FRESNO, California (KGPE) — The arts and culture sector has been one of the hardest hit in the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. To help out in Fresno, the city is offering more than a million dollars in grants.

The Fresno Arts and Culture Emergency Relief Grant Program is being funded through federal CARES Act dollars. The new program will offer $10,000 to $150,000 grants to cultural institutions like museums, $10,000 to $25,000 grants to performing arts programs, and $5,000 grants to local artists.

The money is being doled out by the Fresno Arts Council.

We were there when the last in-person show ended at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater in March. There hasn’t been another show since because of COVID-19.

“We had to put off our season almost entirely,” Dan Pessano, managing director of the Good Company Players, said.

To make up some lost funds, the Good Company Players recently sold some of their costumes. But, to be standing after the pandemic ends, they’re hoping to get their hands on a grant. It would help with costs like rent, hopefully lasting until Fresno County gets in a better tier — allowing performances again.

“If somebody gave us the go ahead, we would be going ahead,” said Pessano. “The cliche of the show must go on is not a cliche to us, it’s life or death.”

Photographer Marcos Dorado hopes to get a grant as well. Within the last month, he started getting some consistent work again for the first time in many, many months. However, there’s still a big hole to fill with his lack of income this year.

“Luckily, I had a little bit saved, but it goes away pretty quickly. So, having a grant that comes around that is made specifically for individual artists is a great asset,” he said.

Fresno City Council unanimously approved the program three weeks ago. Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria said while it’s about helping the art community out, it’s also about keeping some of Fresno’s finest treasures alive.

“Entertainment, art and cultural events bring a lot of dollars to our local economy. I think this is our way of saying, hey, we value you. We want to make sure you exist beyond [the pandemic],” she said.

You can click here for the application.