LOVES PARK, Ill. – Phantom Regiment is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $132,000 grant from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.

Jennifer Duenke Headshot

The organization became eligible for this grant after the major events it produces – Show of Shows in Rockford, Ill.; Tour of Champions and Red and Black Fall Classic in DeKalb, Ill.; and Drums Across the Tri- State in Charleston, W.Va. – were forced to cancel in 2020. The hardships brought on by these cancellations would have inflicted long-lasting financial challenges on the organization had the SVOG and other rescue programs not been enacted.

“This is easily the largest grant ever received by the Phantom Regiment organization,” said Greg Newell, secretary of the board of directors. “The process to even apply for a grant such as this is extensive and time-consuming. We’re so fortunate to have board member Jennifer Duenke and her experience to spearhead these efforts.”

Duenke, who also helped coordinate Phantom Regiment’s successful Payroll Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications in 2020-21, was elected to the board in January 2019 after working on the development committee. Now, in addition to her grant-writing efforts, she leads the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and is a member of the governance committee.

“The awarding of this grant is a game-changer for Phantom Regiment,” said Kelly Couvelaire, treasurer for the organization. “After cutting our expenses to the bone and having to refund member tuition
and event ticketing revenues during COVID, these funds will give us the ability to prepare on more solid footing for a very successful 2022 season. We are so grateful for Jenn’s expertise in this area.”

Navigating these government programs doesn’t come without plenty of effort from many people. Phantom Regiment Academy director Stan Mauldin was a key player in the organization’s successful PPP and EIDL applications, and Duenke notes that the SVOG wouldn’t have been possible without corps director David Warren’s help compiling finance reports and venue data.

The past 16-plus months have been challenging for Phantom Regiment and all drum corps organizations but receiving these funds at the same time we’re seeing the drum corps back in action after a cancelled season has provided a tremendous boost of energy and optimism for the next year and beyond.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes more than $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Last month, it awarded Drum Corps International $4.7 million. The funds can be used in myriad ways, including payroll, rent, utilities, and other necessary business expenses.