Vermont arts, cultural organizations project millions in losses from COVID-19

Applications accepted until May 31 for arts and humanities grant program

In the two weeks since a new joint emergency relief fund for Vermont arts and cultural organizations was created, more than 100 museums, performing arts venues, libraries and other cultural centers have applied, collectively projecting an estimated $13.9 million shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first round of funding for the COVID-19 Cultural Relief Grant program awarded $195,000 in aid to 28 cultural organizations.

The grants, jointly administered by the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities, provides $5,000 to $10,000, depending on organization size, for general operating expenses.

The deadline for applying is May 31, but awards are made on a rolling basis until available funds have been distributed.

The program is seeded by more than $700,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

“The first 100 applications we've received illustrate the devastating impact that COVID-19 has already had on a community theater or a museum that is shut down, and will see absolutely no revenue for the spring or summer season,” said Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman in a news release. “Many of these organizations are struggling for survival.”

Vermont's arts and culture sector provides more than 40,000 jobs annually and comprises 9.3 percent of all employment in Vermont, higher than the national average.

The grant, which does not require a match, aims to fund a diverse range of organizations of different disciplines, geographic locations, and backgrounds.

The grant application takes about 30 minutes to complete and is evaluated “based on demonstrated need rather than on a polished application,” according to the news release.

The Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities are also continuing to work with Vermont's Congressional delegation to advocate for more emergency funding for the arts and humanities sector.

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