Legislature tosses $62 million lifeline to arts groups

Utah lawmakers have created a $62 million grant program to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on cultural, arts and recreational groups that attract visitors to Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY – In the midst of budget-cutting during a June 18 special session of the Legislature, lawmakers tossed a lifeline to artistic and cultural groups hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under House Bill 5010, a new $62 million grant program was established to boost struggling businesses and cultural, artistic and recreational groups that promote statewide tourism.

The money for the grants will come from the $2.2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Security Act, which are being administered at state levels. The CARES Act was passed by Congress in late March to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

In Cache Valley, the pandemic caused the cancellation of the summer theatrical seasons for the Lyric Repertory Company and the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theater, plus numerous other public events.

The new grant program will be jointly administered by the state Division of Arts and Museums and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Funding for that program is intended to assist cultural, artistic, botanical, recreational and zoological groups that attract visitors to Utah. The federal guidelines for the program stipulate that those groups can apply for funding to cover up to twice their yearly net costs.

In addition to creating the $62 million grant program for arts groups, lawmakers also made $60 million in federal assistance more available to homeowners and commercial renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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