DARIEN — In an effort to aid arts organizations in the state, Gov. Lamont announced on Oct. 19 a statewide Arts Funding Program available to organizations like the Darien Arts Center that have been affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations made to the Darien Arts Center by Nov. 1, will be matched at 50 percent by this new grant.

Using federal CARES Act funding from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD’s) Office of the Arts will administer the COVID Relief Fund for the arts program with the goal of supporting:

· Arts nonprofits for which grants will make a difference in terms of survival or rehiring; and

· Arts nonprofits that have had to curtail operations for a period of time due to the pandemic and which have had limited ability to reopen due to pandemic restrictions and/or have had to pivot their service delivery due to pandemic restrictions.

“Connecticut’s arts community provides an incredible amount of good for our state and supports thousands of jobs,” Gov. Lamont said. “The ongoing, global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so many aspects of our lives, and many of our state’s nonprofit arts organizations are struggling to recover from its impact. This program will provide some support so that these groups can continue providing the services in our state that so many depend on.”

“The pandemic has wreaked havoc on Connecticut’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations,” Liz Shapiro, DECD’s director of arts, preservation, and museums, said. “The impact of the arts on our communities and our overall quality of life cannot be overstated, so it is important we extend this financial lifeline to our nonprofits to help them weather this storm.”

The Darien Arts Center, founded in 1975, has been home to one of the largest dance programs in the area and offers programs for all ages that include visual arts, music and martial arts. The DAC also hosts the popular annual Smartphone Photo contest, Pic Darien and gives the annual Ginny Wright Scholarship to a graduating Darien High School artist.

In March, the arts center quickly shifted all of its classes, recitals and cultural programing to a virtual setting. It’s ability to quickly adapt to this “new normal” allowed the DAC to operate without interruption and to continue offering a wide variety of programing to the community, a press release said.. The DAC also introduced Created in Place, an online virtual showcase that was opened to the public, calling for works of art created during quarantine. The DAC continues to offer new programs that include Ladies Night Out workshops: a Sip and Paint on Nov. 20 and Wreath Making Workshops on Dec. 2 and 4, in its continuing efforts to provide creative outlets for the community, the release said.

Despite efforts, the Darien Arts Center lost 42 percent of earned income, totaling over $272,000 since March of 2020, it said. The local nonprofit, dedicated to providing visual and performing arts programs and events for the community, is solely funded by private donations, grants, tuition fees and ticket sales, the release said.

To donate to the Darien Arts Center by Nov. 1, and have your gift matched at 50 percent, visit darienarts.org or call 203-655-8683.