84 Orange County Arts and Leisure Organizations, Promoters Obtain $ 78 million in grants

84 Orange County arts and entertainment organizations, venues and promoters have received nearly $ 78 million in grants through the state’s Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOG) program, which opened in April. The results were published late last month and early this month.

The $ 16.25 billion program is run by the U.S. Small Business Administration to support independent venues, cinemas, event organizers, and nonprofit arts organizations that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic for the past year and a half.

The big winners in Orange County are: the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which will receive $ 10 million; the OC Fair, which will receive $ 4.89 million; Transparent Productions, which produces Christian music concerts and is based in Costa Mesa, Raises $ 4.49 million; the Festival of Arts at Laguna Beach, which will receive $ 4.25 million; and a Huntington Beach-based company called FKOA Presents, which is receiving $ 3.84 million. “FKOA” stands for “Fat Kid of America” ​​and, according to its website, presents concerts such as the Orange County Block Party with Ice Cube and the popular ’80s Weekends at the Microsoft Theater in Downtown LA.

Other winners include California Dinner Entertainment, which operates Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park and receives $ 3.94 million; ATEI Company Inc., an Anaheim-based company that owns and operates Voices Celebrity Singers of Rock, Pop, and R&B, which receives $ 3.1 million; Discovery Cube (formerly Discovery Science Center) in Santa Ana, which will receive $ 2.74 million; and San Juan Capistrano’s Coach House Concerts, which will receive $ 2.56 million.

Frias Entertainment Group, an event producer based in Santa Ana, will receive $ 2.54 million and Spaghettini from Seal Beach, a restaurant and live music venue, will receive $ 2.67 million.

Other notable OC arts organizations that have received grants include Laguna Playhouse ($ 1.66 million); Pacific Symphony ($ 1.63 million); Irvine Barclay Theater ($ 1.31 million); South Coast Repertory ($ 1.17 million); Sawdust arts festival ($ 947,230); Mission San Juan Capistrano ($ 714,112); the Newport Beach Film Festival ($ 422,251); the Orange County Philharmonic Society ($ 313,664); and Pacific Choral ($ 176,141). Dozens of other smaller theaters, event organizers, and arts and entertainment venues are on the list.

“I’m excited,” said Richard Stein, president and CEO of Arts Orange County, the region’s nonprofit arts council. “We vigorously campaigned for this last year.”

Stein said the past year and a half in which shows have not been able to be presented has been “a disastrous situation for art venues, and especially the performing arts.”

“They were the first to close and the last to open,” he said. “They were closed for over a year.”

Some problems with the payment of the bonuses

There were some hiccups in the SVOG program after it went into effect in March. The SBA did not open the application portal until April, and when it opened on April 8, applicants could not upload any documents to support their applications. The SBA closed the portal for repairs and did not reopen it until April 26th.

To make the injury worse, National Public Radio reported in June that a significant number of organizations and venues had received news of awards but had received no money months later.

However, in its most recent reports, the SBA says $ 8.4 billion was paid out under the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.

In Laguna Beach, the famous Festival of Arts – which closed in 2020 for the first time since World War II – has apparently received a $ 4.25 million grant.

“This grant has been a financial lifesaver and provides financial stability to meet the serious operational challenges posed by losing an entire year of revenue,” said David Perry, president of the festival’s board of directors. “We appreciate that government agencies understood the difficulties of the pandemic and are grateful that they recognized the importance of the arts and stood up for much-needed assistance.”

The county’s largest arts organization, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, received the maximum payout in the SVOG program of $ 10 million. This is a stark contrast for an organization that – 15 years ago – boasted that it was never dependent on government support and that it strictly accepted private donations.

Casey Reitz, President of the Segerstrom Center, could not be reached on Tuesday for a statement.

Stein, the president of Arts OC, reflected this apparent contradiction. “All I can say is that I don’t necessarily think this is a total change in philosophy,” he said. “These are exceptional circumstances and circumstances may dictate that private sources alone cannot get them through the crisis.”

Terry Moore, communications director for the OC Fair & Event Center, another major grant recipient, said she would work on learning details about the $ 4.89 million grant from the show.

How does California stack up?

To date, the SVOG program has awarded $ 9 billion in grants to more than 11,320 companies across the country, according to a weekly SVOG report by the Small Business Administration.

Successful applicants have proven they have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and have received grants equal to 45% of their gross sales with a maximum grant of $ 10 million.

California leads the nation with 1,630 scholarships. New York (1,297 scholarships) ousted California with a total of $ 1.372 billion. California has received $ 1.319 billion in SVOG grants.

While the SVOG program stops receiving new applications, it continues to review applications and review appeals against rejected applications as well as requests for additional funding. The window for new calling and reconsideration was closed last week.

Congress created the SVOG through the Economic Aid to Hardly Affected Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, which went into effect in late December. Another $ 1.25 billion was added to the program in March.

Richard Chang is Senior Editor, Arts and Culture at Voice of OC. He can be reached at [email protected].

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