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Arts organizations get ‘vital lifeline’ through CARES Act grants

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The Delaware Division of the Arts (DDOA) has allocated $443,000 in relief grants to 55 arts and community-based organizations as well as 11 artists across the state.

The money came from the National Endowment for the Arts through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which the Division of the Arts converted into two short-term grant opportunities to help secure jobs and support nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists.

The CARES Organization Relief Grants ranged in size from $1,000 to $12,500 and were only available to organizations that had received operating support in the past three fiscal years or project support in fiscal year 2020. Funds could be used to support salaried employees, fees for artists and/or contractual personnel, as well as facility costs such as rent and utilities, incurred between March 15 and August 31.

“After having to postpone our July production of “The Tempest” until summer 2021, the Delaware Division of the Arts CARES Act grant is a vital lifeline,” said David Stradley, producing artistic director for Delaware Shakespeare, which received $10,000. “The summer production is our largest source of earned revenue with over $58,000 in ticket sales. The grant ensures that we are able to keep our small administrative staff in place, while continuing to find innovative ways to connect Delaware community members with Shakespeare. Our online Sonnet Project has so far received over 25,000 cumulative views and supported artists with supplemental income at a challenging time for freelance workers.”

Paul Weagraff, director of the Division of the Arts, said the grants were “critical to arts organizations’ and their ongoing service to the community.”

“Public funds represent only a small portion of the revenue that arts organizations generate. In addition, individual practicing and teaching artists have seen their opportunities postponed or even canceled due to the social distancing guidelines set forth by the state,” he said in a statement. “Artists’ work in communities, schools and businesses is crucial to the creative life of our communities and adds distinct value to the state’s economy.”

The Delaware Division of the Arts is an agency of the Delaware Department of State that administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life.

Grants went to the following organizations. Unless otherwise noted, the organizations are based in Wilmington or the city indicated in the organization’s name:

  • $12,500: Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Joshua M. Freeman Foundation (Selbyville), and Music School of Delaware.
  • $10,000: Art Therapy Express Program (Hockessin), Art Works for All (Dover), Associated Community Talents (Middletown), Biggs Museum of American Art (Dover), Brandywine Baroque (Greenville), Center for the Creative Arts (Yorklyn), Choir School of Delaware, Christina Cultural Arts Center, Cityfest Inc., Delaware Art Museum, Delaware Choral Society (Dover), Delaware Dance Company (Newark), Delaware Shakespeare, Delaware Theatre Company, Developing Artist Collaboration (Rehoboth Beach), First State Ballet Theatre, Grand Opera House, Inner City Cultural League (Dover), Mid-Atlantic Ballet (Newark), Mispillion Art League (Milford), OperaDelaware, Possum Point Players (Georgetown), Rehoboth Art League, Rehoboth Beach Film Society, Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, Rehoboth Summer Children’s Theatre, Smyrna Opera House, The Candlelight Theatre (Ardentown), The Delaware Contemporary, UD Resident Ensemble Players (Newark), Wilmington Drama League, Winterthur Museum Garden & Library
  • $7,500: Clear Space Theatre Company (Rehoboth Beach), Delaware ChoralArts (Greenville), Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education, Market Street Music Corp., Newark Arts Alliance
  • $5,000: Coastal Concerts Inc. (Lewes), Newark Symphony Orchestra, Pieces of A Dream, Rainbow Chorale of Delaware, UD Master Players Concert Series (Newark),
  • $2,500: Arden Club, Bootless Stageworks, CoroAllegro, Kent County Theatre Guild Foundation Inc. (Dover), Southern Delaware Chorale (Rehoboth Beach)
  • $1,000: Capital Ringers (Lewes), Children’s Theatre of Dover, Delaware Pacem in Terris, Milton Arts Guild, Rehoboth Concert Band

“We were literally days away from announcing what would have been our biggest season to date at The Freeman Stage when COVID-19 hit our nation,” said Patti Grimes, executive director of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation/The Freeman Stage and Carl M. Freeman Foundation, which received $12,500. “With the assistance of the CARES grant, we were able to pivot to a virtual presentation of arts enrichment and education for the local community and schools, while we continued to work on ways we could present the arts this year.”

“This emergency support from DDOA is critical to an organization like ours at this perilous time; said OperaDelaware General Director Brendan Cooke.  “OperaDelaware has a highly specialized staff that would be very hard to replace.  At present, there is no safe way for us to produce large scale, live opera.  Socially distanced seating may be achievable, but right now, it does not seem to be safe to rehearse large groups of singers indoors.  We’ve been able to pivot to some small-scale, outdoor “drive-through” performances, but there’s simply not enough capacity for revenue for that to be sustainable long-term.  Funds like this act as a “ventilator” for organizations that can’t quite breathe on their own yet, and we are profoundly grateful.  We will get through this, thanks in part to the [$10,000 in] support from DDOA.”

In addition, CARES Artist Relief Grants provided up to $500 to eligible Delaware artists impacted by the cancellation of a specific scheduled event, gig, or opportunity (e.g. commissions, performances, readings, contracts, teaching classes, etc.) because of COVID-19.

In addition to the CARES Act relief grants, the Division also released the final General Operating Support grant payments in mid-March (usually dispersed in September) to assist 58 arts organizations with cash flow challenges resulting from cancelled and postponed, revenue-generating programming.

By Peter Osborne


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