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After one of the worst years for the arts and entertainers in living memory, many in Johnson County will end the year with a piece of a $400,000 silver lining.

In early December, Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs made $7 million in grant money available to state arts/culture organizations. The funds were announced and allocated in on an expedited timeline of under a month. Ultimately, 267 cultural organizations and 152 artists in 118 communities received a portion of the funds, according to the news release announcing the awards.

"The department launched the Iowa Arts & Culture Recovery Program (Dec. 22)," the release continued, "and received more than 550 requests totaling more than $36 million by the Dec. 11 deadline."

Of those 267 cultural organizations receiving funds, 15 are based out of Johnson County, with the group being awarded a collective $437,500. The amounts granted to Johnson County organizations range from $1,500 for Family Folk Machine to $114,000 for The Iowa Children's Museum in Coralville.

► From June: Iowa City art organizations wade forward with what they can in ripples from COVID-19

IDCA noted that Iowa City also ranked sixth on the Western State's Art Federation's list of most creative cities in America and that, in a typical year, arts and culture account for roughly "2.3% of the state's economy."

Though helpful, the funds granted represent a fraction of the $46.4 million IDCA estimates the organizations applying for the grants across the state lost in combined revenue since March, based on data provided by the applicants.

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Iowa City's Englert Theatre, for example, expects to see a $1 million reduction in revenue by the end of the year, John Schickedanz, the Englert's marketing director, estimated in October.

“Art, history, culture and creativity are vital to Iowa communities and further promote our overall quality of life,” Reynolds said in a release when the funds were first announced. “Right now, many cultural venues are financially at risk for no other reason than for doing their part to slow the spread of the virus. This program will provide new resources to help these small businesses adapt their operations, maintain jobs and be ready to re-open as we return to a new normal.”

► More: Despite pandemic-related challenges, Riverside, Englert, FilmScene don't ask for more from Iowa City in 2021

"We’re just glad to be able to provide some grant funds to help bridge to what’s next," Chris Kramer, IDCA's director, told the Press-Citizen in an interview. "Going into 2021, the federal stimulus bill has some additional relief for live music venues and for arts and culture that will hopefully help strengthen these organizations."

Music venues have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Staples of the Iowa City music scene — such as Gabes — have been hard-pressed for funds, and new venues like Elray's Live & Dive have likewise struggled to get by.

Johnson County's IDCA grant recipients:

  • Coralville Center for the Performing Arts: $42,000
  • Family Folk Machine: $1,500
  • FilmScene: $59,500
  • Gabe's Live Music Venue: $23,800
  • Hancher Auditorium: $64,500
  • International Academy for Russian Music, Arts and Culture: $5,000
  • Iowa City Community Theatre: $2,500
  • Iowa City Foreign Relations Council: $2,500
  • Johnson County Historical Society: $5,000
  • Riverside Theatre: $15,300
  • Summer of the Arts: $22,400
  • The Englert Theatre: $62,000
  • The Iowa Children's Museum: $114,000
  • The Quire: $2,500
  • Wildwood Smokehouse and Saloon Live Music Venue: $15,000

See the complete list:

For a complete list, head to the IDCA's website or, if it isn't displaying for you below, try this link.

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at ihamlet@press-citizen.com or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.

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