LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)- Over $14 million dollars in grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been awarded to live entertainment venues and organizations in Acadiana.
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act.
The funds have been distributed to 23 different venues and organizations in Acadiana.
The Cajundome received the largest amount in grant money totaling $7,116,068. Pam Deville, the director of the Cajundome, said that their first priority is to use this funding to bring back jobs.
“We need more people to come in and help with those tasks as much as I enjoy cleaning restrooms. It's really hard to do it when you got a lot of meetings during the day,” Deville said.
The SBA grant was designed to help live entertainment venues and organizations recover from the pandemic. According to Deville, due to the COVID-19 shutdown, the Cajundome had to furlough many employees.
“We have 12 employees. We were 47 and before the pandemic, we were 65,” she said.
The Cajundome plan is to use the funds to add twelve more job positions, pay for maintenance of the building, and cover utility and insurance bills.
“We still gotta get through this year, and with a variant coming and going and people making statements about what you can and can't do in indoor venues, we can't count on the revenue that we should be making from events until this all settles down again,” she said.
The Acadiana Symphony Association was also a recipient of the grant. Due to the pandemic, the organization had to furlough employees, terminate contracts with performers, and charge less money for virtual concerts.
“When there are no concerts and there's nothing, no events, there's no income, right so that, you know, kind of really hamstrung us in the ability to function as a full, you know the organization that we had been,” Dana Baker, the executive director of the Acadiana Symphony Association, said.
The organization received $453,047 from the SBA grant.
“It doesn't mean that we still don't rely so heavily on community support, you know, not just that we do, obviously, and I can't speak for everyone but we're also going to need the community to support,” Baker said.
Grantees have up to a year to use the funds from the SBA, if all the money isn’t used, it must be sent back. The SBA is still accepting applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.