The American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last week provides $135 million in new funding for the National Endowment for the Arts to help arts organizations hard hit by the pandemic. Sixty percent of the funds will be administered directly by the NEA, with the remaining 40% to be directed to regional arts organizations and state arts agencies to be distributed through their funding programs. Information about who might qualify for the grants and how to apply will be available in April.
This is the second large round of funding for arts organizations heading to the NEA, following $75 million that was part of the 2020 CARES Act. Last year saw essential money go to more than 100 publishers and affiliated organizations at a time when the coronavirus was putting financial pressure on many organizations. Though the outlook for the publishing industry has improved, with many publishers reporting a surprisingly strong 2020, additional support is welcome, especially for those events, such as literary festivals, that have had to cancel all in-person programming, which is often the main driver of revenue.
The American Rescue Plan also includes $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as $200 million in pandemic relief funding to be distributed through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
“I am grateful to members of Congress and the president for recognizing the economic and societal contributions of the arts, especially given the recent devastation to the sector," said Ann Eilers, Arts Endowment acting chairman. "With the agency’s expertise in grantmaking, including with the CARES Act, the Arts Endowment will deliver assistance to allow arts organizations to reopen, to retain as many jobs as possible, and to help sustain the creative life of our communities.”
Amy Stolls, director of Literary Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts, said, "Faced with canceled fundraisers and events, revenue shortfalls, staff lay-offs, and an uncertain future, literary arts organizations (presses, journals, book festivals, literary centers, etc.) have been coping as best they can and adapting to the changed landscape through, for example, new collaborations and expanded online offerings. This new funding will be tremendously helpful not just to ensure that organizations survive but that they continue to grow and reach new audiences and work toward a more sustainable and equitable post-COVID-19 existence.”