BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Despite the recent uptick in COVID cases, live venues, theaters and museums are continuing with their reopening plans but that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear.

The “Shuttered Venue Operators Grant” aims to help these venues through the final stage of the pandemic. Nationally, $16 billion has been given out. Locally, the program has divided $120 million dollars among more than 100 venues across Maryland.

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The Baltimore Museum of Industry is using its cut to bring back furloughed employees and hourly staff. “The funds provide an essential cushion during a period we’re still transitioning back to full capacity,” said Robyn Murphy, the executive director of BMI.

The National Aquarium was closed for 109 days at the start of the pandemic — a major blow to an organization where 75 percent of its operating budget comes from ticket sales.

Jennifer Driban, Senior Vice President of the aquarium, said, “This grant has quite literally, you’ll hear it from all of us, been a lifeline for the national aquarium.”

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It’s a lifeline made possible thanks to the work of Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Kweisi Mfume

“All of these millions and millions of dollars that have flowed. Ben and I are going to make sure that there are more to flow. It is not over yet,” said Rep. Mfume.

All so that venues like Baltimore Center Stage can make it to that light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’re slowly but surely coming back,” said Robyn Murphy, “By September, it is our hope that we’ll be able to, with all the right conditions, open these doors again and invite people back into Baltimore Center Stage.”

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Sean Streicher