Carper, Delaware Theaters Celebrate Pandemic Relief Program Keeping Stages Alive

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) today joined representatives from Delaware’s live music venues and theaters at the Grand Opera House to celebrate a federal relief program that have helped them survive the pandemic. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program—born from the Save our Stages Act, which Senator Carper cosponsored—is administered by the Small Business Administration and has awarded 33 grants to Delaware organizations.


“As we were working on pandemic relief programs, we wanted to make sure we were meeting the needs of small businesses so they could weather this storm,” said Senator Carper. “Our live music, theater, and cultural institutions have been among those businesses that felt the economic hit the hardest. This grant program is helping to keep the lights on at so many of our Delaware venues, providing entertainment, education, and gathering places for our community.”

The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) was created by the December 2020 appropriations/COVID relief package, which appropriated $15 billion to the program. The SVOG program then received another $1.25 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act, which became law on March 11, 2021, bringing total funding for the program to $16.25 billion.


Senator Carper was joined today by Mark Fields, executive director of the Grand Opera House, and Ron Ozer, director of the Arden Concert Gild, as well as John Fleming, district director of the Small Business Administration.


“I can say without hesitation that our Shuttered Venue Operators Grant has allowed us to re-open with confidence that we can stay open,” said Fields. “The money itself is critically important, but so is the endorsement from the federal government that the arts are important to our economy and quality of life and therefore worthy of support. That endorsement will make it easier to raise the rest of the funds we need to return to full health. We look forward to getting back to the work that we love and that serves our community.”


“Coming from our little Arden Gild Hall to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) early in the pandemic was eye opening,” said Ozer, also the regional NIVA representative. “Hearing stories of venues in peril dealing with ongoing expenses without income was very different than our low expenses volunteer driven barn. As a music lover I felt pulled to advocate for these live venues around the country and in Delaware, many that I’ve visited over a lifetime of concert going. Our success in passing SVOG has shown a collective spirit in an industry not known for working together. In Arden we have planned our reopening thanks to this much needed financial underpinning in a still fraught time. We thank Senator Carper for his support of endangered small businesses!”


“Across the nation and here in Delaware, SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant funding is not only a lifeline for performance venues and the like, but a valuable economic support to their communities, as well,” said SBA Delaware Director John Fleming. “So often, these theaters are the soul of their neighborhoods; they provide unique character to our Main Streets and generate an influx of customers to shops, restaurants, and small businesses along our commercial corridors. SBA is proud to support that ecosystem’s recovery and success through the SVOG Program.”


The SVOG program provides grants to eligible organizations that have suffered revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Business types eligible for SVOGs include live venue operators, promoters, arts organizations, talent representatives, motion picture theater operators, museums, and theatrical producers. Successful applicants can receive grants equal to 45 percent of their gross earned revenue, up to a maximum of $10 million. The deadline to apply for funding is today, August 20, at 11:49 pm ET.