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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

The Grand lays off over half of its staff amidst COVID-19 financial troubles

The Grand Opera House

The Grand announced Monday it's laying off nearly 60 percent of their full time staff as COVID-19 cripples the arts industry.


19 members of The Grand’s 33 full time staff are being let go, and the remaining staff is taking a pay cut to keep the venue alive during the pandemic.


The Delaware Arts Alliance projects a loss of nearly 14 million dollars in revenue for local arts organizations by the end of August.  It also notes more than half of large art and culture organizations are at risk of shutting down in the next four months.


With no known reopening possible on the horizon The Grand’s executive director, Mark Fields, doesn’t know how long it can last.


He says the organization is dipping into endowment funds, but will eventually need more funds to cover basic operating costs.


“We don’t know when artists feel like they can both safely and affordably go on tour around the country. So there’s just a lot of question marks right now. What we’ve done is a stopgap measure and we’re just hoping that we can continue to make it work.”


The Grand’s board of directors is pushing to raise the last 2 million dollars of the annual operating budget to keep it running until they can find a way to reopen.


The theatre is currently putting on a successful summer concert series in Frawley Stadium, but Fields says those concerts aren’t about revenue, but to keep a connection with the community. It’s not profitable to organize these outdoor events and with colder temperatures on the horizon, The Grand hopes it can weather the storm.


Paul Weagraff, Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts says many organizations are looking to their patrons for support.


“If you are a regular patron of a particular organization, I encourage the listeners to reach out to those organizations, go to their websites, find out what they’re doing and ask them specifically how they can support them.”


The Division of the Arts hosts an arts calendar called Delaware Scene where anyone looking to support arts organizations can find virtual events and other unique performances.


Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from theDelaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.