JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Symphony is in line to get $1 million in pandemic relief as the city of Jacksonville puts the final touches on using a batch of federal dollars still left over from $167 million the city got last year from the CARES Act.
The symphony's finances took a beating when the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down for several months. Even after the orchestra resumed performances last September, public health-related restrictions on the size of audiences in the concert hall meant fewer ticket sales.
The symphony, which is in the midst of a Stabilization Campaign fundraising drive that recently got a $1 million donation from the Michael Ward & Jennifer Glock Foundation, would use the federal money to help pay day-to-day operating expenses, said spokeswoman Sydney Schless.
"It's going to allow us to keep our doors open as a performing arts institution," she said. "We're the largest performing arts institution in Northeast Florida, so it will help pay the salaries for our musicians and staff and just make sure we're able to continue what we're doing, which is providing the highest artistic quality music for our community."
The symphony wrapped up its season over the weekend and will begins its next season in September. When it does, it will allow more patrons at concerts than it did during the pandemic when attendance was limited to 35 percent capacity for the 1,800 seat hall. The symphony will make a future announcement about the specifics of the change in capacity.
The city's support for the symphony would come from $19.9 million of unspent CARES Act dollars that the city is moving around from other programs so the money can get used by a Nov. 30 deadline.
The legislation (2021-354) was filed Tuesday by Mayor Lenny Curry and could come up for a final vote by City Council by July.
The biggest portion of the proposed reshuffle of the remaining money would cover $16.8 million in overtime costs for Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department employees for hours they put in as a result of the pandemic.
Other payments in the legislation would be $488,000 for emergency response and equipment upgrades; $250,000 to to the Duval County Health Department for vaccinations and other services related to the pandemic; and $50,000 in for a business relief grant to Cathedral District-Jax Inc.
About $1.28 million would remain for City Council to determine, according to the legislation.
The city has used the CARES Act money for a multitude of programs aimed at helping financially stressed residents and business while also rolling out COVID-19 testing sites. In some cases, applications for relief didn't rise to the level of using all the money.
The $19.9 million still on the table results from combining $4.6 million that didn't get used by a Vystar Credit Union small business relief program done in partnership with the city, $2.8 million from an eviction and foreclosure prevention program, and $12.5 million the city had set aside for a potential match for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements for the city's pandemic costs.
Guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury showed the city could not use the CARES Act money for a local match to FEMA.