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Omaha arts, non-profit organizations get millions from Douglas County

Posted at 5:41 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 18:41:46-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The arts community in Omaha has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. In total, thousands of events have been cancelled and millions of dollars have been lost.

“Without these funds these organizations will not be able to reopen. They’ve just been so severely impacted. The revenues are just not there,” says Donna Kush, CEO of the Omaha Community Foundation.

Tuesday, the Douglas County Board gave them a huge boost, approving $10 million worth of funds that will go to a long list of organizations such as the Joslyn Arts Museum, Holland Center, Orpheum Theatre and even the CHI Health Center.

“Music and the arts and the fantasy of it is so important to mental health and just well being, and so I really have been waiting for this to happen," says Mike Boyle, county commissioner.

The money includes renovations to facility air systems, touchless equipment and appliances, staffing costs and money to advertise when they feel it’s time to reopen.

“When we get through this, and we will, we want that vibrant portion of our economy to come back like everything else,” says Jim Cavanaugh, county commissioner.

There is also several million dollars that is earmarked for many of the smaller art institutions across Omaha.

“When we first put together this proposal, we immediately put in funds for other organizations because we don’t do well, unless everybody else does well within this community," says Jack Becker, executive director of Joslyn Art Museum.

The board then spent an additional $10 million on money for local non-profits that will be allocated by the Omaha Community Foundation.

Then the board switched gears and made a non-binding request, asking the governor to allow local officials to make local policies.

This comes after Governor Ricketts threatened lawsuits if Omaha issues a mask mandate.

“Let our possible makers set our policies, let the board of health do the job they’re created for,” says Clare Duda, chair of the committee.