplemental amount)
- $2,249,636 Quixotic Entertainment, LLC, Kansas City (includes supplemental amount)
Musicians perform at Presleys’ Country Jubilee in Branson, which received a federal shuttered venue operators grant of $1.2 million.