CHEYENNE – A new CARES Act relief program for entertainment venues like concert halls and movie theaters will open in coming weeks, and each venue is eligible to receive 45% of gross earned revenue, with a maximum grant award of $10 million.

While applications have yet to open for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants, U.S. Small Business Administration leaders told eligible agencies during a webinar on the grants Thursday afternoon to prepare their documents for when the funding becomes available.

Funds will be distributed on a rolling basis, with a prioritization on small businesses that have lost the most revenue; those with more than 50 employees can apply two months after the grant program opens, which will be a benefit for smaller Wyoming businesses.

“The team here at the SBA has been hard at work, getting this program organized and ready to launch as soon as humanly possible,” said Barb Carson with the SBA Office of Disaster Assistance. “We’ve received input from a number of stakeholders to ensure that we take the eligible applicants’ needs into consideration.”

The grants cover a wide range of the entertainment industry: theatrical producers; live performing arts organization operators; museum, zoo and aquarium operators; live venue operators or promoters; movie theaters and talent representatives. Most venues in the entertainment industry have seen a dramatic change in operations from COVID-19, with musicians cancelling tours and health orders preventing large gatherings.

Venues need to have been in operation on Feb. 29, 2020, to be eligible. But for entities that were in operation all of 2019, the grant will be the lesser amount of the following: 45% of their 2019 gross earned revenue or $10 million. For those that started after Jan. 1, 2019, and before the Feb. 29 eligibility deadline, the grant will be the lesser of the average monthly gross revenue for each full month in operation multiplied by six or $10 million.

During the webinar, SBA Senior Advisor Pat Gibson provided her advice for businesses on whether to apply for a second forgivable loan from the Paycheck Protection Program or a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. She said the shuttered venue grant has a broader range of uses, while the PPP focuses on employee wages.

“It covers a longer period than PPP, and it allows for broader use of funds. And finally, because it is a grant, it does not need to be repaid,” Gibson said. “However, those who received the grant will be required to document appropriate use of funds.”

Those interested in applying for this grant program should check for updates, and those with application questions can email

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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