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Suozzi: “Help is Here! LI Theaters and Live Entertainment Venues Dramatically Helped by the American Rescue Plan"

Written by Chris Boyle  |  08. April 2021

Congressman Tom Suozzi (D – Long Island, Queens) recently held a press event at The Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington and was joined by representatives from the Paramount in Huntington, the John Engeman Theater, My Father’s Place, and The Landmark on Main Street to outline and highlight how the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) program, which was recently expanded by the American Rescue Plan, will help deliver crucial relief to live independent entertainment venues. 
 
“The effects of this pandemic have been cruelly uneven with one of the hardest-hit sectors being live entertainment venues, performing arts organizations, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions,” said Suozzi. “The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which was expanded by The American Rescue Plan, will deliver a desperately-needed lifeline that will breathe life once again into our local entertainment industry.”
 
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant is a $16 billion program that aims to help shuttered venue operators impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (passed in December), and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program will be administered by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance. 
 
At least $2 billion is set aside for small venue operators that have fewer than 50 employees. The grant amounts will vary, depending on when a business began operations, but operators will likely receive up to 45% of their pre-pandemic gross received revenue, or $10 million, whichever is less. 
 
At Wednesday’s press event, Suozzi was joined and supported by owners and directors of some of Long Island’s premiere live entertainment venues, all of which are located in his Congressional District: Laura Mogul, Executive Director of Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington, Jim Condron, Stephen Ubertini, two of the four owners of The Paramount in Huntington; Kevin O’Neill, owner of the John Engeman Theater in Northport; and Michael “Eppy” Epstein, owner of My Father’s Place in Roslyn.  
 
“We at Landmark so appreciate Congressman Suozzi's work on behalf of Long Island's performance venues.  Live performance venues are economic multipliers, community anchors, and critical threads in the cultural fabric of New York state.   Without the live performance ecosystem, bars, restaurants, hotels, retail shops, parking facilities, and other businesses that depend on our venues to attract audiences will continue to struggle to survive,” said Laura Mogul, Landmark on Main Street
 
“Thank you Congressman Suozzi for helping all of our stages get opened soon. It won't happen without you,” said Michael “Eppy” Epstein, My Father’s Place.
 
“The John W Engeman Theater and the entire live venue industry owes a great debt of gratitude to our Congressman Tom Suozzi for keeping the Save Our Stages Act in front of his fellow lawmakers.  His persistence on our behalf made it possible for us to tread water and get to the other side of this pandemic,” said Kevin O’Neil, The John Engeman Theater
 
“First off, we would like to say thank you to Congressmen Suozzi and all that have worked so hard to get the SVOG through committee. This will undoubtedly be a lifeline for The Paramount, and for the arts in general,” said Stephen Ubertini and Jim Condron, The Paramount. “The more we speak to musicians and fans alike, the more we realize that there are exciting things brewing. That people are yearning for live entertainment and we truly feel at the other end of this pandemic we will witness a MUSICAL RENAISSANCE like none other. We will do everything we can to cultivate and support this movement.”
 
The application process, which allows venue operators to apply for loans through the program even if they have previously received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, begins on April 8, 2021. Applications will be taken on a rolling basis, with no deadline, and priority will be given to businesses that report the greatest loss. Business owners should visit https://www.svograntportal.sba.gov/s/  for more information and to review application materials. 
 
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Suozzi has been one of the biggest advocates of providing relief to live-venues, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Last summer, Suozzi and local restaurants and live-entertainment venues across Long Island rallied together to call for any future COVID-19 relief package to include direct, targeted relief for the entertainment and restaurant industry. These efforts were ultimately heard by Congressional leadership.
 
On Long Island, according to a study by Suffolk and Nassau County on the economic impacts of COVID-19, the hospitality industry lost 82,000 jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationally, 90 percent of venue owners, promoters, and bookers have reported they are at risk of closing without additional financial assistance and an estimated $9 billion in losses should ticket sales do not resume until 2021.

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