New SBA loan targeting venue operators will help venues like the Rialto Theatre get ready to re-open

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 10:20 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Help is on the way for venues like movie theatres, live venues, and museums.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is launching a splash page for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal today in anticipation of opening applications for the much-anticipated critical economic relief program on Thursday, April 8, 2021.

“Help is here for venue operators hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA has worked diligently to build the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program from the ground up to assist and address the diverse eligibility requirements of each type of applicant and we will open for applications on April 8,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. “The SBA knows these venues are critical to America’s economy and understands how hard they’ve been impacted, as they were among the first to shutter. This vital economic aid will provide a much-needed lifeline for live venues, museums, movie theatres and many more.”

The Rialto Theatre in Downtown Tucson has been closed since March 12th, 2020 and has not re-opened since. Michael McGrath with the Board of Directors said they had to layoff their 100 employees and that they lost 85% of their revenue compared to 2019.

They have already started their application for the SVOG and plan to file the first day.

The SVOG program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, which appropriated $15 billion for it. The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, appropriated an additional $1.25 billion, bringing the program funding to a total of $16.25 billion, with more than $16 billion allocated for grants.

McGrath said the money will not only go to much needed upkeep, but to get their 100 laid off employees back.

“I think people, the physical structure, and promoting and providing bookings for the artists to come to town will be what we’re using the funds for,” said McGrath.

McGrath said despite their lengthy closures, they’re not worried about paying off their debts. He’s confident that once their doors open back up, business will be booming.

“When the music starts again the rialto is likely to be very busy,” said McGrath. “We’re ready to bring back some live music and some fun to Tucson.”

The Rialto is starting a soft re-opening with their gallery project opening on April 2nd. They will be bringing in small groups showcasing photographs from past live events. It’ll be open Fridays and Saturdays.

As the SBA builds and prepares to open the program, the dedicated SBA website,, which includes frequently asked questions, video tutorials and other SVOG details, is the best source for information for those looking to apply for a grant. To prepare in advance of the SVOG application portal opening on April 8, potential applicants should get registered in the federal government’s System for Award Management (, as this is required for an entity to receive an SVOG, and reference the preliminary application checklist and eligibility requirements.

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