Belly Up, Other Venues Get $19 Million in COVID Relief

Jefferson Starship Covault Belly Up (2)
Steve Covault

Nearly $19 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding will go to 28 local entertainment venues, theaters and museums throughout North County and south Orange County, it was announced Monday.

The $18,982,835 earmarked through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program is intended to help cover payroll, rent and mortgages, worker protection costs and other qualified expenses, according to Rep. Mike Levin, who represents the area.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for everyone in our community, and particularly for the local entertainment venues, theaters and museums that were forced to close,'' Levin said. "As we recover from the pandemic, I'm glad that local venues have received the federal relief they need to make up for some of their lost revenue and help reopen their doors to everyone who cherishes their events,'' he said.

Recipients of the funds include Solana Beach's Belly Up Tavern and North Coast Repertory Theatre; Vista's Moonlight Theater; the Oceanside Theatre Company, and Poinsettia Center for the Arts, also in Oceanside; the Lux Art Institute and La Paloma Theatre, both in Encinitas; and Carlsbad's New Village Arts and its music festival.

"Knowing these funds were on the horizon allowed Moonlight to confidently reopen in June and will help us to employ nearly 200 artists and technicians this year,'' said Colleen Kollar Smith, executive producer of the Moonlight Amphitheatre. "The last two months of producing for a live audience have reinforced what we knew to be true: The arts will play an essential role in helping our community heal and process the profound loss we have all experienced through the pandemic.''

The SVOG program was created as part of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, and amended in the American Rescue Plan Act. The Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Assistance administers more than $16 billion through the program.

Eligible applicants were able to qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with a maximum award amount of $10 million. A portion of the SVOG funding was reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

"Without a doubt, the SVOG has made a huge positive impact,'' said Joan Cumming, interim managing director for New Village Arts in Carlsbad. "This grant has enabled New Village Arts to hire two full-time positions and one part-time position, and ensures that we can reopen our theatre with a brand new, world-premiere musical in November.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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