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Arts & Culture

PPP Loans Help Charlotte Arts Groups Weather COVID-19

Charlotte Symphony musicians have performed online concerts since concert halls were closed because of the coronavirus.
Musicians of the Charlotte Symphony
Charlotte Symphony musicians have performed online concerts since concert halls were closed because of the coronavirus.

Updated May 12, 2020
Several of Charlotte's most prominent arts organizations have gotten loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. The money will help pay performers and staff during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Arts and cultural institutions have canceled events and closed their galleries during the pandemic - losing out on ticket sales and admission fees. The PPP helps not only businesses, but also arts and nonprofit organizations, make up for lost revenues.

Charlotte Ballet got $615,000. Executive Director Doug Singleton says it helped avoid layoffs of dancers, administrators and instructors. 

"It keeps the organization operational as we navigate through our transition from pre-COVID to re-opening in a very different environment," Singleton said. 

Blumenthal Performing Arts got about $1.7 million in the second round of PPP funding.

“The money allowed us to avoid layoffs and furloughs since performances are suspended through July 7,” said CEO Tom Gabbard.  

Another is the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte. It's using $610,300 in federal money to support its payroll. Leaders there also have taken pay cuts ranging from 10-50%, according to a spokesperson.

Other PPP loans included $1.2 million to Charlotte Symphony and $753,000 to the Mint Museum. WFAE received $617,000.

The Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture also got a loan but would not disclose the amount. 

In a statement, the symphony said:  "This loan will help the CSO to keep its talented staff and musicians – totaling 85 – employed. We look forward to continuing to find innovative ways to fulfill our mission."

The Mint Museum has 82 employees at its two locations - uptown and on Randolph Road.  CEO Todd Herman said the museum - and most of the city's other museums - are discussing a coordinated reopening, possibly in early to mid-July. 

"We are following the governor’s recommendations and timeline closely to determine when is the appropriate time for the Mint to open—first for staff to prepare the facilities with new signage, sanitation stations, and new artworks on view, and then for public once we are comfortable that all of the correct protocols are in place," Herman said in a statement.

PPP loans can be used for payroll and other operating expenses, such as rent and utilities. While they're technically loans, the Small Business Administration says they'll be forgiven if employees stay on the payroll eight weeks.

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