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State to provide COVID aid to nonprofit arts groups

Connecticut nonprofit arts groups received some much needed good news Monday.

At a press conference in New Haven, Gov. New Lamont announced the state will be providing up to $9 million in grants to certain nonprofit arts organizations to aid them in recovering from the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arts organizations eligible for funding include performing arts centers, live performance groups who operate mostly out of their own venues, and schools of the arts whose primary curriculum focuses on artistic instruction.

"Connecticut's arts community provides an incredible amount of good for our state and support thousands of jobs," Lamont said in a statement released after his remarks Monday. "The ongoing, global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so many aspects of our lives, and many of our state's nonprofit arts organizations are struggling to recover from its impact. This program will provide some support so that these groups can continue providing the services our state that so many depend on."

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development will administer the COVID Relief Fund for Arts program. Candidates for the grants include nonprofits whose use of the funds will help make a difference in terms of their survival or rehiring. Others eligible are nonprofits that have curtailed operations because the pandemic and have limited ability to reopen or operate delivery services.

The grants will be provided by federal CARES Act funding from the state's Coronavirus Relief Fund, and organizations that qualify will receive a base grant of $5,000. For organizations that have raised funds between March 10 and Nov. 1, 2020, the program offers a supplemental match of 50 percent of contributed income during that period. The maximum award for any organization is $750,000.

Southeastern Connecticut organizations welcome grants

Various arts nonprofits around the region were excited and encouraged by the opportunity to apply for the grants.

 "During this continuing public health crisis, the O'Neill is grateful for the state's recognition of the vital role Connecticut's nonprofit theaters play in the state's jobs, tourism, and arts sectors," said Eugene O'Neill Theater Center executive director Tiffani Gavin. "This much-needed support — which shines a light on the generosity of our donors with a 50% match before November 1 — is an important step toward ensuring that the O'Neill can remain a vital part of the state's cultural landscape."

Robbin Myers, director of marketing for Musical Masterworks in Old Lyme, said in an email, "This is very welcome news for the arts community in Connecticut. So many performing arts organizations have had to adjust how they remain connected with their audiences in a meaningful way. Hopefully, this funding will help many arts organizations in the state maintain their operations so they can recover once we are allowed to have in-person audiences again. I think this tremendously difficult period has reinforced how important the arts are in providing a healthy outlet to help us overcome these stressful times."

And Caleb Bailey, executive director of New London's Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, said in an email, "The newly announced funds are an excellent show of support for the performing arts sector. The ECSO is excited for the opportunity to apply for these funds which will help us continue to adapt to find ways to reach our audiences in-person, indoors, in the near future."

There is a tight window for applications, though. The Connecticut Office of the Arts will accept applications between Oct. 23 and Nov. 3, and all contracts must be executed by Dec. 30.

"This is very good news for arts organizations throughout the state," said Steve Sigel, executive director of the Garde Arts Center in New London, by phone. "It's also a challenge in that we have about 10 days to raise as much as we can to get the supplemental 50 percent matching funds contributed during that period. That's not a lot of time, but we're certainly grateful for the opportunity to appeal to our closest donors and also the general public. All of us in the arts community have a long road ahead of us, and this is an opportunity to provide benefits that help the Garde continue for the months until we can open again." 

Information on eligibility requirements and the application process are available at the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development website at

COVID cases continue to increase

Later Monday, Lamont announced that COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the state with communities in southeastern Connecticut such as East Lyme, Montville, Norwich and several others showing the greatest percentage of positive cases.

Since Friday, cases in New London County have risen by 141 to a total 3,224. Four more people have died, bringing that total to 134 and there are now 23 hospitalizations, an increase of 3.

Statewide, there were 1,191 more cases since Friday bringing that total to 64,021. Twelve more people died since Friday for a total of 4,554. Hospitalizations increased by 11 to 195 and almost 72,000 more tests were performed. More than 2 million tests have now been done in the state.             



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