March 4, 2009
Yesterday, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was one of the first agencies in the federal government to release grant guidelines for applying for economic stimulus and job recovery arts funds. As you may recall, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act signed by President Obama on
February 17, 2009
provided $50 million to support jobs in the arts through NEA grants.
This recovery funding is a direct outcome of the hard work of arts advocates across the country. It is a major accomplishment that Congress included direct support for the arts along with increased funding for several other federal programs that can indirectly support the arts, such as Community Development Block grants, the Rural Development program and Transportation Enhancements.
The arts community is undergoing enormous challenges right now - like much of the workforce. Earlier this week, USAToday ran a front-page story titled, "Fine Arts Are In Survival Mode As Funds Dry Up." These recovery funds are intended "to focus on projects that preserve jobs in the arts."
On the NEA Recovery webpage, the new guidelines provide application dates, eligibility criteria and potential project outlines. In order to get money out to the arts field as quickly as possible, the NEA is fast-tracking the process. The deadline for applying for the direct grants is April 2, 2009, with grants being awarded as early as July 1, 2009. These direct grants will be available to arts organizations as non-matching one-time grants of $25,000 or $50,000. Local arts agencies are provided $100,000 or $250,000 for re-granting activities.
One immediate issue of concern for Americans for the Arts is that the NEA is requiring that any applicant for the direct grants must have received an NEA grant within the last four years. The agency has set this requirement as a result of direction from the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB). OMB has recommended obligating funds to existing award recipients as a method of ensuring that the applicant pool can be considered quickly and to ensure quality. Complete details on applicant eligibility and the rest of the recovery grant program are available on the NEA's Recovery website.