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Howard County allocates $750,000 in CARES Act funding to support local arts

Howard County on Wednesday announced another set of relief grants from federal CARES Act funding, this time to support the local arts community.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, County Executive Calvin Ball said $750,000 had been allocated to supporting the arts and theater community within the county.

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Ball said this was an effort to “help stabilize and support this community” after the coronavirus pandemic decimated businesses.

“The arts help mitigate the sense of hopelessness and stress caused by prolonged isolation. They provide a space for solace and joy that help safeguard our well-being,” said Colleen West, executive director of the Howard County Arts Council. “In addition to improving our quality of life, a strong arts sector is an economic asset and an important part of the county’s strategy for economic recovery.”

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Of the total amount, more than $530,000 will go to Merriweather Post Pavilion, $75,000 will go to Toby’s Dinner Theatre, and $36,000 will go to the Drama Learning Center and Red Branch Theatre, all in Columbia.

Another $100,000 was allocated to the Artist Relief Fund to support individual artists and nonprofit organizations that have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

The Howard County Arts Council will administer the application and review process for the individual and nonprofit grants. Of the $100,000, $50,000 will be distributed to individual artists with maximum grants of $1,000 per person. The other $50,000 will be used to support nonprofit arts organizations that are current recipients of the Howard County Arts Council Community Arts Development Grant program.

“Because of Howard County advocating for the arts, and this extremely generous grant, we can continue working toward our future reopening,” Toby Orenstein, artistic director for Toby’s Dinner Theatre, said in a statement. “We hope the state and federal government will be as gracious as Howard County is in showing its support for arts and culture.”

“We will be back, but we need this government assistance desperately to help bridge the gap,” said Jean Parker, general manager at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

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