Five local organizations dedicated to the arts, culture and behavioral health will receive $9,650 in CARES Act funding to help them stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today.

The Erie lawmakers said the organizations including the Erie Philharmonic, the Erie Playhouse, the Erie Art Museum, Erie Arts & Culture and Stairways Behavioral Health, will each receive $1,930.

“These grants will help support the arts in our community and ensure they maintain their position as economic drivers,” Bizzarro said. “The arts are a vital part of our state, and many Pennsylvanians go on to play a role in the industry globally. It’s key that we make sure our arts organizations have the support necessary to bounce back from this pandemic and continue to create and inspire.”

Merski claims that the arts enrich the Erie community in multiple different ways while bringing the community together across cultural lines through the shared enjoyment of performances. The arts also encourage expression of diverse stories.

“They inspire young minds, and they stimulate economic growth by drawing other businesses and commercial activity to the area, said Merski. “Our arts, cultural and behavioral health organizations have been hit hard by the pandemic, and this funding will help provide the support they need to continue operating.”

According to Harkins the arts and cultural institutions create jobs that help power the local economy. Because of the wide appeal, the arts also help drive tourism activity which is a great complement to Erie’s existing natural attractions.

“What’s more, arts audiences spend additional dollars on event-related activities, like dining out. We want to do all we can to help the arts come back stronger than ever, and this funding is a great start,” said Harkins.

Pennsylvania arts organizations received a total of $2.3 million in pandemic relief. Grants were awarded through the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

More information about the funding is available here.