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Milwaukee-area arts groups receive $1.1 million in CARES Act, other emergency funds

The Wisconsin Arts Board announced one-time grants to 110 Wisconsin arts organizations Wednesday, providing a much-needed boost to groups whose futures are uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Arts Board distributed $466,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money from the National Endowment for the Arts. Regional arts support organization Arts Midwest contributed another $78,000.

In addition, the NEA offered a dozen grants — $50,000 each — directly to Wisconsin groups, for a total $1,114,000.

Five Milwaukee-area organizations won a $50,000 grant: Lynden Sculpture Garden, The Greater Milwaukee Committee, Ko-Thi Dance Company, Latino Arts Inc. and Milwaukee Film Inc.

NEA chairman Mary Anne Carter said in a news release that she is "keenly aware that arts organizations across the country are hurting, struggling, and trying to survive."

Carter said the grants will fund staff salaries, payments to artists and facilities costs, though they can't meet all the groups' needs. (The NEA received applications requesting $157 million in assistance, but only $45 million was available.)

An ongoing Americans for the Arts survey of arts nonprofits underscores the severity of these financial pressures. Wisconsin respondents have reported losses of almost $35 million due to the coronavirus, excluding impacts on individual artists and gig economy workers. Only 60% said they are confident their organization will survive the pandemic.


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