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Weston Playhouse Theatre Company and Dorset Theatre Festival will both receive a $50,000 coronavirus relief grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The funding is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal legislation passed to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both theater companies were forced to postpone their summer 2020 seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Weston is profoundly appreciative and grateful for this grant from the NEA, which provides an important foundation as we look ahead to making theatre in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis," Weston Playhouse Theatre Company Executive Artistic Director Susanna Gellert said in a news release announcing the grant. "This support recognizes Weston's impact on its community and on the theatre field at large. Just as important is the impact our community of audiences, artists, and students has on the theatre; Weston would not be what it is today without them."

Weston will use its share of funds to support its education programs for all ages and new works development and programming.

Dorset Theatre Festival plans to use its funds to support personnel and facilities costs.

"Despite losing essentially all of our box office revenue this year, rent was still due," Dorset spokesman Ryan Koss said of the organization's financial needs. "In addition to keeping the lights on and helping to retain the Festival's full-time staff of four, the CARES grant will also help us prepare to open our doors to the public, when it is safe to do so, by ensuring we have great works in progress for several seasons to come. Protecting the Festival's 43-year history, especially its growth over the past decade, means continuing to provide professional theatre while serving our artists, audiences, and community in ways that meet this unprecedented moment."

Later this summer, Dorset plans to hold virtual presentations of new plays in development. Vermont novelist Chris Bohjalian, originally scheduled to appear in Dorset's Pipeline Series of new plays this summer, is working on a stage adaptation of his novel, "Wingspan," with hopes of an August presentation.

Weston Playhouse Theatre Company and Dorset Theatre Festival are two of six Vermont arts organizations that received a total of $300,000 in funding. Nationally, 855 organizations received grants out of more than 3,000 applicants.

"We know the competition for federal funds is always stiff, but especially now when the arts and culture sector is struggling," Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman said of the process.

"These grants recognize the incredible value of creativity and artistic practice in the midst of the pandemic, and the vitality that arts organizations bring to our communities," she said.

In Southern Vermont, Yellow Barn, an international chamber music organization based in Putney, received a $50,000 grant.

Kingdom County Productions of Barnet, Vermont Folklife Center of Middlebury, and Community Engagement Lab of Montpelier also received grants of $50,000 each.


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