Daily Briefs

Michigan arts groups losing money amid pandemic

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan arts groups are struggling to operate as people divert their donations to needed services during the pandemic, community leaders said.

Arts organizations are dealing with the same challenges as restaurants or other businesses that need large gatherings to operate, the Lansing State Journal reported.

“We are concerned about the arts,” said Laurie Baumer, executive vice president at Community Foundation. “People are shifting donations to human services, but there is a consequence. We can’t forget other nonprofits that are vital and are not getting attention with charitable dollars, such as the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters and others.”

Williamston Theatre is one nonprofit that relies on consistently large crowds.

“We had to cancel the remainder of our season,” Development Director Emily Sutton-Smith said. “Box office sales are 50% of our income. Donations, grants and sponsorships make up the remainder.”

The theater was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, a federal small business loan that allows businesses to pay staff, mortgage interest and utilities for eight weeks. But the theater won’t open any time soon.

The Lansing Symphony Orchestra also received a federal loan, and some donors have been giving more than usual to keep things up and running, according to executive director Courtney Millbrook.

Still, the nonprofit must make up for lost ticket sales, which is one-third of its $1 million operating budget.

Most nonprofits that provide services such as food and medical and mental health are doing fine, according to several industry leaders.

The Greater Lansing Food Bank has been helping people in need during the outbreak and has received a large number of donations.


State Supreme Court looking at case tied to wrongly convicted

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court will look at another case that could help wrongly convicted people collect more money from the state.

Desmond Ricks spent roughly 25 years in prison before prosecutors in 2017 agreed his murder conviction should be  thrown out.

Ricks was awarded $1 million under a Michigan law that compensates the wrongly convicted for each year in prison. But he was only paid for 20 of the 25 years.

His first five years in prison were considered a parole violation.

Ricks said it’s unfair. He said he should be compensated for those five years — $216,000 — because the parole violation was related to a conviction that was ultimately erased.

The Michigan appeals court said no in a 2-1 opinion last fall. The Supreme Court said it will hear arguments in the months ahead.

The court recently heard a case that will determine whether the wrongly convicted can be paid for time spent in jail before trial.


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