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NEA announces process for stimulus funds; Arts Relief and many others offer grants

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced its guidelines to quickly distribute $75 million in emergency funding to nonprofit arts organizations from the stimulus bill passed by Congress.

In addition, a coalition of national arts funders has created the Artist Relief program to offer $5,000 grants to artists facing financial emergencies because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Sara Blakely Foundation has announced it will offer $5 million in grants to female entrepreneurs whose businesses have been affected. And the “A Place to Perform” program funded by the Woodruff Arts Center has $5,000 emergency grants available to organizations that had to cancel performances because of Covid-19.

The NEA said Wednesday that 40 percent of the stimulus funds will be awarded directly to state and regional arts agencies by April 30 to be distributed through their funding programs. The rest will be distributed through direct grants that will be announced by June 30. 

In Georgia, those funds will be distributed via the Georgia Council for the Arts and South Arts. Those organizations are still formulating plans.

More than 3,700 organizations that have received NEA awards in the past four years and are eligible to apply for a direct grant. Funds can be used for staff salary support, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities costs. There are 70 arts organizations in Georgia eligible for these funds. The deadline to apply is April 22.

The direct grants will be for a fixed amount of $50,000, and will not require a cost share or match. Some local arts groups will be eligible for a sub-grant of $100,000 or $250,000.

NEA Chair Mary Anne Carter said in a press release that 5.1 million people are employed in the arts sector across the country. “In an effort to provide funding to save as many jobs as possible, as quickly as possible, these time frames are faster than the schedule used in 2009 to distribute relief funds,” she said. “We are doing all we can to help save jobs and keep the doors open to the thousands of organizations that add value to America’s economy and the creative life of our communities.”

The “A Place to Perform” program has grants for arts organizations that had to cancel performances.

The Artist Relief fund will distribute $5,000 grants to artists struggling financially from the pandemic.

The fund is also compiling an impact survey designed by Americans for the Arts to help identify and address the needs of artists.

To be eligible for a relief grant, applicants must be practicing artists who are experiencing dire financial emergencies due to the pandemic.

The Artist Relief campaign is organized by small and mid-sized national arts funders who have come together to offer a holistic framework of support. The organizations are the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists.

The fund launched with a $5 million seed gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to match an initial $5 million in funding provided by numerous foundations.

The initiative will operate through September.

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has announced that the A Place to Perform program will offer emergency grants of up to $5,000 for general operating support for organizations that had to cancel performances because of Covid-19.

The program has traditionally provided grants to nonprofit arts organizations to gain access to performance venues. Applications for emergency funds will be reviewed twice a month, and money should be received within a month after a grant is approved. 

Blakely’s Red Backpack Fund will make at least 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs. Applications are open, and grants will be available to businesses owned by majority women and nonprofits that have annual revenues of less than $5 million and have at least one additional paid employee. Sole proprietors are not eligible.

‘Twenty years ago, I started Spanx with $5,000 in savings and I see this as a time to pay it forward,” Blakely said in a press release. “Small business is the backbone of our culture. I know what it’s like to be a small business owner, and I want to provide some relief to these entrepreneurs during this time.”


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