Hickenlooper's $16B program helps closed Colorado venues — The Know

More financial help is on the way for shuttered music venues reeling from a lack of income, Sen. John Hickenlooper says.

Hickenlooper, appearing at south Denver’s Levitt Pavilion on Tuesday, announced the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program, which was expanded by the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package that was signed into law on March 11.

“While many businesses have struggled to adapt during the pandemic, live venues have been shuttered for the last year,” Hickenlooper said in a press statement from the event. “A stunning 90% say they’ll be forced to close permanently without federal help. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant helps prevent that awful result, and I encourage every Colorado venue to apply.”

The program will provide venues with money equal to 45% of pre-pandemic revenue or up to $10 million, according to Hickenlooper. Applications are open to not only live music venues, but theatrical producers, movie exhibitors, talent reps and “relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria.”

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Notably, venues or promoters who received a PPP loan on or after Dec. 27, 2020, will have their Shuttered Venue program grant reduced by the PPP loan amount. The overall program has about $16 billion to offer, and applications opened at 10 a.m. on Thursday at sba.gov.

The people that were chosen to flank Hickenlooper at Tuesday’s announcement spoke volumes about his aims. Instead of officials from corporate, global promoters such as Live Nation or AEG Presents, Hickenlooper invited Chris Zacher, Levitt Pavilion CEO and chairman of the Colorado Independent Venue Association; Andy Bercaw, owner of the historic Oriental Theater; Denver blues singer Erica Brown; Joseph Pope (of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats); Chris Tetzeli (7S Management); and Karen Cuda Exley, an artist and production manager.

The only person with ties to larger-scale operations was David Weingarden of Z2 Entertainment, which operates the Boulder, Box and Aggie Theatres in Boulder and Fort Collins, respectively.

Venues owned by Live Nation or AEG Presents are not eligible for funding, although the latter promoter, for example, rents many of its marquee, metro-area venues such as the Bluebird, Ogden and Gothic theaters.

While all tiers of the music industry have suffered during the COVID-19 shutdown, independent and nonprofit venues have suffered the most — with 90% of them at the risk of closing permanently, Hickenlooper’s office said. That tracks with studies commissioned by Denver Arts & Venues, which owns and operates venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the still-shuttered Colorado Convention Center.

The web portal for the application process crashed after it was initially launched Thursday, The New York Times reported, and no applications got through. As of press time, the application page at svograntportal.sba.gov/s appeared to be working.

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