Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: Nearly $257,000 in grants to bolster Erie arts, cultural, natural science attractions impacted by pandemic

ERIE, Sept. 15 – Four grants totaling $256,916 will help key Erie arts, cultural and natural science attractions offset revenue losses caused by the pandemic, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the grants approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority include $125,052 to the Erie Zoological Society, $63,179 to the Erie Philharmonic, $43,685 to the Erie Playhouse and $25,000 to the expERIEnce Children’s Museum.

“Erie has a wealth of unique resources, from our community of talented artists, musicians and performers to our museums and zoo,” Bizzarro said. “Unfortunately, the organizations that showcase those resources – and enhance area tourism – have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Securing this funding will help them offset losses and regain strength so they can resume their role in enriching our community and stimulating our economy.”

Harkins said, “Like other businesses and organizations, many of the attractions that make our Erie community special – our philharmonic, playhouse, children’s museum and zoo – have felt the impact of empty concert halls and exhibit rooms. Our unique zoo – which has served our region for more than 90 years and welcomes more than 300,000 visitors annually – has lost more than $1.6 million in revenue. These grants will help bolster these beloved organizations so they can safely reopen their doors to a community that is eager to support them.”

Merski said, "One of the toughest aspects of the pandemic has been its impact on live events and exhibitions. Although some attractions have reopened, all have suffered significant revenue losses caused by prolonged shutdowns and capacity restrictions. This funding is a vital shot in the arm for these organizations, which benefit Erie in so many ways by keeping our community connected on a personal level, stimulating kids to learn and attracting visitors to our area.”

The grants are part of a package of $20 million in grant funding through the COVID-19 Cultural and Museum Preservation Grant Program to 164 organizations in 36 counties to help them offset pandemic-related losses. The program is administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development. More information on the grants is available here.