(The Center Square) — The feds have given more than $251 million to 323 entertainment venues and organizations across Georgia as part of a program to help locations that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Center Square analysis of federal data shows.
The Small Business Administration awarded the money as part of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program between May 2021 and June 2022. The grants — which averaged more than $777,210 per grant — ranged from $2,585 to $10 million.
The American Rescue Plan established the $16 billion SVOG program.
Nearly a third of the grants (29.7%) went to recipients in Atlanta. Of the grants, 130 grants totaling more than $125.8 million went to live venue operators or promoters, while 74 grants totaling more than $26.3 million went to live performing arts organization operators.
Meanwhile, 52 grants exceeding $17 million went to talent representatives, 25 grants totaling nearly $7 million went to theatrical producers and 23 grants totaling $53.8 million went to motion picture theater operators. Museum operators received the remaining 19 grants, totaling more than $21 million.
Five venues — the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, the Georgia Theatre Company on St. Simons Island, GTC Riverwatch in Augusta and GTC South on St. Simons Island — received $10 million grants, the highest amount the SBA could award under the program.
The SBA stopped accepting new applications for the program in August 2021. The SBA awarded recipients grants of up to 45% of their gross earned revenue.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor