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$1 million Arts and Culture COVID-19 fund to support nonprofits

The funding for this new grant program was made available by the City of Boston's allocated CARES Act funding.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture today announced the City of Boston has created a $1 million Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund for organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19. Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, the City of Boston in partnership with Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) have also awarded grants totaling over $280,000 to 515 artists as part of the Boston Artist Relief Fund, which was established to support artists whose creative practices and incomes were adversely impacted by the pandemic.

"We know that many artists and arts and culture organizations had to suddenly cancel their programs and performances as a result of COVID-19," said Mayor Walsh. "It's important that we provide them with the support they need to adapt and continue to share their work with the public, until we can safely gather in person again."

The funding for this new grant program was made available by the City of Boston's allocated CARES Act funding. The Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund will help small and mid-sized arts and culture nonprofits adapt their programs, spaces, and operating models as a result of COVID-19. This includes costs for finding new safe spaces for performance and rehearsal, adapting existing facilities to comply with public health standards, developing new capacities in streaming and virtual engagement, addressing issues of equitable access on digital programs, retraining staff, and other costs associated with physically distanced program delivery. 

"Providing financial support to arts and cultural organizations right now just makes economic sense," said Emily Ruddock, Executive Director of MASSCreative. "We know the creative sector contributes to Boston's economic productivity, a robust tourism sector, more livable neighborhoods, the development of young leaders, and community cohesion. We applaud Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston for protecting the creative sector now, in order to ensure it can support the long term economic and communal recovery of the city."

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the arts and culture sector, particularly performing arts organizations. Boston's arts and culture sector is a critical part of the city's economy and generates $1.35 billion in total economic activity, according to Americans for the Arts' Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 report released in 2017. ArtsBoston's 2019 Arts Factor report indicated that more than 21 million people attend arts and cultural events annually.

"We hope this fund can help mitigate the financial losses these organizations are facing due to the pandemic," said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. "We've heard repeatedly during our weekly calls with leaders of arts organizations and cultural institutions that there was a dire need for more funding support, and we recognize the need to act on this in order to maintain these organizations' essential presence in our communities."

Nonprofit organizations with budgets under $5 million, an organization address in the City of Boston, and the majority of its public programming in Boston are eligible to receive grants. Organizations must be able to describe how they have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Grants will range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the organization's budgets. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating and immediate effect on the livelihoods of Boston's artist community," said Boston Center for the Arts Co-Executive Directors Emily Foster Day and Kristi Keefe. "We were proud to partner with the Mayor's Office of Arts & Culture to fundraise for private support of the Boston Artist Relief Fund and we are thrilled that our community stepped up. Artists have always been a catalyst for change, and we need to support them now more than ever."

Applications for the Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund will open on July 7, 2020. More information can be found online.

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