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  • January 20, 2022 4:57 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Fox19 Now

    The Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Museum of Art will close for a week and a half starting Monday to give their staff members a break. 

    Cincinnati Art Museum’s Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert Director Cameron Kitchin says it is a “needed intermission” after two years of the pandemic.

    This includes indoor galleries, Terrace Cafe, the museum shop, and public programs so that employees and volunteers can focus on healing and community service.

    The Taft Museum of Art says that they are temporarily closing due to the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and visitors.. Programs and events will be rescheduled or held virtually.

    Officials with the museum add that ticket holders will also be notified of cancellations and/or rescheduled dates. They will also honor refunds. 

    Museum officials say all staff will continue full employment and receive regular pay and benefits during the closure.

    The Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Museum of Art are not the only places in the Cincinnati area to close temporarily. 

    On Friday, Perfect North announced that they were temporarily closing due to the unusual weather. 

    According to FOX19 NOW’s meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer, temperatures were in the 60s and 50s on Friday and Saturday, with heavy rain through Saturday night. 

    Perfect North says that they will reopen Monday at 1 p.m.

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  • January 20, 2022 4:55 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from ArtForum

    As the Covid-19 crisis looks set to enter its third year, US museum workers, many of whose jobs were precarious or attached to low wages even prior to the pandemic, continue to push for unionization in an effort to gain some measure of job security and ensure safe working conditions. Staff at the Art Institute of Chicago this week concluded a process begun last summer and voted overwhelmingly to unionize, with 144 in favor, twenty-two against, and twenty votes “not counted due to management challenges.” The employees will join the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, becoming the first at a major Chicago institution to do so.

    Meanwhile, in New York, employees of the Jewish Museum are seeking to join the Technical, Office, and Professional Union Local 2110 UAW. Should they be successful in their efforts, art handlers, curators, educators, and development staff would be among those included, as well as public-facing staff including retail and visitor experience workers. The museum—which in addition to struggling with Covid-related closures and safety measures was in summer 2020 roiled by allegations of a lack of workplace diversity—has said that it will “will respectfully engage in any process that transpires.”

    The uncertainty faced by museum workers is now being felt by institutions themselves, thanks to the pandemic’s relentless grind. Seeking to mitigate staffing shortages brought on by the recent surge of the Omicron variant, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it would increase the pay of its museum guards, raising the starting wage from $15.51 per hour, just above New York State’s minimum wage, to $16.50. The institution negotiated the raise with Local 1503 of District Council 37, which represents the guards.

    Given the aforementioned precarity associated with many museum jobs and the multiple arts-institution staff unionizations taking place across the country in recent years, organization seems likely to continue apace. With Covid-19 in the mix, ravaging staff numbers both in terms of ill employees calling in sick and in regard to hiring issues, with fewer people hungry for public-facing jobs perceived as risky to personal health, many museums may find themselves following in the footsteps of the Met and raising wages in the coming months.

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  • January 04, 2022 9:30 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from CNBC

    The U.S. has reported a record single-day number of daily Covid cases, with more than 1 million new infections.

    A total of 1,082,549 new coronavirus cases were reported Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as the highly infectious omicron variant continues to spread throughout the country.

    The new daily tally brings the total number of cases confirmed in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic to 56,189,547. In total, the virus has caused at least 827,748 deaths across the country.

    The record single-day total may be due in part to delayed reporting from over the holiday weekend. A number of U.S. states did not report data on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, and many do not report data on weekends, meaning that some of these cases could be from positive tests taken on prior days.

    Nonetheless, as of Jan. 3, the seven-day average of daily new U.S. cases is 480,273, the highest such metric of new cases in any country tracked by Johns Hopkins.

    About 98,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a seven-day average of data from the Department of Health and Human Services as of Jan. 3, up 32% from a week ago. That figure is approaching peak delta wave levels when about 103,000 people were in hospital beds with Covid across the country in early September, but remains lower than last winter’s high mark of roughly 137,000 U.S. hospitalizations.

    The U.S. is reporting an average of about 1,200 daily Covid deaths for the week ended Jan. 3, Johns Hopkins data shows, well below the record numbers seen following last year’s holiday season when the daily average held above 3,000 for about a month starting in January 2021. The death toll tends to lag rises in case counts and hospitalizations, however.

    In recent weeks, the U.S. has seen the omicron variant starting to edge out the previously dominant delta strain of the virus.

    The latest available weekly data from the U.S. CDC, ended on Dec. 25, estimates that the delta variant accounted for around 41% of cases while omicron made up around 58.6% of U.S. infections.

    U.S. health officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus given concerns over the new variant.

    Early studies suggested that Covid vaccines are less effective against the omicron variant compared with the delta strain and other variants. But the same studies have indicated that three vaccine doses — the two preliminary shots plus a booster — significantly increase the level of protection against omicron.

    Research has also suggested that the omicron variant causes less severe infections.

    The rise of the variant led to thousands of flight cancellations during the holiday season and has caused some businesses and schools to consider temporary closures. Several major Wall Street banks have asked employees to work from home for the first few weeks of January.

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  • January 04, 2022 9:26 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Magazine

    The entry security checkpoint into a protected venue, such as a museum, is one of the last lines of defense and deterrence in the security ring — it ensures people and their belongings are checked and cleared individually prior to gaining access into a facility. Bad actors and threat items that have not been caught by previous security rings — intelligence, commute, parking, and walkways, for example — will need to be cleared at this location. 

    In the pre-pandemic period, classic security and operational planning required balancing the four Ds (deter, deny, delay and detect) as well as operational efficiencies, such as orderly line management and people flow. In addition, this ring often represents the first greeting of all guests, and as such aims to facilitate a respectful and positive guest experience. However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an added layer of consideration to the balance: public health.

    Advanced technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) can enable better efficiencies and self-service, but they can also minimize contact by security personnel, assist with social distancing and reduce unnecessary contact with high-touch areas. In order to accomplish these goals, the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has deployed a technology-supported protocol as part of its adjustment to meet the new need of public health protection.

    The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., first opened its doors to the public in 2017, and has since established itself as one of the major attractions on the National Mall. Since its foundation, the museum has put a strong emphasis on the combination of customer service with a high level of security required for the protection of both people and the valuable historical content of the museum. The museum implemented the Qylur Q self-service entry security solution with advanced technologies including automation, AI, and collaborative human-machine interaction.

    The access control solution integrates multiple technologies which have been deployed at the venue’s security checkpoint and security operations center. Each Q kiosk has five independent self-service pods, which use color-panel indicators to direct guest bag screening activity. Remote screeners work in tandem with the kiosks’ AI-automated detection to achieve the highest level of detection of both security threats and prohibited items.

    A plan for reopening 

    In March 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak made its way across the U.S., the museum closed to the public as part of the lockdown and closure measures mandated by the mayor of Washington, D.C. During that period, the Museum of the Bible’s leadership team planned for the anticipated reopening and the required COVID-19 response preparedness that would be allowed during Phase II of the mayor’s guidance. The museum security team was tasked with the expanded charge of protecting employee and public health by following the many new procedures published by health authorities.

    On top of that, the team has the increased challenge of practicing its usually tight security with both staff and people wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing. The museum’s security team and Qylur worked together to create a new concept of operations (CONOP) and technology to ensure social distancing between guests and officers at the security checkpoint. The new CONOP covered the entry process, line management, flow control, officer location and intervention. The technology modifications focused on the Q kiosk, which used an operating algorithm with changes to its automation logic and self-service visual cues.

    From the operational perspective, a new line-management protocol was adopted to ensure social distancing and abide by health regulations which focused on a safe environment for all guests and staff within the museum. A new self-resolution for non-threatening prohibited items and adjusted locations for the officers was also implemented to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission (see Figure 3 for operational line management pre-COVID-19 and during the Phase II reopening). These adjustments ensured that not only did guests feel safe while visiting the museum, but officers and staff also knew that their safety was top priority for the museum’s leadership.

    Additionally, a new “pandemic mode” flow control algorithm was developed and implemented in the access control kiosk. In normal times, a key goal is to maximize people flow by using all five pods at the same time. However, to accommodate social distancing requirements, the Museum of the Bible leveraged the visual cues, automation and self-service capabilities of the kiosk in a new algorithm that set the colors of the pod panels to ensure that only one guest per side could approach and use the system. In other words, a guest could only use the kiosk at each corner (front left, front right, back left, and back right). With only two cells operational on each side, guests would be at different sections of the Q kiosk during their process, thus always following social distancing guidelines.

    These measures, along with the training received by the officers, focused on protecting the public as well as the staff and allowed the museum to open much sooner than many of its counterparts within the District of Columbia. 

    Post-reopening

    More than 3 months later, when the city announced its second phase of easing the lockdown, the museum was one of the very first attractions to reopen, having to chart its own course in new territory. To date, the Museum of the Bible has had millions of visitors go through museum entry security, with peak pre-COVID-19 daily scans of several thousands of patrons. The museum has locked and contained tens of thousands of potential threats and prohibited objects. During the period from June 2020 to May 2021, while operating in pandemic mode, the museum continued to welcome guests at a high rate, maintaining smooth and easy operations throughout. As of June 2021, the facility returned to pre-pandemic mode while retaining the ability to re-engage pandemic mode with a simple settings change, allowing the museum to make quick changes if conditions worsened in the city. 

    As many public institutions learned throughout this pandemic, situations can change swiftly, and security professionals must be prepared to react just as quickly. As technology improves and changes how we conduct our daily lives, having the ability to use these systems to adapt how we protect our institutions is crucial and will help the security industry face the next world-altering scenario.

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  • January 04, 2022 9:22 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Inc.

    The pandemic changed everything, and for most employees, it's had a resounding impact on how they perform and simply do work. With unprecedented quit rates in the millions every month, employees now demand much more from their organizations than merely "work" and "pay."

    With the Great Resignation in full swing, organizations must invest in helping their managers relearn skills that will enable them to address the new, unique needs of their teams.

    To navigate this new world of work, here are three steps that will set these leaders apart as we head into a new year.

    1. Make employee mental health a top priority

    Although the repercussions of the pandemic may not fully play out for years, one thing is clear: You cannot ignore the mental health of your employees.

    Considering the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace and countering these common barriers, there are many strategies leaders can implement to foster a caring culture. For example:

    • Evaluate your existing health benefits: Do the insurance plans you offer to workers include mental health services? Would additional services to reduce the impact of stress, anxiety and depression be useful? If you're a leader now, underscoring the importance of mental health benefits shows that you value the well-being of your people. In turn, employees are less hesitant to utilize those services.
    • Include mental health information in your new hire orientation. Communicate openly with your new employees about the benefits and resources you're providing and stress the importance of self-care and burnout prevention. And to foster community around the issue, reinforce the benefits of having a culture of mental health during the onboarding process and throughout the employee lifecycle.
    • Leaders should openly support mental health conversations: Fostering a strong culture of mental health support starts at the top. The most successful business leaders exhibit openness, honesty and authenticity, and the discussion surrounding mental health should be no exception.

    2. Provide ongoing opportunities for employee development

    To truly understand what employees want from their organizations, Degreed surveyed 2,400 global employees, including team managers and leaders, across all sectors and company sizes.

    The research focused on how the workforce learns by looking at the differences between those who rated their company learning cultures as positive (called promoters) and those who rated their learning cultures as negative (detractors).

    In positive learning cultures, managers play a proactive role in their team's learning. They engage their people by creating development plans, finding new opportunities to grow, and sharing feedback on progress. The difference is staggering: Promoters are 270 percent more likely to say their manager supports their development.

    Additionally, the research found that professional growth is recognized more continuously than just promotions every few years. Lateral moves, stretch assignments, and mentorships all provide crucial opportunities for individual development.

    3. Foster a culture of care

    Limeade, an organization dedicated to researching and improving employee well-being, recently released its new study, "The Great Resignation Update," to examine why the "Great Resigners" left.

    When asked how their new employer compared to their previous employer, job changers feel more comfortable disclosing a mental health condition and a greater sense that their new company cares about their well-being.

    "When employees feel cared about, they're more committed, engaged, have lower stress, and better well-being," said Jessi Crast, researcher at Limeade. 

    Crast defines a caring culture as "providing organizational support for employee's social, physical, occupational, and emotional well-being." One way to achieve a caring culture is equipping managers with the right skills, like the ability to empathize with direct reports.

    Other tips Crast recommends include fostering peer social networks, providing transparency from leadership, offering tools and resources, enabling two-way communication, and investing in employees' development.

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  • January 04, 2022 9:13 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The New York Times

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art said Tuesday that it would limit attendance to roughly 10,000 visitors per day because of the highly infectious Omicron variant. During a normal holiday season, the museum would expect nearly twice as many visitors.

    “The safety of our staff and visitors remains our top priority,” the Met’s chief executive, Daniel H. Weiss, said in a statement. “Reduced density is a first step we can take — and our dedicated staff has done an extraordinary job in making necessary changes to adapt to our public health circumstances while also allowing the museum to remain open and keep everyone safe.”

    The move came as another major institution, the Baltimore Museum of Art, said that it was closing its galleries through Dec. 29 because of an increase in positive coronavirus tests.

    “We need a moment to step back and ensure our staff is ready to serve museum visitors,” the Baltimore museum said in an email on Tuesday. “We think cautiously is the best way to move forward.”

    On Thursday, the Winter Show (a large art, antique and design fair) postponed its Jan. 20 opening at the Park Avenue Armory, with plans to announce new dates in the coming weeks. In Queens, the Noguchi Museum has closed through Jan. 4 because of the Omicron variant. And in New Haven, Conn., the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art have both closed through Jan. 2.

    Kenneth Weine, the Met’s spokesman, said that reduced capacity would help limit density inside the building’s entrances. Outside the entrances, though, with staff members checking vaccination status of visitors, he said there could be longer lines. The Met will also end food services starting on Thursday and is asking many employees to work from home.

    Reports of coronavirus cases in New York State have increased by more than 80 percent over two weeks, and federal authorities have said the Omicron variant now accounts for nearly three-quarters of new cases.

    Cultural institutions have typically relied on the holidays to aid revenue. This latest coronavirus surge has led to the sudden cancellation of performances and special programming around the city. Over the weekend, nearly a third of all Broadway shows were canceled because of positive coronavirus tests among their casts and crews, and several are shut down through Christmas.

    “The museum field is already facing a slow recovery,” said Laura Lott, president and chief executive of the American Alliance of Museums.

    “Another wave of reduced capacity and potential closures, without further federal assistance, could prove devastating,” she added.

    Museums are also implementing new safety measures. Both the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Brooklyn Museum, for example, have canceled many in-person tours.

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  • January 04, 2022 9:06 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from US News & World Report

    An information technology system security breach detected late last month prompted the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to shut down its website for a state investigation, the museum announced this week.

    There’s no evidence that the breach is connected to the ransomware attack on Virginia legislative agencies’ IT systems, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Virginia State Police are investigating a ransomware attack on state legislative agencies, discovered late Sunday night.

    There’s also no evidence that personal or financial information was accessed or compromised, spokeswoman Jan Hatchette said. The museum said it hopes to restore the website by the end of the week.

    The museum, an independent agency of the state, said the Virginia Information Technologies Agency detected a compromise in the website in late November, along with “evidence indicating an existing security threat from an unauthorized third-party.”

    Hatchette said the museum took the website offline while the breach is investigated, contained and the website's functionality is restored. A temporary website was put up “until the restoration is complete,” she said.

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  • January 04, 2022 9:02 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Artnet News

    Museums in Denmark and the Netherlands will close as part of new coronavirus lockdown measures being imposed in both countries in reaction to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the disease. The announcements have been met with resignation and disappointment as it will mean further strain on the already stretched museum sector after nearly two years of sporadic closures and reduced capacity.

    Meanwhile, in London, the Natural History Museum has had to exceptionally close until December 27 due to an “unforeseen staff shortage caused by COVID-19” according to a statement on Twitter. It is not the only museum impacted by the crisis, as the Wellcome Collection and the Foundling Museum have also decided to close amid the virus surge, according to the Art Newspaper, although the U.K. government has not handed down any official instruction for museums to close.

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on the evening of Saturday December 18 that all non-essential shops, bars and restaurants would close until January 14. The ruling, put in place to protect the Dutch medical system, will mean museums will also close until mid-January, the logic being that this will give people time to get their vaccine booster.

    “I stand here tonight in a sombre mood. And a lot of people watching will feel that way. To sum it up in one sentence, the Netherlands will go back into lockdown from tomorrow,” he told the Dutch people in an empathetic address, according to the BBC. “I can now hear the whole of the Netherlands sighing. This is exactly one week before Christmas, another Christmas that is completely different from what we would like.”

    The latest lockdown measures mean that the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has been open for just 24 weeks in 2021. “Of course we had hoped that the situation would be different, as what we really want to do is to inspire our visitors with the life and work of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries on a daily basis,” director Emilie Gordenker told Artnet News. She added that the closure caused 12,000 ticket cancellations (tickets for the museum are priced at €19/$21).

    The Dutch decision came after Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen declared the closure of all public venues including amusement parks, theatre, cinemas, museums and art galleries until mid-January on Friday, December 17.

    “Our goal is still to keep as large sections of society open as possible. We need to curb activity. We all need to limit our social contacts,” she said.

    The announcements come as concern over the rapid spread and unknown long-term impact of the Omicron variant across the world. Austria has just emerged from its own circuit-breaker lockdown, which shuttered museums at a potential cost of “millions,” according to museum director Sabine Haag. In London Sadiq Khan announced a “major incident” while U.K. health secretary Sajid Javid refused to rule out introducing restrictions in the week leading up to Christmas. In the U.S., the president’s chief medical advisor, Anthony Fauci, has advised social distancing and the use of face masks in crowded places.

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  • January 04, 2022 8:58 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Hyperallergic

    The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York will mandate COVID-19 booster shots for all staff amid an alarming surge of Omicron cases across the country. The museum will extend remote work through January 31 for some employees, but frontline workers in the retail, security, and visitor services departments will still be required to work on-site and will receive a daily bonus of $50, according to an internal email to staff obtained by Hyperallergic.

    “As we prepare for the holidays and the weeks following, out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided that MoMA employees who work at the Museum and QNS [MoMA’s library branch in Long Island City, New York] and who can carry out their job responsibilities while working remotely may, with permission from their managers, work from home beginning December 27, 2021 through January 31, 2022,” said an email sent by the museum’s Human Resources department on December 22. According to the email, all staff will return to on-site work on February 1.

    The email goes on to announce that MoMA will be “expanding the requirement of being fully vaccinated to include a booster shot” within seven days of a worker’s eligibility to receive one (six months after Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two months after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Workers who are eligible to receive a booster shot prior to January 31 must show evidence of having received the booster by that date. Those who will become eligible for the booster shot past the January 31 deadline must provide HR with the date of completion of their first two vaccine shots before the end of January and show proof of a booster jab within a week of their eligibility date.

    COVID-19 cases in the state of New York have spiked over 80% in the last two weeks due to the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The number of reported cases in the past week was the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it has reduced its visitor capacity to 10,000 a day, slashing in half its average daily attendance during the holiday season, and suspended dining in its cafeteria to contain the risk of infection. Prior to that, the Metropolitan Opera became the first NYC institution to require proof of a booster shot from its staff, performers, and audiences.

    In an email to Hyperallergic, a spokesperson for MoMA confirmed the new safety measures, saying they were based on New York City’s Key to NYC COVID-19 vaccination mandate for businesses, which requires all staff to show proof of at least one vaccine dose starting today, December 27 (workers will have 45 days to show proof of their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; they are still not required to show proof of a booster shot).

    “Since our reopening to the public in August 2020, we have required face coverings for all staff and visitors ages 2+ in all indoor areas of the Museum campus,” the spokesperson added, also noting that the museum’s daily capacity remains restricted to below 10,000 visitors. 

    A MoMA worker in a public-facing position who spoke with Hyperallergic on condition of anonymity criticized the new safety guidelines as insufficient, accusing the museum of pursuing a policy of “sticks and carrots.”

    The worker noted that the museum had paid frontline workers the same $50 daily bonus at an earlier stage of the pandemic but has since stopped “although things were still bad.”

    The worker, who says they recently recovered from COVID-19, accused the museum of failing to safely address an alleged surge of infections among staff.

    “I informed HR that I tested positive for COVID and that I was experiencing symptoms during work but they never sent out an email warning other workers with whom I came in contact,” the worker claimed. “I personally informed them that I tested positive and encouraged them to get tested.” MoMA did not respond to these allegations.

    When asked how the museum could better address his safety concerns, the worker said that MoMA should follow the Met’s example and cut down attendance to “prevent bottlenecks and allow for more social distancing.”

    “I would expect the museum to just slow down a little bit and take density out of the equation, but I guess they don’t want to lose money.”

    “The health and safety of our staff and public remain MoMA’s top priority,” the museum’s spokesperson said in response. “We work closely with health experts and government officials to stay on top of the latest COVID-19 information and stay vigilant in our efforts to protect the health and safety of all.”

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  • January 04, 2022 8:54 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Artnet News

    How’s this for an early Christmas present? As the sudden surge of the Omicron variant leaves the world reeling, the U.K.’s department for digital, culture, media, and sport is doubling its current round of emergency funding for the arts to £60 million ($80.4 million).

    “We understand how devastating the uncertainty caused by Omicron has been. This new funding… will support the sector as we together face this difficult time,” Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer who approved the funding, said in a statement. “We’ve supported the cultural sector throughout the pandemic, and we’ll continue to do so.”

    Now, an additional £30 million ($40 million) is available to museums, cinemas, theaters, and heritage sites across the country through Arts Council England. The government has also extended the deadline to apply for the aid by an extra week, to January 18, 2022. Grants range from £25,000 ($33,500) to £3 million ($3.9 million), with limits for organizations that have already received funding in earlier rounds.

    The funding is part of a larger £1 billion ($1.3 billion) support package previously greenlit by Sunak, which also includes £1.5 million ($2 million) earmarked for creative freelancers impacted by the pandemic. The nonprofit Theatre Artists Fund and Help Musicians will each distribute £650,000 ($87,000) directly to freelancers, while the Artists Information Company, a charity for visual artists, will hand out £200,000 ($260,000).

    “Christmas is a very important time of year for so many of our brilliant arts and culture organizations who have now found themselves impacted by the Omicron variant,” culture secretary Nadine Dorries said in a statement. “It is absolutely right that we support them through this challenging time, which is why we’ve doubled the emergency funding available from the Culture Recovery Fund.”

    The government first issued emergency cultural funding in July 2020, with a £1.57 billion ($1.9 billion) bailout for the struggling sector. An additional £76 million ($98 million) followed in the fall, and £485.8 million (around $677 million) this spring.

    So far, the Culture Recovery Fund has distributed more than £1.5 billion ($2 billion) to around 5,000 organizations nationwide. The most recent round of funding went out in November, with £100 million ($134.5 million) split between close to 1,000 cultural organizations, including the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House and the London Transport Museum.

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