CT Museums – Kids Are Free Summer Initiative and Grant Program
April 30, 2021 • Features & News, Grants

April 30, 2021

Governor Ned Lamont will announce today that he is proposing to launch an initiative that will allow children in Connecticut to visit museums throughout the state free of charge during the upcoming summer months.

The initiative was included as part of the proposal he presented earlier this week to the Connecticut General Assembly to allocate federal COVID-19 recovery funding that Connecticut is receiving from the American Rescue Plan Act. This summer museum portion of the proposal is part of Governor Lamont’s larger plan to provide students and families with engaging summer enrichment and learning experiences in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the initiative, all Connecticut children aged 18 and under plus one accompanying adult can visit any of the state’s participating museums free of charge from July 1 to Sept. 6, 2021. It will be supported by a $15 million investment from the state’s federal recovery funds to the participating museums.

So far, Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport Museum, Beardsley Zoo, Connecticut Science Center and the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk have all expressed interest. However, in the coming weeks, all museums in the state will be invited to participate, pending the necessary authorization from the state Legislature.

Grants will be administered by the DECD’s Connecticut Office of the Arts in partnership with Connecticut Humanities.  Applications and funding guidelines will be available by May 15, 2021, on both the Office of the Arts’ and Connecticut Humanities’ websites.  The final distribution of awards will be contingent pending the necessary authorization from the state Legislature.

The program application is under development and is scheduled to open by May 15, 2021. Any museum in CT may participate in the initiative regardless of whether they apply for or are eligible for funding. Grants to museums that provide free admission for CT children and one accompanying adult will help mitigate significant loss in visitor revenue due to participation in the initiative.

If your organization chooses not to apply for funding, there will be instructions on how to register as a non-funded participant.

To prepare for the application, you are encouraged to start compiling the following information now:

  • 2019 budget that includes operating income and expenses (If you were not open in 2019, you will be asked to use 2018 figures to support your application)
  • 2019 visitation numbers, total revenue from annual visitation, and percent of your operating revenue derived from visitor admission fees
  • Information specific to visitation between July 1, 2019 and Sept. 2, 2019, including the total number of visitors broken into the categories of adult and child, and further broken down to reflect visitors from CT vs visitors from out-of-state; total admission revenue generated during this period, and amount of revenue generated by visitor category noted above. **Note if this information is unavailable, estimated data may be acceptable.
  • 2019 admission fees and categories
  • Plans for reopening in 2021 between July 1 and Sept. 6, 2021 (Labor Day)
  • Plans for marketing your museum this summer

For the purposes of this funding, “museums” refers broadly to historic house museums, historic sites and historical societies, as well as children’s museums, science centers and special-interest museums. Qualified applicants must have a nonprofit 501c3 tax designation.

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