Del. State of the Union “Virtual” Guests Represent Arts, Small Business, Education and Community

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Members of Delaware’s congressional delegation carried on the tradition of welcoming special guests for the President’s State of the Union Address… although due to the pandemic, the guests attended ‘virtually.’

Senator Tom Carper, D-Del. hosted leaders of several arts-related organizations that had to close early in the pandemic, adjusted their operations to reopen, and applied for relief through the American Rescue Plan Act. They included Fred Munzert of The Milton Theatre and Darren Silvis and staff with the Freeman Arts Pavilion in Selbyville.

Perhaps no industry felt the brunt of the pandemic more quickly, and severely, than live venues,” Munzert said.  “Especially at the Milton Theatre as 100 percent of our operating costs come from ticket sales. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant helped pay for our operations and enabled us to keep essential staff that attended to all the work to ensure that we’re ready for our eventual reopening. The Milton Theatre is serving the community again and is determined to stay as a premier live art venue for generations to come.”

“The Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization based in Selbyville, Delaware, operates the Freeman Arts Pavilion, an open-air performing arts venue, located just three miles west of Fenwick Island. Founded in 2007, the organization’s mission of making the arts accessible for all continued to make an impact even during the COVID-19 pandemic with a 2020 performance season, operating among only a handful of live arts venues across the country,” Silvis said. “In 2021, the Pavilion safely welcomed over 81,000 patrons for live, diverse arts performances, and new, innovative arts programs were created for local school children, reaching over 35,000. This success was due to the impact of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and the Payroll Protection Program. The Foundation remains full of gratitude for these programs that amplified its role as a leading, sustainable arts organization serving the residents and visitors of Delaware and beyond.”

Senator Chris Coons, D-Del. also virtually invited Delawareans who are involved in promoting national service and helping small businesses, as well as education leaders. One guest of Coons was Anastasia Jackson, owner of a Milford business.

“I am proud to be a leader in the state of Delaware where I have spent my entire 31-year career in education. We appreciate the support of President Biden and our Delaware legislators, especially Senators Coons and Carper, as well as our Congresswoman Blunt-Rochester, as being a principal in a pandemic has certainly been a test of every fiber of my being,” DSU Early College High School Principal Dr. Evelyn Edney said. “I truly appreciate Senator Coons reaching out to school leaders listening to us and wanting to know how he can help us. I am grateful for his continued support of educators.”

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