Fresno’s arts scene could get a much-needed boost, if city council approves it


Over $1.5 million in grants could be given to Fresno museums, performing arts programs and artists

FRESNO, California (KGPE) — The arts industry has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, in Fresno, help could be on the way in the form of a new grant program.

If approved by Fresno City Council in Thursday’s meeting, the Fresno Arts and Culture Emergency Relief Grant Program will inject $1.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to help museums, performing arts programs, and local artists.

Things may look the same at the Fresno Art Museum right now, but when it reopens on Oct. 22 visitors will see social distancing markers on the ground. There will be plexiglass installed at the front desk. You’ll have to buy reservations ahead of time, too.

Michele Ellis Pracy, the executive director and head curator at the Fresno Art Museum, said they’ve invested in PPE for visitors and staff as well. While there’s excitement in finally having visitors come back — it’s been a rough seven months of not reopening at all.

“We’re not rolling in [money]. We don’t have a safety net of six months saved back. We live month-to-month basically,” Pracy said.

It’s why she’s hopeful Fresno City Council approves the new grant program. As it is now, museums could get grants from $10,000 to $150,000. Grants for performing arts programs range from $10,000 to $25,000. Local artists qualify for a $5,000 grant.

For photographer Marcos Dorado, he describes the grants as a “step in a very positive direction.” He’s had to cancel several showings of his exhibition, Immigrant Me, around the state.

While he did get some help in the spring, he’s had to figure out new ways to make money. But, like Pracy, he plans to apply for the new grant if it’s passed on Thursday.

“Art is literally all around us from the cars that we drive, the phones that we use, the shirts [we wear] — everything is a design, which means it came from some creative mind,” Dorado said.

For the Fresno Arts and Culture Emergency Relief Grant Program to pass, it’ll need five votes from Fresno City Council. It is subject to Mayor Lee Brand’s veto.

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