Thursday, March 25, 2021

Local arts groups awarded state economic impact grants

Local arts groups are celebrating the announcement last week of grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

In Westland, Inspire Theatre was awarded $39,009 while the Michigan Philharmonic in Plymouth was awarded $14,628 in funding to help relieve the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts groups. Tipping Point Theatre in Northville was awarded the highest amount of grant funding allowed at $40,000, according to the state.

The three venues were among 101 independent operators receiving $3.4 million from the state as part of the Michigan Stages Survival Grant Program. 

State officials said 392 applications for venue relief were received. To qualify, businesses had to demonstrate revenue thresholds based on ticket sales and could not have more than 30 employees, along with other criteria.

“These grants help entertainment venues across Michigan continue playing a critical role in creating the vibrant communities we need to thrive,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a prepared statement. “We will continue our efforts to eradicate this virus and keep rebuilding our economy for our small businesses and communities.”

Many arts programs are still waiting for the grant applications and requirements of the federal Save Our Stages Act which was approved by Congress last December as part of the $900 billion stimulus package.

Beth Stewart, president of the Michigan Philharmonic, said the grant would allow the orchestra to continue with the small performances musicians have been able to perform during the pandemic.

“This will help and, of course, we hope for concerts this summer.” Stewart said that the philharmonic has been able to survive, without work for the musicians, during the pandemic due to the support of the public.

“People have been extremely generous and have stayed with us. The fans have supported us and we couldn't be here without them,” she said.

Officials said the application period for the national funding has not yet begun.