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Sen. Brown in Dayton touts shuttered arts venue grants

Dayton Ballet members practice in the Dayton Arcade.
Jerry Kenney
Dayton Ballet members practice in the Dayton Arcade.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown was in Dayton Tuesday to shine a spotlight on federal COVID relief funding that has been helping arts organizations stay alive during the pandemic.

Nearly 400 performing arts venues in the state have received more than $300 million in Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOG). That includes the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, which has received nearly $1.2 million.

Brown was a co-sponsor of the so-called Save Our Stages legislation that was included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

During his visit, the senator was given a tour of The Contemporary — formerly the Dayton Visual Arts Center — then it was a quick trip next door to the historic Dayton Arcade where members of the Dayton Ballet put on an exhibition practice.

Tuesday's speakers included (left to right): Issac Jones, Dancer, Dayton Ballet; Neal Gittleman, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra ; U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH); and Lisa Hanson, Culture Works President/CEO

Addressing a handful of arts organization stakeholders gathered in the Arcade's glass-domed rotunda, Brown spoke about the ARPA funding that kept hundreds of arts organizations operating during the COVID crisis.

“When you come to places like Dayton and see what the community is doing, you get ideas and you see the public needs and so this is a key part of our economy and a key part of our culture, he said.”

Culture Works President and CEO Lisa Hanson also addressed the gathering.

“We've worked hard to help this [funding] along, and we're thrilled that this is helping us get back to the business of creating art and that the community can start enjoying art again. It has been missing for so long, and this is much needed.”

The so-called 'Shuttered Venue Grants' were managed by the Small Business Administration and organization leaders could use the funds for a slate of expenses including payroll, rent and utility payments, and other expenditures.