Federal grant offers Rhode Island arts venues a lifeline

Local News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — State leaders gathered Friday at the Providence Performing Arts Center to discuss a federal grant designed to help entertainment venues across the country.

Rhode Island’s congressional delegation says the $26.2 million grant coming to local venues is a much-needed lifeline while they’re still trying to recover from 2020.

“Things are starting to buzz. Pretty Woman is teed up, and we can’t wait until the seats are full and the streets are busy and the restaurants are active again,” U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.

Congressman David Cicilline emphasized how much the industry was affected by the pandemic.

“The arts and culture community was really hard hit, losing almost $42 billion in sales and 1.4 million jobs. That’s half of the jobs in the industry,” he said.

While those figures are for venues nationwide, they said the local entertainment industry was devastated to the same extent.

In an effort to prevent entertainment venues from closing permanently, the delegation says the state was given the funding by Congress for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.

Fifty Rhode Island businesses have successfully applied, including:

  • Trinity Rep: $2 million
  • Newport Festivals: $3 million
  • Columbus Theatre: $200,000
  • Greenwich Odeum: $400,000
  • Comedy Connection: $1 million

Venues that were hit hardest are also eligible for a second round of awards.

The grant money is funded through the American Rescue Plan, with $9.4 billion distributed nationally to almost 12,000 venues.

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