"Bridge" Grants Help Kalamazoo Arts Groups | WMUK

"Bridge" Grants Help Kalamazoo Arts Groups

May 7, 2020

A music ensemble performs during a pre-pandemic Kalamazoo Art Hop
Credit Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo

The coronavirus pandemic is causing serious financial pain for arts organizations in Kalamazoo. But a new fund may help them weather the crisis.


Greater Kalamazoo Arts Council Executive Director Kristin Chesak says the "Bridge Fund" will help replace some lost revenue from canceled concerts, theater performances, and art shows.

"These folks have not been able to do their craft for going on two months now, and possibly for the the next three to four months. Which is unfortunate because Kalamazoo really is a great place for us to have creative expression and to experience great art."

Chesak says arts organizations are suffering alongside restaurants and other businesses during the pandemic.

"And they're in the same boat. They rely on people to come out and get their services. And when that can't happen they can't pay the rent."

Arts organizations are eligible for federal loans under the CARES Act, and some have applied for the. But Chesak says they often are not enough.

"We wanted to make sure as the Arts Council, as the connector and the resource-giver in the community, that we're also looking to help make sure that we can make some funds available to get us through this time."

Chesak says the "Bridge Fund" will give arts groups a little more breathing room as they try to navigate all of the uncertainties created by the pandemic.

"It's not going to be the thing that saves an organization. But I'm hoping that it's the difference between not paying their rent next month or not having enough to pay the utility bills, or the difference between having to lay off 20 people versus keeping them on to plan for their recovery."

Chesak says more than $200,000 has been donated to start the fund. She says grants will be available until the money runs out. The money comes from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation, and the Suzanne U. D. Parish Foundation. And Chesak several others are expected to contribute soon.