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CRDA grants helping entertainment projects take flight

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Without the $25,000 grant it received from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the popular Atlantic City Air Show might have been canceled this year.

“In 2013, that grant is going to be critical,” said Joe Kelly, executive director of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce. “It’s probably the difference between doing a show and not doing a show.”

Applications are now available for the CRDA’s community capital development and entertainment grants. Entertainment grants have helped underwrite the costs associated with events in the tourism district such as the Bay Atlantic Symphony, Atlantic City Ballet and the Atlantic City Air Show. Applications are reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Community Capital Development grants are offered nonprofit organizations that support open space development, seniors or recreation. Past grants were awarded for community gardens, recreational equipment for seniors and a computer lab for at-risk youth. Applications are due, July 19 and winners will be announced in October.

“These grants allow us to enhance some of the programs that are directly beneficial to the community,” said Ali Reynolds, director of community development partnerships at CRDA. “The entertainment grants allow more and more activities into the community. People come from far and wide for a lot of these events.”

Last year, the Atlantic City Air Show drew 908,000 people, including 429,000 from out of the area. Kelly said the air show will be more expensive to host this year: Because of the government sequester, the U.S. military demonstrations, which usually charge just a small stipend, will not be part of the show. Organizers now have to hire more commercial performers at a higher rate.

“The grant by and large goes to offset the performers and their fees,” Kelly said. “It is critical to have that cash component.”

Kelly said it costs about $1 million to put on the air show, though 80 percent is recouped through sponsorships and trade. The economic impact of the one-day air show, measured by the dollar amounts taken in through food, beverage, lodging, entertainment, shopping, gambling and transportation, was more than $42 million last year, he said, “a pretty good return for the investment.”

Applications are available at www.njcrda.com.

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