From the Guthrie Theater to the manager of the Lamont Cranston Band, Minnesota arts and entertainment presenters have received $173 million from the federal government's much-delayed Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) program.
SVOG has allocated $16 billion in grants to U.S. movie theaters, concert venues, museums, zoos, promoters and organizations that were inactive during the pandemic.
As of Monday, 215 grants had been issued for Minnesota, ranging from the maximum $10 million to Cinema Entertainment Corp., a Waite Park-based movie theater chain with more than 150 screens in four Midwest states, to $2,348 to the Wildwood Theatre in south Minneapolis, which focuses on mental health.
"Everyone is very grateful," said Tamara Kangas Erickson, vice president of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, which received $7.574 million, the sixth largest award to a Minnesota organization. "We sent a personal letter to [Sen.] Amy Klobuchar to thank her."
Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, were the principal sponsors of last year's Save Our Stages Act, which evolved into SVOG, passed as part of the COVID relief package in January.
Like many things during the pandemic, SVOG endured misinformation, delays and website crashes. When no money had been disbursed by mid-June, Klobuchar and other senators sent a letter to the leader of the Small Business Administration, urging the agency to speed up the process. Still, money didn't start reaching applicants until July.
"It was grueling," said Paula Wegler, Chanhassen's longtime director of finances. "It became kind of a roller coaster. They'd say, 'This is going to happen and we're going to finish this by the end of this weekend. And this is going to happen by Monday.' And then it wouldn't happen. You kind of assume a government agency, they know what they're doing and they're going to be reasonably close to their dates."
During the pandemic, revenue at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres plummeted 94%; they sold takeout meals and presented a handful of music and comedy events but no theater until "The Music Man" returned to its main stage July 2.
SVOG's formula awarded up to 45% of an organization's 2019 revenue, Wegler said. Chanhassen plans to use the money for operating expenses for the rest of 2021. "We've put off a lot, like fixing a leaky roof," said Wegler.
As of Tuesday, other grants to Minnesota organizations were $9.855 million to the Armory in Minneapolis; $9.489 million to Hennepin Theatre Trust and $6.602 million to the Historic Theatre Group, which manages the trust's theaters; $9.281 million to United Entertainment movie theaters; $8.832 million to Mid-America Festivals (the Renaissance Fair); $7.195 million to the Minnesota Zoo; $7.075 million to the Guthrie Theater; $5.073 million to the Ordway; $4.965 million to the Minnesota Orchestra; $3.003 million to Children's Theatre Company, and $992,042 to Walker Art Center.
The Dakota nightclub in Minneapolis received $2.515 million, while First Avenue landed $1.011 million, plus $799,135 for the Turf Club and $2.339 million for the city-owned Palace Theatre in St. Paul, which First Ave co-manages.
Other music promoters and organizations collecting grants included the Twin Cities Summer Jam festival ($1.989 million); Sue McLean & Associates ($1.089 million); Crooners Lounge and Supper Club ($725,548); Icehouse ($637,357); Flip Phone ($503,800), and the Cedar Cultural Center ($412,400).
Among the music entities deemed grant-worthy were pianist/promoter Lorie Line ($432,748), Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus ($61,201) and Richard (Rico) Anderson, Lamont Cranston's manager/promoter ($14,965).
Other recipients included the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents — $1.805 million for performing arts presentations and $1.030 million for an on-campus museum — and the American Legion in Richfield ($416,700), Twin City Model Railroad Museum ($110,322) and the Champlin-based Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America ($6,772).
About 93% of all approved SVOG applicants have received their funds, according to an SBA website.
The Hook & Ladder Theatre, a live music venue next to the burned-out Minneapolis Police Third Precinct station, is among the applicants still waiting for approval.
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719