NEA Offers Relief Funds to Help Arts and Culture Sector Recover from Pandemic

NEA Offers Relief Funds to Help Arts and Culture Sector Recover from Pandemic

Doors Open for Applications for American Rescue Plan Funding

Reprinted from | Published Jun 23, 2021

Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is announcing two programs to distribute American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. These programs are open to nonprofit arts and culture organizations and local arts agencies, regardless of whether they have received NEA funding in the past. This is a change from previous emergency funding requirements at the NEA and significantly expands access to federal funds for the arts and culture sector. The NEA encourages applications from first-time applicants, and will offer workshops, question-and-answer sessions, and other resources for those new to federal funding. 

The NEA received $135 million in the American Rescue Plan Act, representing a strong commitment from President Biden and Congress to the arts, and a recognition of the value of the arts and culture sector to the nation’s economy. On April 29th, the NEA announced that it was directing 40 percent of that allocation to 62 state, jurisdictional, and regional arts organizations.  

The NEA will award the remaining 60 percent of the funding in competitive grants to support jobs in the arts and culture sector and keep the doors open to nonprofit organizations and local arts agencies nationwide. 

“A primary goal for the National Endowment for the Arts is to incorporate principles of equity, access, and inclusion in its implementation of the ARP grant program,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “These efforts constitute a critical step in the agency’s engagement with communities traditionally underserved by government.”  

Welcoming Applications

  • The Arts Endowment is encouraging applications from a variety of eligible organizations including those:
    • That serve populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by ethnicity, economics, geography, or disability; 
    • With small and medium-sized budgets and from rural to urban parts of the country; and
    • That are applying to the Arts Endowment for the first time.

The NEA recognizes that some organizations face barriers in accessing grant funding. Staff is working to ensure that all applicants receive the support they need to navigate every step of the application and grant-fulfillment process. Arts Endowment staff are developing a suite of technical assistance tools including videos, webinars, and FAQs. These are posted on the Applicant Resources pages for arts and culture organizations and for local arts agencies subgranting with additional resources rolling out in the coming weeks. 

In addition, and for the first time, the agency will provide language access by translating key documents and technical assistance materials. Written translation will be in Spanish and Simplified Chinese and interpretation of videos and webinars will be in Spanish and American Sign Language. However, applications still must be submitted in English as required by government regulations. Translated materials including this press release, guidelines, FAQs and technical assistance materials will be available in July.

Funding Details

There are two funding opportunities available—one for arts and culture organizations, and one for local arts agencies to subgrant. Local arts agency applicants must be an arts agency that is a unit of city or county government or a nonprofit arts service organization officially designated to operate as an arts agency on behalf of its local government. All applications will be reviewed by panelists from around the country, including artists, administrators, and laypeople from diverse backgrounds. No grants will be awarded on a “first come, first served” basis.

Eligible organizations that received a CARES Act grant, funding from other NEA programs, and/or from other federal agencies may apply to either ARP program as long as there are no overlapping budget cost items.

Arts and Culture Organizations

To be eligible to apply, an organization must be a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organization; a unit of state or local government; or a federally recognized tribal community or tribe. Applicants may be arts organizations, local arts agencies, arts service organizations, local education agencies (school districts), and other organizations that can help advance the goals of the Arts Endowment.

Grants to eligible organizations can fund staff salaries, fees/stipends for artists and/or contractual personnel to provide services for specific activities as part of organizational operations, facilities costs, costs associated with health and safety supplies for staff and/or visitors/audiences, and/or marketing and promotion costs. 

Applicants will request a grant amount for either $50,000, $100,000 or $150,000. Cost share/matching funds are not required. Applicants should select a grant amount that reflects their overall organization size and internal capacity. The NEA anticipates making approximately 800 awards, although there is no pre-determined number of awards per grant amount. 

The application deadline for arts and cultural organizations is August 12, 2021. Read the organization guidelines for full details.

Local Arts Agencies 

Local arts agencies play a central role in supporting artists, enhancing the quality of life in their communities, and increasing public access to the arts. Through ARP funding to local arts agencies for subgranting, the NEA can greatly extend its reach and impact. 

To be eligible to subgrant, an organization must be a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organization or a unit of local government. Tribal entities and community organizations may be eligible if they meet the eligibility requirements described in the funding guidelines. Applicants must be an arts agency (“local arts agency”) that is a unit of city or county government or be officially designated to operate as an arts agency on behalf of its local government. 

A local arts agency must have a history of grantmaking that occurred anytime within the ten-year period immediately preceding this program’s deadline of July 22, 2021. The grantmaking program is not required to have been supported by the Arts Endowment. Additional eligibility requirements are described in the funding guidelines. 

If a local arts agency is allowed to make direct awards to individuals, subgrants may be awarded to individuals for artist fees/stipends to support the services they provide for specific programs and activities. 

Eligible local arts agencies will request a grant amount of either $150,000, $250,000, or $500,000 for their subgranting programs. Cost share/matching funds are not required. Out of the Arts Endowment’s fixed-amount grant, applicants may request up to $50,000 to support their own eligible operating costs associated with administering their subgranting program. 

When choosing a grant amount, local arts agencies should consider factors such as their organizational capacity and mission, potential applicants, and any unique characteristics of their communities. The NEA anticipates making approximately 80 awards in this category; there is no pre-determined number of awards per grant amount. 

Local arts agencies may not apply for both the subgranting and the organization opportunity.

The application deadline for local arts agencies for subgranting is July 22, 2021. Read the local arts agencies subgranting guidelines for full details.

For Both Organizations and Local Arts Agencies

Before submitting to, organizations must register or renew/verify registration with both and the System for Award Management (SAM). These registrations can take several weeks. Details on SAM and registration are posted on the NEA website.

To help reduce burden, there will be a 180-day extension for existing SAM registrations that have expiration dates ranging between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. This is intended as relief for those otherwise required to re-register during that timeframe. This does not impact entities registering with SAM for the first time. All organizations approved for funding must have an active SAM registration in order to receive an award.  

The Arts Endowment recognizes that the financial needs of the field far outweigh the available funds that will be awarded through these programs and encourages eligible organizations to explore the NEA’s other grant opportunities