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The National Endowment for the Arts awarded $44.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds to arts organizations.

Benjamin Sutton
Jul 1, 2020 4:38PM, via National Endowment for the Arts

The Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the 855 arts organizations that received CARES Act funds through the National Endowment for the Arts. Photo by Sean Pathasema, courtesy the Birmingham Museum of Art, via Wikimedia Commons.

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $44.5 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to 855 arts organizations located throughout all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The funds, made available through the federal pandemic relief package passed in late March, will go toward covering essential costs such as staff salaries, artists’ fees, payments for contract workers, and facilities expenses. The bulk of the funds are being awarded via 846 grants of $50,000, with another nine receiving $250,000 each, which they will in turn grant to smaller local agencies.

The $44.5 million in support for the nonprofit arts sector is a much-needed lifeline as many organizations (from major urban museums to smaller regional groups) struggle with the enduring impact of COVID-19. But it is a small fraction of the support needed to see the United States’ culture industry—which contributed $877.7 billion to the country’s gross domestic product in 2017—through this crisis. The NEA received more than 3,100 applications for the relief grants, with requests totalling $157 million—more than three times the funds available.

In a statement, Mary Anne Carter, the NEA’s chairman, said:

All of us at the National Endowment for the Arts are keenly aware that arts organizations across the country are hurting, struggling, and trying to survive and that our supply of funding does not come close to meeting the demand for assistance. [...] That said, I am enormously proud of the over-and-above efforts of the Arts Endowment staff to swiftly and professionally manage such a large amount of additional work in a relatively short period of time on behalf of the American public.
Benjamin Sutton
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