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COVID-19 relief package offers $15 billion for struggling arts venues

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The COVID-19 relief package includes a financial lifeline for struggling arts and cultural organizations.

Tucked inside the COVID-19 relief package is a $15-billion grant program called Save Our Stages.  

It’s meant to help everything, from big cultural institutions like the San Francisco Symphony to small-time music venues stay afloat during this pandemic.

“The arts have been devastated,” Deborah Cullinan said.

The shuttered gates of nightclubs like The Chapel on Valencia Street, where you can see the lineup for last February still posted outside — One example of that the devastation.

Cullinan is co-chair of the San Francisco Arts Alliance which worked with Washington political leaders to help venues like these stay alive with the $15-billion grant program that’s part of the bipartisan COVID relief stimulus package.

“Arts are essential, the performing arts, in particular, were the first to close and they will likely be the last to open, so for us, the stimulus is about saving our stages. It’s about provided much-needed support for small arts businesses, it’s about getting unemployment for artists who were already living one paycheck away from a devastating event,” Cullinan said.

The legislation also extends unemployment for artists and will provide additional forgivable small business loans for non-profit arts and cultural organizations.  

The director of Rising Rhythm in the city’s excelsior plans to apply for an SBA loan, as the pandemic pushed her dance company to the brink.

“I reached out to my community to help me pay rent you know, imagine how that feels as an adult, as a business owner, as someone who’s trying to do good for the community, not being able to anymore and having the community help me pay my rent it’s a little hard,” Jessica Maria Recinos said.

That dancer choregrapher says this stimulus money is a move in the right direction but says more support is needed to help arts and cultural institutions repair the staggering damage done by the pandemic.

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