Torrington venues celebrate getting relief through federal grants

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TORRINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) – Main Street in Torrington has been through a lot over the past 16 months.

Some venues were able to stay afloat by offering virtual programming, but now there’s help in the form of a federal grant.

The Warner Theatre opened in 1931 as a movie theater. It has since become a performing arts venue.

Then, COVID hit and all the cultural businesses on Main Street were on life support with zero revenue. Now, they’re getting some relief.

“Let the word go forth. The intermission is over,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

COVID canceled playtime for thousands of local kids, shutting down places like Torrington’s KidsPlay Children’s Museum. Now, the museum, the Warner Theatre, and other nearby venues like Music Mountain Musical Festival and Bantam Cinema & Arts Center are celebrating over a million dollars in grants through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. This is funding that Connecticut’s congressional district has been pushing for.

Senator Richard Blumenthal and other local and state officials gathered at KidsPlay on Monday to celebrate the federal grants, which they say will enhance life for all those who live in northwest Connecticut.

“We’ve experienced record visitation for July. We’ve been able to do that with managing capacity and keeping our spaces safe as possible. But as we move forward, we’re looking at a fall where things remain uncertain,” said Eileen Marriott, Museum Director of KidsPlay Children’s Museum.

“These grants range in amount. They’re very diverse, from $20,000 for the children’s museum to $755,000 for the Warner,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal says there’s still federal grant money available for cultural institutions, they just need to apply.

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