Speak up: Congress finalizing next relief package
Congress is rapidly advancing a new $1.9 trillion package of COVID-19 relief, building on a proposal by the Biden-Harris Administration, and using the budget reconciliation process to speed approval with a simple majority vote in the Senate. The bill is being taken up by the Senate this week, where final changes to the scope of the relief provided will be rapidly considered as Congress aims to send a completed package to the President's desk before a number of provisions expire in mid-March.
Nearly every form of federal relief accessed by theatres and their partners in the arts and nonprofit sectors since the beginning of the pandemic could be expanded and extended in some way, and critical new forms of help are also on the table.
Thank you for continuing to speak up! Please continue to make your voice heard this week through the resources in TCG’s dedicated COVID-19 campaign:
Theatres are joining their voices with others across the arts to describe how COVID-19 relief can support community needs.
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Newest Developments on Shuttered Venue Operator Grants and PPP Loans
Even as Congress advances the next COVID-19 relief bill, federal agencies are still working to administer current forms of support signed into law last December. TCG’s COVID-19 Federal Assistance Resources keep you up to date on the status of the full array of available federal relief, including information about the expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit, which is compatible with both the Paycheck Protection Program and Shuttered Venue Operator grants. Meanwhile, note these two important updates:
Shuttered Venue Operator Grants: On February 28, the Small Business Administration (SBA) posted a substantially updated set of Frequently Asked Questions, outlining eligibility for the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOG) program. The newest FAQ states that declines in gross revenue will determine an applicant's eligibility for the priority grant award periods. The FAQ also includes an extensive list of defined terms and updates regarding eligible uses of funds and applications by affiliated organizations. The program is not yet open for applications, and the SBA has confirmed that further guidance is still in development. The agency plans to post comprehensive guidance, the application form, and training materials before the grant application portal is opened.
In the meantime, please consult the following resources:
TCG is asking policy leaders to take action to complete and finalize guidance to inform immediate decisions by applicants, take action to launch the program as soon as possible, and ensure the program is adequately funded to meet the needs of all seeking relief.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): As theatres and other applicants continue to make a final decision between seeking a Shuttered Venues grant or a PPP loan in 2021, the White House and SBA announced that starting on Wednesday, February 24 a 14-day period began during which Paycheck Protection Program applications will only be accepted from applicants with fewer than 20 employees and sole proprietors. The period ends on March 9, 2021, at 5:00pm Eastern. The SBA is also rolling out a new funding formula to better support sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals. According to the SBA announcement, "This will give lenders and community partners more time to work with the smallest businesses to submit their applications, while also ensuring that larger PPP-eligible businesses will still have plenty of time to apply for and receive support before the program expires on March 31, 2021." TCG has joined the broader nonprofit sector in asking Congress to expand the end date for the Paycheck Protection Program from March 31, 2021 to the end of the calendar year.
Learn More: TCG Advocacy Action Alerts & Updates