N.J. to provide $15 million in aid to arts, cultural venues

Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed into law S3521, which provides $15 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for arts and cultural venues throughout New Jersey.

Murphy has now signed two of the five bills of a $100 million relief package passed by the Legislature. The package also includes a bill for $35 million in aid to food and beverage businesses, $10 million for child care services and $15 million for nonprofits and other businesses.

The relief aid will be administered by both the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Specifically, the bill makes available $7.5 million to the EDA for for-profit organizations and $7.5 million to the State Council on the Arts for nonprofit organizations.

Murphy said the aid is vital to an important sector of society.

“Our arts and cultural establishments are among the best in the nation, but they have faced difficult challenges over the past year,” he said. “It’s time we lifted up these organizations and venues to ensure they are still with us as we emerge from the pandemic and look to once again experience the joy they offer.”

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said the bill will provide aid to one of the hardest-hit sectors.

“One of the greatest sacrifices the COVID-19 pandemic has required is the significant scaling back of in-person art events and performances,” he said. “This has been a loss for our communities, our culture and, most of all, performers and the venues that host them.

“The bill Gov. Murphy has signed today will be crucial to ensuring we maintain and grow the thriving creative communities that make New Jersey special as we recover from the pandemic.”

It may prove to be a doubly good day for some of the institutions involved.

The Small Business Administration began taking applications for its $16.2 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.