WORCESTER, Mass. - The EcoTarium in Worcester received a $75,000 grant Monday from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

"That money is going directly into our operations to make sure that are open,” said EcoTarium President and CEO Noreen Johnson Smith. “We’re here for the public, and that school groups and families can come in and enjoy all of the resources at the EcoTarium."

The council is giving grants to nearly 80 individual artists and cultural organizations in central Massachusetts to help kick start their recovery from the pandemic. The council received $61 million from the state legislature last year and so far, they’ve announced $51 million in grants.

"The creative and cultural sector in Massachusetts contributes about $24.3 billion to the state’s GDP, so it’s a huge sector,” said council executive director Michael Bobbit. “So it really supports the economy of the state but also it helps people feel better and it warms their hearts, so all of that is a reason why you should consider supporting the cultural sector. Either so go see an artist, go buy their art, go to their organizations, and I think we will have even more of a healthy vibrant cultural sector in Massachusetts."

More than 7,000 individual artists and 1,200 organizations have applied for grant money from the council.