MD-SERI: Entertainment Venues


The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is administering funding for the Governor’s Maryland Strong Economic Recovery Initiative (MD-SERI).

DHCD’s MD-SERI ENTERTAINMENT VENUES will be for the state’s nonprofit AND for-profit live music and performance venues, live entertainment promoters and independently-owned local movie theaters whose primary mission and work substantially contributes to the economic development and now economic recovery of Maryland communities through employment, visitor driven events, programs and performances. This pertains only to the funding allocation for MD-SERI Entertainment Venues and provides a preview of the application which is projected to be available online Thursday, November 12, 2020

Separate NOFAs for Tourism Nonprofits and Main Street are also available from DHCD:

Applicant Eligibility Criteria:

An applicant must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must be an IRS determined nonprofit organization/venue OR a for-profit venue OR independently-owned movie theater or entertainment venue OR live entertainment promoter. 
  • Organizations/venues that are in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) 
  • Organizations/venues must be based in Maryland and attract attendees/participants and thus contribute substantially to the health of the local and state economy. 
  • Live performance promoters, may be based outside of Maryland, but application information should only be for activities related to Maryland venues.
  • Organizations/venues that can demonstrate the negative financial impact of COVID-19 of at least $75,000 as represented by (a) reduced operating revenue from attendee/participant driven activities (for example admissions; special event/programming ticket sales; gift shop sales; café/concession sales and/or private event rentals) and/or (b) increased expenses to adapt operations and facilities to create a safe environment for attendees and staff. 
  • Financially viable nonprofits whose operations will continue forward

Restaurants are NOT eligible to apply unless they have a separate subsidiary business entity that meets one or more of the criteria below:

  • Primary purpose is to offer live music or performances 
  • Significant percentage of revenue is based on ticket sales 
  • Is an independently-owned movie theater, not part of a national or regional chain

Use of Funds:

MD-SERI: Entertainment Venues funds can be used for one or more of the following:

  • Operating support (staff salaries, hazard pay, marketing/programming, rent, utilities, payroll, supplies, cleaning services etc.) to address the revenue reductions due to loss of attendance from COVID-19 and the related state-of-emergency AND/OR
  • Increased expenses to adapt operations and facilities to create a safe environment for staff and attendees

Funding Criteria:

The maximum grant request amount is $500,000 and the minimum amount is $75,000.

Requested funding amounts should be based on the applicant’s ability to:

  1. Document an equal to or greater than loss of revenue from reduced attendance due to the pandemic and related state-of-emergency and how this revenue loss relates to sustaining your fixed expenses AND/OR
  2. Document increased expenses to adapt operations and facilities to safely reopen for attendees and staff due to the pandemic and related state-of-emergency.
  3. Document that the above extra expenses and reduced revenues are in excess of other COVID relief funding received.

An applicant must also meet all of the following criteria:

  • Only applications that are fully complete at submission will be considered for funding
  • Net revenue losses and/or increased net expenses to be reimbursed must occur or have occurred during the period March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021 and must be in excess/net of other COVID 19 relief funding received
  • Requests for operating support and/or projected increase in expenses to adapt facilities must occur or have occurred during the period March 1, 2020 through April 30.
  • Applicants must be able to quantify the reduction in number of attendees/participants to events or programs through attendance and associated revenues (including comparison to prior year levels). 
  • Funding requests will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis. 
  • Individual grant amounts may be reduced relative to requests, if demand exceeds available funding.

Application Process:

  • NOFA release: Wednesday, October 28
  • Projected on-line NORI application portal opens: Thursday, November 12, 2020
  • Application portal closes: Friday, November 20 at 5:00 pm at the latest; the portal may close if or when grant requests exceed available funding
  • Funding announcements on a rolling basis beginning no later than November 30, 2020.

Applicants will be required to register with the Maryland OneStop Portal​. OneStop is the central hub for Maryland State licenses, forms, certificates, permits, applications, and registrations.

It is recommended that applicants register in advance of the application round opening.

Application Requirements:

In addition to basic organizational information, such as the venues’ official mission statement/primary purpose, the following information and attachments will be required in the on-line application in order for an application to be considered complete. Space to answer will be very limited; it is recommended that applicants prepare answers and gather required attachments in advance of the opening of the on-line application.

  1. Organizational Summary: A brief description of the organization’s (a) recent accomplishments in the last year and plan for operations in CY21, (b) specific numbers that describe information about the applicant’s attendee/event volume and economic impact on the local and state economy in a “normal” year vs. calendar 2020 and (c) current financial condition and ability to continue operations. This funding is aimed to support organizations that can continue to operate and produce economic impact in Maryland. 
  2. COVID Impacts: A brief summary of (a) the overall attendee driven revenue, providing specific dollar amounts, lost due to COVID 19 for the period March 1, 2020 through ​April 30, 2021 as compared to a similar period in 2019; in other words, the specific dollar impact of that loss to the organization’s operations and annual budget, (b) the specific dollar impact of any increased expenses due to COVID 19, if any, with respect to retrofitting operations and facilities for the safety of attendees/participants and staff, (c) how the organization would utilize any MD-SERI awarded funds to sustain operations and/or adjust operations to be able to safely attract attendees/participants and provide performances and experiences that address COVID prevention moving forward and (d) any COVID19 relief funding you have been awarded to date – include the name of program, the amount of the award and the date received. Based on this relief funding, be specific as to remaining dollar amount of the funding gap you have for the period March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021.
  3. Budget/Use of Funds: A simple budget form will be provided in the on-line application in which the applicant will individually list each proposed use(s) of requested funds.

Application Attachments:

All of the following attachments will be required in the on-line application in order for the application to be considered complete:

  • Proof of revenue lost from attendees/participants. This can be provided by summary attendee information from 2019 performances/activities/programs/rentals as compared to the same performances/activities/programs/rentals that would have taken place or will take place in the period March 1, 2020 through ​April 30, 2021  
  • IRS Determination Letter of nonprofit status, if applicable 
  • Online verification of Certificate of Good Standing from the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation. 
  • 2019 Profit and Loss Statement that itemizes revenue and expenses 
  • 2020 Profit and Loss Statement that itemizes both actual and projected revenue and expenses 
  • IRS W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification
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