New Grant Program Aids New Jersey Performance Venues Impacted by COVID-19

New Grant Program Aids New Jersey Performance Venues Impacted by COVID-19

Performance venues have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, with many just now reopening after being shuttered for more than a year. To help businesses recover, New Jersey is launching the Community Stage Relief Grant Program...

Performance venues have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, with many just now reopening after being shuttered for more than a year. To help businesses recover, New Jersey is launching the Community Stage Relief Grant Program, a $17.5 million program that will provide grants of up to $300,000 to eligible for-profit establishments that host at least two regularly occurring live performances or events per week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit performing arts businesses particularly hard, and now that we are able to begin safely reopening it is critical that we help them get back on their feet,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said in a press statement. “The New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program, along with the New Jersey Council on the Arts program for nonprofit establishments, will provide much-needed funding to help performing arts venues recover from the impact of COVID-19 and get back to hosting the shows that help make New Jersey such a vibrant, exciting place to live.”  

New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program

In order to be eligible for the program, establishments must meet several eligibility criteria, including having a venue capacity of 2,500 or less. Eligible establishments will receive grants of up to 30% of their decline in operating revenue from 2019 to 2020, up to a maximum grant award of $300,000.

The New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program is only open to for-profit establishments with arts-focused NAICS Codes or businesses that make 50 percent or more of their operating revenue from the organization, hosting, promotion, production, or management of live music or performances.

Establishments that meet one of the two baseline eligibility criteria outlined above must also meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • 25% or Greater Operating Loss Between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020: Applicants will be required to report operating revenue specific to the applying arts and culture establishment on a quarterly basis over calendar years 2019 and 2020. Applicants whose self-reported operating revenue numbers demonstrate a 25 percent or greater loss will be asked to provide 2019 and 2020 business income tax filings specific to the applying establishment. Applicants that do not have 2019 and 2020 business income tax filings specific to the establishment for which the applicant is seeking grant funds will be asked to provide quarterly income and expense statements for all quarters of 2019 and 2020 with a breakdown substantiating the operating revenue numbers specific to the arts and culture establishment. Examples of documentation that would fulfill this requirement include management prepared financial reports, financial reports generated by an accounting system or software package, or financial reports prepared by a third-party (CPA, accountant, or bookkeeper). The self-reported revenue statements must be certified by an owner, officer, or an authorized representative of the organization. 
  • At Least Two Live Performances Per Week: Applicants will need to provide documentation demonstrating the establishment has organized, promoted, produced, managed, or hosted at least two live performances or events per week across any three-month (quarterly) period beginning no later than January 1, 2019, through the date of application. Examples of documentation include live event calendars, public advertisements of live events, evidence of ticket sales for live events, ledgers, income statements, box office reports and other documents showing show dates, artists or events, ticket prices, and number of tickets sold, marketing or promotional materials, or any other documentation sufficiently demonstrating  bi-weekly live events were supported over a three-month period.
  • Event Admission Fees: Applicants will need to provide documentation demonstrating the collection of admission fees for each event that is part of the three-month reporting period. Examples of documentation include reports provided by a third-party ticket seller or payment processor, copies of receipts or tickets/ticket stubs sold at an event, in house administrative documentation, marketing materials, and third-party media demonstrating a fee for admission was collected for live events reported during the three-month sample period.
  • Artist Payment for Events: Applicants will need to provide documentation evidencing mutual agreements between four different artists or their representatives and the applying establishment or host venue that clearly demonstrates the performing artist was paid based on a percentage of sales, a guaranteed payment, a contract or other mutually beneficial formal arrangement, or the sale of tickets for which performers are paid based on a percentage of ticket sales. Examples of documentation include a contract executed by both the performing artist and the applicant establishment/hosting venue that clearly stipulates the basis by which the performing artist is paid, or written or electronic copies of agreements such as copies of emails, electronic messages, and dated text messages if it is clear that the compensation was mutually agreed upon and is consistent with program requirements.
  • Duplication of Benefits: All applicants will be required to fill out an affidavit identifying all funding sources the applicant entity has received related to COVID-19, including insurance, Small Business Administration loans and grants, Shuttered Venues grants, forgivable portions of Payroll Protection loans, and Economic Injury Disaster grants.

What’s Next?

Applications for the New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program are expected to open later in August. When they open, applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date and time at which the NJEDA receives the application. Only applications that are fully complete will be considered for funding.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Ron Bienstock, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.


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Ronald S. “Ron” Bienstock joined Scarinci Hollenbeck after running his successful boutique entertainment, and intellectual property law firm, Bienstock & Michael, LLC for more than 30 years.Full Biography

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New Grant Program Aids New Jersey Performance Venues Impacted by COVID-19

New Grant Program Aids New Jersey Performance Venues Impacted by COVID-19
Author: Ronald S. Bienstock

Performance venues have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, with many just now reopening after being shuttered for more than a year. To help businesses recover, New Jersey is launching the Community Stage Relief Grant Program, a $17.5 million program that will provide grants of up to $300,000 to eligible for-profit establishments that host at least two regularly occurring live performances or events per week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit performing arts businesses particularly hard, and now that we are able to begin safely reopening it is critical that we help them get back on their feet,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said in a press statement. “The New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program, along with the New Jersey Council on the Arts program for nonprofit establishments, will provide much-needed funding to help performing arts venues recover from the impact of COVID-19 and get back to hosting the shows that help make New Jersey such a vibrant, exciting place to live.”  

New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program

In order to be eligible for the program, establishments must meet several eligibility criteria, including having a venue capacity of 2,500 or less. Eligible establishments will receive grants of up to 30% of their decline in operating revenue from 2019 to 2020, up to a maximum grant award of $300,000.

The New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program is only open to for-profit establishments with arts-focused NAICS Codes or businesses that make 50 percent or more of their operating revenue from the organization, hosting, promotion, production, or management of live music or performances.

Establishments that meet one of the two baseline eligibility criteria outlined above must also meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • 25% or Greater Operating Loss Between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020: Applicants will be required to report operating revenue specific to the applying arts and culture establishment on a quarterly basis over calendar years 2019 and 2020. Applicants whose self-reported operating revenue numbers demonstrate a 25 percent or greater loss will be asked to provide 2019 and 2020 business income tax filings specific to the applying establishment. Applicants that do not have 2019 and 2020 business income tax filings specific to the establishment for which the applicant is seeking grant funds will be asked to provide quarterly income and expense statements for all quarters of 2019 and 2020 with a breakdown substantiating the operating revenue numbers specific to the arts and culture establishment. Examples of documentation that would fulfill this requirement include management prepared financial reports, financial reports generated by an accounting system or software package, or financial reports prepared by a third-party (CPA, accountant, or bookkeeper). The self-reported revenue statements must be certified by an owner, officer, or an authorized representative of the organization. 
  • At Least Two Live Performances Per Week: Applicants will need to provide documentation demonstrating the establishment has organized, promoted, produced, managed, or hosted at least two live performances or events per week across any three-month (quarterly) period beginning no later than January 1, 2019, through the date of application. Examples of documentation include live event calendars, public advertisements of live events, evidence of ticket sales for live events, ledgers, income statements, box office reports and other documents showing show dates, artists or events, ticket prices, and number of tickets sold, marketing or promotional materials, or any other documentation sufficiently demonstrating  bi-weekly live events were supported over a three-month period.
  • Event Admission Fees: Applicants will need to provide documentation demonstrating the collection of admission fees for each event that is part of the three-month reporting period. Examples of documentation include reports provided by a third-party ticket seller or payment processor, copies of receipts or tickets/ticket stubs sold at an event, in house administrative documentation, marketing materials, and third-party media demonstrating a fee for admission was collected for live events reported during the three-month sample period.
  • Artist Payment for Events: Applicants will need to provide documentation evidencing mutual agreements between four different artists or their representatives and the applying establishment or host venue that clearly demonstrates the performing artist was paid based on a percentage of sales, a guaranteed payment, a contract or other mutually beneficial formal arrangement, or the sale of tickets for which performers are paid based on a percentage of ticket sales. Examples of documentation include a contract executed by both the performing artist and the applicant establishment/hosting venue that clearly stipulates the basis by which the performing artist is paid, or written or electronic copies of agreements such as copies of emails, electronic messages, and dated text messages if it is clear that the compensation was mutually agreed upon and is consistent with program requirements.
  • Duplication of Benefits: All applicants will be required to fill out an affidavit identifying all funding sources the applicant entity has received related to COVID-19, including insurance, Small Business Administration loans and grants, Shuttered Venues grants, forgivable portions of Payroll Protection loans, and Economic Injury Disaster grants.

What’s Next?

Applications for the New Jersey Community Stage Relief Grant Program are expected to open later in August. When they open, applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date and time at which the NJEDA receives the application. Only applications that are fully complete will be considered for funding.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Ron Bienstock, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.