by Jon Styf


Tennessee businesses were granted more than $370 million in federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant in a program that closed last month.

The grants attempted to provide funding for entertainment venues, theaters, museums, aquariums, talent representatives and similar businesses that were forced to shut down — partially or completely — during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number increased from $310 million that had been sent to Tennessee businesses as of October, including nearly $46 million sent to businesses under the Malco Theatre umbrella at the same address in Memphis.

Malco Ventures, Malco Theatres, Malco State Road and Malco Magnolia Cinemas all received $10 million apiece while Malco Management Company received a $5.8 million grant.

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville and Great Choice Investments in Pigeon Forge were the other two businesses that received the maximum $10 million grant.

Others who received more than $5 million in grants were: Nashville’s Outback Presents ($9.6 million), Nashville’s Starstruck Management Group ($9.5 million), Memphis’ Orpheum Theatre Group ($9 million), Chattanooga’s Tivoli Theatre Foundation ($8.6 million) and Tennessee Aquarium ($8 million), Nashville’s Country Music Foundation ($8 million), Memphis’ Beale Street Blues Company ($8 million), Madison’s Country Thunder Holdings ($8 million), the Nashville Symphony Association ($7.9 million), Nashville Zoo ($7.1 million), Nashville’s CS Entertainment ($6.6 million), Memphis in May International Festival ($5.8 million), Knoxville’s Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation ($5.7 million) and Nashville’s Sandbox Entertainment Group ($5.1 million).

In total, $14.57 billion were granted to businesses nationally with 17,637 applications submitted and 13,011 approved for $11.3 billion in the first phases and 9,800 awarded for $3.27 billion in the supplemental phase.

In all, 313 Tennessee businesses were awarded funds in the initial phase and 207 in the supplemental phase.

California ($2.4 billion), New York ($2.1 billion) and Texas ($1.2 billion) received the largest sum of the funds, distributed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and capped at $10 million per business.

The largest Tennessee grant in 2022 went to Nashville-based Downtown Band LLC, a talent representative, which received $888,000.

Nationally, the first phase of grants went to: 4,824 live music operators; 3,396 live performing arts operators; 1,404 talent representatives; 1,621 motion picture operators; 815 museum operators; and 951 theatrical producers.

The second phase of grants went to: 3,698 live music operators; 2,667 live performing arts operators; 1,069 talent representatives; 1,235 motion picture operators; 339 museum operators; and 792 theatrical producers.

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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter with The Center Square who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.
Photo “Tivoli Theatre” by Andrew Jameson. CC BY-SA 3.0.