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Connecticut Launches $9 Million Grant Program to Assist Arts Organizations Impacted by COVID-19

  • Governor Ned Lamont announces $9 million grant program to support nonprofit arts centers, groups, and schools
  • Qualifying recipients can receive between $5,000 and $750,000
  • Theaters and other arts groups have been struggling during COVID-19 pandemic as performances are canceled and reopening remains uncertain

Nonprofit arts organizations in Connecticut can apply for funds under a new grant program announced by Governor Ned Lamont on Monday. The program, funded through the federal CARES Act, seeks to help theaters, performing arts groups, and others who have taken a major financial hit this year after the COVID-19 forced the cancellation of performances.

A total of $9 million has been allocated to the COVID Relief Fund for the Arts, which is being administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development, and organizations can receive a minimum grant of $5,000. The program also offers a supplemental 50 percent match for any funds the organization raised between March 10 and Nov. 1, although total awards are capped at $750,000. Applicants must also meet a number of stipulations required under the CARES Act to receive funding.

Performing arts centers, performing groups, and arts education organizations are eligible for funding. The program’s goal is to provide support to organizations “for whom grants will make a difference in terms of survival or rehiring,” and to assist those that had to curtail their operations or pivot the delivery of their services due to pandemic restrictions.

The announcement was welcomed by Connecticut’s arts organizations, which were among the first to close during the pandemic due to restrictions on large gatherings. While performing arts venues are permitted to open at 50 percent capacity under Phase 3 of Connecticut’s reopening plan, but this option is not financially viable for many places.

Ticket sales make up a substantial share of the revenues of performing arts organizations, and this income was lost when theaters were forced to cancel or postpone their 2020 schedules. As many performing arts venues across the United States shuttered permanently, a “Save Our Stages” campaign resulted in bipartisan support for $10 billion in federal funds to support grants to live performance venues. This funding is included in the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House, though that legislation has been held up in the Senate amid competing proposals and negotiations over new COVID-19 relief.


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