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North Texas arts groups face new pandemic challenges

Editor’s note: Reconnecting after a traumatic year of separation and loss is a work-in-progress. KERA and The Dallas Morning News are collaborating to document how North Texas’ arts and culture scene is emerging from the pandemic. The News’ Tim Diovanni and KERA’s Jerome Weeks report on how performing arts groups and museums are grappling with state laws, CDC guidelines and a rise in coronavirus cases.

Canceling shows. Extending mask requirements. Testing staff and performers for COVID-19.

As coronavirus infections spike across the region due to the highly contagious delta variant, North Texas arts groups are again finding themselves on uncertain ground as they did in the pandemic’s earlier days.

But now there are major differences.

New state laws and executive orders restrict what businesses can do in response to COVID-19. And vaccinations are readily available.

Under an executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, government entities — including

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Chattanooga Tourism Co. gives grant funding to 26 local arts and culture groups

The arts, culture and heritage of Chattanooga help make the Scenic City distinctive and appealing to both residents and visitors.

So when the Chattanooga Tourism Co. developed a new strategic plan two years ago about how to attract more tourists to Chattanooga, support for the arts and culture of the community was identified as one of the new missions of the tourism promotion agency.

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the effort for a year, but the Chattanooga Tourism Co. has now awarded its first 26 grants to local artists and cultural and historic programs which the agency plans to do annually with a portion of its hotel tax collections.

“The arts and culture of our community are a vital part of what makes our community unique, special and attractive and we are trying to collaborate with and offer support for our local artists and cultural groups and the events and

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COVID-19 is taking a ‘frightening’ toll on Miami-Dade’s arts and culture groups

For the Frost Museum of Science, the first of Miami-Dade’s major cultural institutions to reopen in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, a salvaged summer season was supposed to be something of a grace note in a lost year. It didn’t quite work out that way.

When the museum opened in June, administrators were hoping to recapture enough summer traffic, usually the highest of the year, to steady its capsizing finances. But a resurgence of infections in July and August, strict capacity limits and many families’ continued reluctance to risk exposure — even with well-publicized safety protocols — kept ticket sales at just a quarter of the level of the summer before, CEO Frank Steslow said.

Now, if Congress fails to approve a second hefty federal bailout along the lines of the multi-billion aid program that helped the Frost ride out three months of total closure, Steslow said, the

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