Updates on COVID Resources, NEA CARES Act Grants, and Visas

April 10, 2020


Top Developments on COVID-19 Resources



As orchestras innovate to serve their communities in new ways in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, federal agencies, state departments of labor, and local lenders are taking steps to initiate relief programs that can support orchestras alongside the broader arts and nonprofit sectors. The League of American Orchestras is providing ongoing advocacy, technical assistance, and a dedicated Federal Assistance Center to help the full breadth of our membership navigate the changing landscape of opportunities to seek assistance. Here are some of the top developments from the past ten days:

Webinars and Legal Assistance: Two League webinars are now available to guide viewers through specific questions about how various forms of federal relief apply to orchestras and their workforce. The League is also offering member orchestras individualized technical assistance on the COVID-19 federal relief opportunities from qualified legal experts from the Pryor Cashman law firm. 

Paycheck Protection Program: Lenders nationwide began accepting applications for forgivable loans to cover eight weeks of eligible payroll costs, while the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration issued interim rules and answers to a growing list of Frequently Asked Questions. While some lenders began processing applications, others are delayed as they seek to build loan systems to accommodate both eligible organizations and independent contractors. Meanwhile, the Administration and Congress are negotiating over adding more funding to meet the overwhelming need for payroll support. The League has joined other leaders in the nonprofit sector in asking Congress to broaden access to the Paycheck Protection Program.

Pandemic Unemployment Benefits: State-by-state, departments of labor are rushing to create new systems to administer enhanced unemployment benefits for unprecedented numbers of unemployed workers. The Future of Music Coalition is tracking which states are prepared to receive unemployment claims from self-employed workers.




National Endowment for the Arts Releases Application Guidelines for CARES Act Grants



The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) includes $75 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to administer for COVID-19 assistance. Of the total, 40% of funding will be administered in partnership with state arts agencies, and the remaining resources will be delivered through direct one-time grants to eligible nonprofit arts organizations across the country to help these entities and their employees endure the economic hardships caused by the forced closure of their operations due to the spread of COVID-19. Distribution of critical funds will be expedited at national, regional, state, and local levels to help retain as many jobs as possible, as quickly as possible.
Support is limited to any or all of the following: 

  • Salary support, full or partial, for one or more positions that are critical to an organization's artistic mission.
  • Fees for artists and/or contractual personnel to maintain or expand the period during which such persons would be engaged.
  • Facilities costs such as rent and utilities.

All applicants for direct grants must be previous National Endowment for the Arts award recipients from the past four years. All grants are no cost share/non-matching and will be awarded for a fixed amount of $50,000. Eligible applicants include nonprofit arts organizations, local arts agencies, statewide assemblies of local arts agencies, nonprofit arts service organizations, units of state or local government, federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, and a wide range of other organizations that can help advance the goals of the NEA and this program. Make note of the April 22 deadline and be sure to review the applications guidelines, as well as Frequently Asked Questions




International Artist Visas



Orchestras in communities of all sizes frequently engage international guest artists. In the wake of COVID-19, policy solutions are needed as arts organizations and global artists pivot to reschedule planned performances. The League and arts sector partners are calling on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of State to implement immediate policy solutions that will support the future of international cultural activity.

The League hosts the website Artists from Abroad, a complete guide to artist visa procedures, where we are posting the latest news on artist visa policies.




Continue to Speak Up to Congress!



Your members of Congress are engaged in immediate negotiations over the next package of COVID-19 federal relief. Join orchestras throughout the U.S. speaking up to seek expanded eligibility for current forms of relief, new policies that will address unmet needs, and additional dedicated support for the arts sector through the National Endowment for the Arts. The League's online campaign center has talking points and a sample message that we encourage you to customize to describe your orchestra's needs. Many elected officials are holding virtual town halls, where you can also speak up alongside your community partners. Stay tuned as we continue to keep you informed of specific policy developments.