October 21, 2021

COVID relief offers boost for cultural hubs

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

The CNY Living History Museum on Route 11 may be eligible for funding under a $15 billion federal program to financially aid museums, theaters and entertainment venues affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Central New York Living History Center had 20 events planned from the annual Brockway Truck show to weddings — all canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those cancellations and fewer visitors to the center have cost the center about $100,000 in revenue.

But Executive Director Cindy Stoker said Tuesday that when criteria becomes available on new federal coronavirus funding to help the arts and entertainment industry, she will apply for it.

“Yes, we will be applying for it under the guidance from the bank,” Stoker said.

The Save Our Stages Act will provide $15 billion nationally for independent live venues, independent movie theaters and other cultural institutions like museums — all of which have been affected by the pandemic.The act would create a small-business grant program for cultural, arts and entertainment businesses.

“To be eligible, an entity must have experienced at least 25% lost revenue due to COVID-19,” states a news release from Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office. The program would allow the use of a grant to cover rent, utilities, operating leases or personal protective equipment.

The grant would cover equal to or less than 45% of the businesses gross revenue during 2019 or $10 million.

Businesses that previously participated in the Paycheck Protection Program are still eligible to apply for this grant.

Kerby Thompson, the producing artistic director for the Cortland Repertory Theatre, said he hasn’t really looked into the program, but will apply for it if eligible. Times have been tough for the theater, Thompson said.

“We’ve had basically no income since March,” he said, noting the theater planned on $500,000 in income for 2020.