Millions in grant funding approved for Fresno theatres, museums, non-profits

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two new exhibits are now ready to touch the hearts and minds of visitors at Fresno Art Museum when it reopens for the first time in seven months.

One features pieces by nearly 40 women artists while the other consists of intricate quilts and other works by Bonnie Peterson, inspired by Yosemite National Park.

Curator Sarah Vargas says, "We are so excited to be reopening to the public. We are looking to reopen October 22, that's next Thursday. For the first two weeks, it's going to be members only, and reservations are required, masks are required."

Vargas says the closure has been emotionally and financially draining, but now there's a new opportunity to recoup some of the losses.

The Fresno City Council approved $1.5 million from the CARES Act to provide grants of up to $150,000 for museums, theaters, and other local arts programs.

Vargas says, "Having the CARES Act is a huge, huge bonus for us - knowing the city is willing to show support for the arts, to invest in us, to keep us alive."

The council also approved more than $1.3 million for Pardini's to continue delivering free food to seniors, $1 million for the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation to distribute small business grants, and a half million dollars to support non-profits with grants of up to $20,000.

Fresno City Council Member Esmerelda Soria says, "Many of them are struggling because they don't have any income that they relied on, the dinners, fundraising events just to pay their PG&E, pay their rent, so they're in jeopardy of losing their buildings."

Soria says the plan is to focus on those who do not qualify for other federal funds.

She explains, "There are a number of non-profits like the veteran nonprofits or others that haven't benefitted from any of those types of resources that we're hoping to be able to serve and develop a criteria that would allow them to access these dollars."

The arts and culture grants will be distributed through the Fresno Arts Council, while the non-profit grants will be distributed through the city's Economic Development department. Both agencies plan to provide information about how to apply on their websites and social media pages.
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