National Endowment for the Arts Announces First Phase of American Rescue Plan Funding

April 29, 2021

At the end of April, the National Endowment for the Arts announced it is distributing more than $52 million in funding for state and jurisdictional arts agencies and regional arts organizations, in its first phase of American Rescue Plan (ARP) awards which are intended to support the arts sector in its recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Direct grants from the NEA to nonprofit arts organizations will be part of the second phase of ARP funding; guidelines and application materials are expected in June 2021 pending review.

State and Regional Funding

Whenever the Endowment receives a federal allocation of funding, forty percent goes to state, jurisdictional, and regional arts organizations for regranting through their respective funding programs; the same formula applies to its $135 million in ARP funding. Each state and jurisdictional arts agency and regional arts organization determines its own process and timing for awarding their portion (PDF) of the ARP funds, so prospective applicants should visit the states and regionals page on the Arts Endowment’s website for more information.

“The regional organizations and state agencies are critical parts of the arts funding ecosystem and they have deep connections with arts organizations across the country. Their knowledge of the arts and culture landscape in the regions that they serve makes them ideal stewards of federal dollars. The Arts Endowment is grateful for their continued leadership as the arts sector rebuilds in a way that works better for all arts organizations,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers.

Update on Direct Grants to Organizations

The remaining 60 percent of the ARP funds will be awarded by the Arts Endowment directly to non-profit organizations to help support jobs in the arts sector, keep the doors open to arts organizations nationwide, and assist the field in its response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Two sets of guidelines are expected to be available in June—one for arts organizations and one for local arts agencies that are officially designated to operate on behalf of their local government. To receive updates on the NEA’s American Rescue Plan grant opportunities, please fill out this form.

More information will be available when the funding guidelines are posted, but for now the Endowment has shared the following:

  • Eligible applicants for ARP funding are not limited to previous NEA grantees. This is a key difference from previous emergency funding opportunities.
  • Congress has charged the Arts Endowment to allow grant recipients to use ARP funding to cover general operating costs
  • Funds from ARP will help preserve jobs and support art organizations in communities of all sizes.

In the coming months the agency will conduct outreach regarding these new funding opportunities, especially to organizations that have not previously applied to the agency. Once the guidelines are posted, the agency will provide extensive technical assistance, including guidelines webinars, about how to successfully navigate the federal grantmaking process.

Before the guidelines are released, theArts Endowment encourages organizations to register or renew/verify their entity registrations with Grants.gov, and the System for Award Management (SAM). These registrations are free; however, they can take several weeks to process.  Please see the NEA announcement for more details.

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