Ruiz Announces Nearly $19 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds Delivered to Local Theaters, Small Businesses

August 19, 2021
Press Release
Ruiz voted to bring much-needed relief to CA-36 small business through the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) announced that 28 venues and small businesses in the 36th District received nearly $19 million in American Rescue Plan funds through the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) program. After voting to establish the program in December 2020, Ruiz helped secure additional funding for this much-needed program in the American Rescue Plan and worked with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite funds after delayed distribution.

The nearly $19 million in funding received by local theaters and event venues will provide critical support to these businesses that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the community staples that will remain open to the public thanks in part to this relief program include:

  • Desert Theatreworks community theatre in Indio, which received nearly $250,000;
  • The McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, which received $3.8 million;
  • The Mary Pickford Theater in Cathedral City, which received $2.6 million;
  • The Fox Cineplex in Banning, which received over $450,000; and
  • The Palm Springs Air Museum, which received nearly $1 million.

“The pandemic caused great hardships for many performing arts and museum venues, small business owners and their employees”, said Dr. Ruiz.  “The American Rescue Plan’s expanded Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program is a lifeline for our local theatres and stages, and I am glad that the SBA heeded my calls to quickly get this aid into the pockets of our small business owners. Now, thanks to these vital funds, our economy and tourism are supported and jobs are retained for residents of the 36th District.”

"Congressman Ruiz and his team were instrumental in helping Desert Theatreworks navigate the COVID relief programs with the Small Business Administration. It was clear to me they see the value of supporting small community organizations like ours and see the value we provide to the community,” said Ron Phillips-Martinez, CEO of Desert Theatreworks.

“Because of this grant, we have been able to pay off all our back rents and past due utility bills, and some of the other deferred expenses that occurred during the shutdown,” said Damon Rubio, owner of the Mary Pickford Theater in Cathedral City and the Fox Cineplex theater in Banning. “While our industry and my small business still face many challenges in the future, the SVOG program has given us a chance to start making adjustments to our operations so that we can rise to meet the challenges and avoid ruin. I really appreciate all the support from Congressman Ruiz to make this program a reality.”

“Federal support through the SVOG program has been critical to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens as we navigate the business realities and challenges caused by COVID-19. I appreciate Congressman Ruiz’s support of this program, which will enable us to continue providing the highest level of care to our animals, hire additional staff, expand educational programming and conservation initiatives, and expand our impact as a cultural resource to the Coachella Valley and beyond,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO.

“The past year has been difficult for all performing arts organizations, and it has been particularly challenging for non-profit companies like CVRep. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program proved to be a key component in helping us to weather the storms of the pandemic restrictions,” said Ron Celona, Founding Artistic Director for Coachella Valley Repertory. “It has enabled us to retain key staff, maintain our theater and educational classrooms, provide alternative virtual programming and, perhaps most importantly, develop plans for our safe re-opening with in-person events this coming Fall. The support that CVRep received through the SVOG program not only provided financial stability during the crisis, but helped to ensure our ability to continue to serve the diverse communities of the Coachella Valley into the future.  

“The SVOG funds received by McCallum Theatre and entertainment venues across the United States came at a critical time and helped make up a portion of the revenue we lost by having to cancel all performances at the end of the 2019-20 season and the entirety of the 2020-21 season,” said Jamie Grant, President & CEO of the McCallum Theatre.  “We are grateful to the federal government for their favorable consideration of our grant application and appreciate the support of Congressman Ruiz and Senators Feinstein and Padilla.”

“The Shuttered Venues Operating Grant has been designated to assist in offsetting payroll costs, therefore allowing funds to be redirected to general operating to help Palm Springs Art Museum fulfill its mission in making art accessible to the Coachella Valley and beyond.” Said MarJon Hudson, Director, Palm Springs Art Museum.

"We are grateful that, during this devastating time for us as well as other nonprofit arts organizations with little or no earned income, federal assistance has helped us to provide remote content for our patrons, stay connected with our artists and volunteers, and supported the costs of our operations. Looking forward, the financial aid will also help us as we face the challenges of re-opening that include implementing safety measures for our patrons, staff and artists, and for additional hiring needed to cover the increased workload,” said Michael Shaw, Artistic Director for Dezart Performs. “From the bottom of our heart, we thank SBA for making it possible to continue the professional quality productions and creativity that our community expects.”



SVOG funding is crucial to the economic recovery of venue operators in the 36th District and across the country. In March 2021, Ruiz voted in support of the American Rescue Plan to secure this relief funding for small business owners.

In June, Ruiz sent a letter to the Small Business Administration on behalf of local theatre operators calling for the SBA to expedite the disbursement of SVOG funds following repeated delays in the roll-out of the program. 

In CA-36, grant awardees received the following funds:

  • Live performing arts organization operators: $800,000
  • Live venue operators and promoters: $9.6 million
  • Motion picture theater operator: $300,000
  • Museum operators: $5.7 million
  • Talent representatives: $2.2 million

A full list of SVOG awardees in the 36th District can be found here.