Music presenters, theater producers, museum operators and others whose attendance has been devastated by the pandemic were able to apply as of Thursday for relief through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program administered by the federal Small Business Administration.

Grant applications are available through a new SBA web portal.

The program includes more than $16 billion in grants for shuttered venues, part of the recently passed American Rescue Plan. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, described the program as “another pivotal step toward crushing this virus, getting people back in jobs and revitalizing our economy. These grants will help put paychecks back in workers’ pockets, avoid permanent closures, cover rent payments and eventually restore the much-needed sense of vibrant community these venues have always provided.”

The program is open to live venue operators or promoters; theater producers; performing arts organizations and presenters; some museums, zoos and aquariums; movie theaters; and talent representatives. Grants can be used for payroll, rent and utility payments, worker protection expenditures, and other costs.

Maine concert halls and performing arts organizations are slowly returning to work, and many expect to operate in some capacity this summer or fall.

“Live venues like our concert halls, museums, theaters and movie theaters have been hit especially hard by this pandemic. They closed down to keep their communities safe, and many still haven’t been able to fully reopen,” Pingree said in the news release.

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