Pablo Center

Pablo Center at the Confluence, which opened in 2018 in downtown Eau Claire, is one of several local nonprofit arts organizations to receive state grants to help them recover from the negative impact of COVID-19.

EAU CLAIRE — In a bright spot in a dark year for the arts, 13 nonprofit organizations in Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn counties have been awarded a total of more than $500,000 in cultural grants.

The awards were among $15 million in grants intended to assist cultural nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants, announced recently by Gov. Tony Evers, went to 385 cultural organizations across Wisconsin.

“This will be a huge assistance to cultural nonprofits throughout the Chippewa Valley,” said Jason Jon Anderson, executive director of Pablo Center at the Confluence, which received the region’s largest grant.

Pablo Center’s grant of $137,712 will enable it to pay employees and cover fixed operational expenses for a couple months, Anderson said.

Such funding is crucial, he said, in a year when many cultural organizations are closed because of concerns about people gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After being shuttered for eight months, Pablo Center, for instance, is on track to lose $2.2 million in revenue in the last nine months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier, Anderson said. A decision about reopening the downtown arts center, which has canceled all events until at least the beginning of 2021, will be based on the advice of local public health officials.

Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration, the COVID-19 grants were awarded to nonprofit organizations whose primary missions are to produce, present or exhibit cultural disciplines such as music, dance, theater, literature and the visual arts, or items of environmental or scientific interest. Grants awards can be used to cover pandemic-related impacts such as lost revenue, increased workers’ compensation costs, cleaning and sanitization, and purchases of services or equipment to facilitate telework by employees.

“Just like small businesses, cultural organizations have taken a major financial hit,” DOA Secretary Joel Brennan said in a news release. “We’re all in this together. We hope that these funds will make it possible for us to be able to enjoy the museums, theaters and music from these organizations once it is safe to do so again.”

Other Chippewa Valley-based nonprofit cultural organizations that received grants were:

Chippewa County: Chippewa Valley Cultural Association, $62,741; OneFest, $22,585.

Dunn County: Mabel Tainter Literary, Library and Educational Society, $72,899; Dunn County Historical Society, $7,452.

Eau Claire County: Chippewa Valley Museum, $19,301; Chippewa Valley Symphony, $24,334; Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild, $30,604; Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, $88,671; Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, $7,436; Eau Claire Children’s Theatre, $70,193; Eau Claire Jazz, $17,174; BaredFeet Co., $617.

Additional major recipients from west-central Wisconsin include The Highground in Clark County, $33,247; and The Phipps Center for the Arts in St. Croix County, $137,712.

“These cultural organizations represent the vibrant fabric of communities across our state and support Wisconsin’s tourism industry and local economies,” Evers said in a news release. “This grant program will help organizations cover essential costs related to keeping their employees and communities safe throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”