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Monday, March 8, 2021

State doles out COVID-19 relief money to hospitality, arts groups

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Arts organizations and local businesses have bene granted additional COVID-19 relief funding by the state of Delaware before a second stimulus package has been officially passed. 

Gov. John Carney on Monday afternoon announced additional relief to small businesses in the state of Delaware. 

All COVID-19 relief grant recipients are to receive a 20% bonus. 

All hospitality businesses will receive a total 50% bonus. 

While there have been multiple rounds of coronavirus relief funding, this is the first time that all grant recipients have been funded at the same time. In the past, only industries that were seriously in danger had been funded. 

 

Additional funds of $10 million have been allocated for arts organizations throughout the state. Half of the $10 million is provided by the state of Delaware while the other half is provided in matching contributions.

Funding for non-profit arts organizations will cover  35% of the organizations operating expenses for the 2019 business year, up to $300,000.

The Grand, in Wilmington, is likely to receive the full amount of $300,000. 

“35% of the operating cost would be around $2 million,” said Mark Fields, spokesperson for The Grand. 

While the amount seems to be just a drop in the bucket for the nonprofit organization, Fields still seemed deeply appreciative that The Grand was getting anything at all. 

 

“I am very grateful for the support and recognition from the state that the arts are a big contributor to Delaware’s economy,” Fields said. “We want to get The Grand back to a place where it is contributing $10 million to the economy.” 

Fields said researched showed the arts sector of Delaware brings about around $150 million in business a year, $100 million of which is in Wilmington. Fields said The Grand contributes at least $10 million a year to the economy. 

But in order to get back to that and where the nonprofit was at the state of 2020, Fields anticipated that the organization needs an additional $5 million in funding. 

Since the pandemic, The Grand has put on multiple outdoor concerts and drive-in movies, and now is sponsoring an outdoor holiday light show.

 

“The real benefit of the programs we’ve been doing have been for the community,” Fields said. “For us they’ve been break-even propositions at best.” 

While The Grand, as well as the rest of the art community, wait for the second round of federal stimulus funding, Fields was happy to see that the federal government cares about the arts as much as the state does. 

“At the same time as they’ve announced this really important government investment in arts, they’ve also announced that the new COVID stimulus includes $15 billion for live venues,’ Fields said. “To me this is a recognition that at both the state and federal level, there’s a recognition that live performance is an important part of the picture.”

Carney thanked Delaware’s philanthropic community, including Tatiana and Gerret Copeland and the Longwood Foundation, for helping to match the money going to arts groups.

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