April 1, 2020

Dear friends and colleagues:

I know that this letter will reach North Carolinians who are deeply concerned about the changing cultural landscape of our state as we cope with the effects of COVID-19. I feel that anxiety, too. There is some positive news, however, that I want to make certain you hear.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) — a $2 trillion bill approved by Congress last week — benefits both our nonprofit and for-profit arts sectors in North Carolina.

For organizations: As part of the package, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will distribute $75 million in funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the United States. At least 40 percent of these funds will go directly to state arts agencies. In North Carolina we intend to use these resources as stimulus funding to arts groups and artists. The remaining money that the NEA distributes will be granted directly to local arts organizations and can be used for operational support — a first for the NEA.

Other aspects of the relief package relevant to the arts sector are loans through the Small Business Administration. Non-profit organizations, sole-proprietorships, and independent contractors are eligible to apply.  Some of these loans are “forgivable” to encourage retaining workers and function more like grants. (See the article here for a synopsis of these loan programs.) The Small Business Administration collaborates with 1,800 approved lenders to process loans. If you’re interested in securing one, get in touch with your bank to see if it’s part of this network. If not, you can find a list of SBA-approved lenders here.

For artists: Federal unemployment benefits are offered now to those who are part of the gig economy, and they include artists and other creative workers. The new benefits cover the weeks ending April 4 through July 31. In North Carolina, the Division of Employment Security administers unemployment insurance, so applications will be made through this agency. Keep in mind that patience may be necessary as federal guidelines are interpreted and implemented.

These opportunities are prompting many questions — and some confusion. Our challenge is pointing you in the right direction to seek and receive assistance. We’ll continue to collaborate with Arts North Carolina to give you timely information.

With gratitude for all that you do,

Wayne Martin
Wayne Martin, Executive Director
North Carolina Arts Council