January 8, 2021

League of American Orchestras Advocacy Update

In the shadow of the horrific events on Capitol Hill, the League of American Orchestras and its two-person Washington, D.C. office join the many others that condemn both this week’s assault on democracy and the perpetuation of systemic inequities nationwide. From individuals to elected leaders, each of us has a voice, role, and responsibility to care for one another. As we work together to shape policy and chart a course for the future of our country, advocates must remain actively engaged in civic conversations and the democratic process.

SBA Launches New Paycheck Protection Program Loan Process

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued initial guidance for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) COVID-19 relief provisions signed into law last month, including revisions to the loan forgiveness process and opportunities to apply for a second round of PPP forgivable loans. Today, the SBA announced that community lending institutions may begin making first draw PPP loans on January 11, second draw PPP loans on January 13, and that PPP will open to all other lenders shortly thereafter.

Given that the last day to apply to lenders for a new PPP loan is March 31, 2021, the guidance goes into effect immediately and also summarizes existing PPP rules that are continued alongside the new provisions. The amendments to the Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness process apply to future loans, as well as loans approved in 2020 that have not yet completed the forgiveness process. The SBA has also summarized plans for SBA Guidance on Accessing Capital for Minority, Underserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Business Concerns (PDF).

As a reminder, the latest COVID-19 relief package specifies that applicants will need to choose whether to receive a PPP forgivable loan in 2021, or a Save Our Stages grant. Orchestras do not need to own their venue in order to be eligible for a Save Our Stages grant, and complete details regarding eligibility requirements and the timeframe for the application process are not yet available. The League will inform you as soon as additional guidance is released.

League COVID-19 Relief Resources and Webinar

Please see the League’s overview of the latest COVID-19 relief package for a top-line summary of the $900 billion package that was signed into law on December 27. We will be adding details and links to official guidance as federal agencies issue more information about the fine print of eligibility and the timeframe for accessing relief.

You can learn essential information about the new Save Our Stages grants, second draws on the Paycheck Protection Program, substantially expanded Employee Retention Tax Credits, and other provisions in a League webinar, Newest Federal COVID-19 Relief Options on Friday, January 15 at 3:00pm Eastern/12:00pm Pacific, moderated by League VP for Advocacy Heather Noonan and featuring legal experts–Kyle Miller and Taylor Weinstein–from the law firm Pryor Cashman.

We encourage you to keep us informed of unanswered questions as the League continues to offer help and engage in the policy process. Please submit questions via our question portal.

NEA Releases FY22 Guidelines for Grants for Arts Projects

The National Endowment for the Arts has updated its grant guidelines for the Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) category, formerly known as Art Works. The League has posted the new Application Deadlines and Tips for Preparing Your Grant Application and will update both pages as soon as the Challenge America deadline and guidelines are published. The NEA website has gone through a complete overhaul, so if you’ve bookmarked pages in the past, some of those may no longer work. Program staff urge all prospective applicants to read through each section pertaining to their discipline and the grant guidelines thoroughly, as small details often change or are added each year. Also, it may be helpful to review the NEA’s FAQ in response to COVID-19. The first GAP deadline is February 11, which requires registering/renewing organizational information at SAM.gov by January 20.

New Year, New Congress

Policymakers are beginning the first session of the 117th Congress, and now is the time to contact your elected officials to establish an open line of communication well before votes are taken on key policy issues. The enormous significance of federal policy-making in 2020 has proven just how essential it is that elected officials know the needs of their constituents. Many priorities compete for attention, so it is key to be prepared and to speak with a unified voice across community partners whenever possible. Stay tuned for updates from the League throughout the year, as opportunities arise to urge Congress to take action in support of the arts in their states and districts. Together, we can make a difference!

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