The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) has awarded nearly $1 million in COVID-19 relief funding, which will provide some much needed assistance to numerous art and culture organizations throughout the state. 

The organization has also distributed $321,200 of grant funding to Rhode Island artists who have lost income due to the pandemic. This sum, provided through the Rhode Island Artist Relief Fund, was dispersed among 390 local artists. 

According to RISCA Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum, the organization is immensely proud to “provide this essential support to artists and nonprofit arts organizations, here in Rhode Island.”

“These are difficult times for everyone in the arts sector,” Rosenbaum said. “The pandemic has closed concert halls, theatres and museums, and put working artists out of work. The ability to pay salaries and help artists pay rent and put food on the table is critical to the lives and livelihoods of these Rhode Islanders, and I’m happy that we are in a position to help.”

For arts and culture organizations, and arts education associations, the funds are being dispersed directly through RISCA with the intent of saving jobs, helping to cover revenue losses and additional COVID-19 costs incurred since March.

Among the dozens of organizations to receive relief funds were a handful of notable southern Rhode Island institutions – including the Wickford Art Association.

According to Gallery Director Catherine Gagnon, the Wickford Art Association intends to use the $6,000 in relief funding to purchase and install air purifying equipment, as well as other necessary physical upgrades. The organization will also be adapting its gallery, classroom, and office space to meet new safety standards due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are thrilled to be working with a local HVAC company which is helping us to make our facility as safe as possible for our membership, visitors, staff and volunteers,” Gagnon said.

The South County Art Association, located in South Kingstown, also received $6,000 in relief funding. Executive Director Kathleen Carland said the organization is thrilled to have received this aid. 

“These funds go a long way toward helping us afford costs incurred from the pandemic like paying our dedicated staff and purchasing disinfectants, sanitizers and the air purifiers that we have added to all of our spaces,” Carland said. 

While the pandemic has prevented art classes from happening face-to-face, in the meantime, Carland said the organization has gotten creative with it’s spring course offerings and moved everything online – at least till April. Courses beginning in January, including a clay class, come complete with art kits people can pick up ahead of time, she said. 

The Contemporary Theater, located nearby in downtown Wakefield, also received relief funding from RISCA, to the tune of $1,032.

“This grant will help pay our amazing artists who have worked so hard throughout this pandemic from outdoor shows and Christmas caroling to virtual productions this winter,” according to General Manager Maggie Cady.

Three East Greenwich organizations – the Greenwich Odeum, Music on the Hill and Dance Alliance of Rhode Island – each received $6,000 in relief funding. 

Rhode Island Youth Theatre in Saunderstown also revised $6,000 in grant funding. 

Of the dozens of grants that were awarded, the majority went to non-profit organizations in Providence, including the Providence Children’s Museum and the Trinity Repertory Company – which is currently streaming “A Christmas Carol” with the request of a donation. 

The list of recipients in Providence alone, amounts to more than 30 organizations. 

A handful of organizations in Newport, including newportFILM, also received relief funds. 

Any other year, the Newport Film and Jazz Festivals have drawn millions of tourism dollars to the Ocean State.  

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