The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
The United States Congress has unveiled a $2.2 trillion economic relief package – known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – which includes much-needed support for American museums and cultural institutions.
Scheduled to obtain $200 million collectively, and mandated to funnel operational grants back into America’s museum sector, are the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA and NEH closed their portals to new applications on April 22, and May 11, 2020, respectively. However, the NEH accepted grant proposals until June 12, 2020, with full details posted in the next section.
Museums should also pay close attention to the following loan programs and tax credits, presented in the CARES Act:
- Paycheck Protection Program (Small Business Administration 7(a) Loans: Nonprofit organizations with 500 or less employees may qualify for up to $10 million in loans, meant to cover operational costs and employee salaries. Partial or full loans will be forgiven, provided that certain guidelines are met. View the full details.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Loan Advances (SBA 7(b) loans): By adding an extra $10 billion to the EIDL program and eliminating credit requirements, this loan program offers advances of up to $10,000 to nonprofit organizations of 500 or less employees, just three days after application approval. Begin by applying here.
- Mid-Size Business Loan Program: As a forthcoming initiative by the Treasury Department, this loan program aims to provide loans to qualifying institutions of 500 to 1,000 employees.
- Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit: If your museum doesn’t qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, this refundable tax credit could offer up to $5,000 for each payrolled employee per quarter. To be eligible, certain criteria must be met including an over 50% loss in revenue and a significant decrease in operations due to COVID-19. Read more.
- Main Street Business Lending Program: As an initiative by the Treasury Department, this loan program aims to provide $600 billion in loans to qualifying small and mid-sized institutions of 500 to 10,000 employees or whose annual revenue from 2019 was below $2.5 billion.
IMLS CARES Act Grants
Through their CARES Act funding, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has created two new emergency granting programs for museums, libraries, and tribal organizations: IMLS CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries and IMLS CARES Act Grants for Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum and Library Services.
Combined, the total available funding is $15 million in institutional grants, usable towards retaining and training staff, supporting reopening plans, and purchasing and enhancing current technology, specifically to promote community engagement. These are the key differences between the two programs:
- IMLS CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries: Museums and libraries may apply for grants of $25,000 to $500,000 to support up to two years of operations disrupted by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
- IMLS CARES Act Grants for Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum and Library Services: Cultural institutions that serve and represent Native American and Native Hawaiian communities are eligible to apply for grants of $10,000 to $150,000 to cover up to two years of pandemic-affected operations.
To apply to either IMLS CARES Act grant or learn more, visit the grant application page on the IMLS website.
NEH CARES: Cultural Organizations
Using funding allocated by the CARES Act, the National Endowment for the Humanities formed a designated relief effort, NEH CARES: Cultural Organizations.
To apply before the deadline of May 12, 2020, candidates proposed short-term projects that demonstrated how a grant would ease their financial strain and assist with staff retention and hiring. This emergency fund will provide grants of up to $300,000 to institutions in the humanities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including museums, libraries, and archives. Selected candidates should have started being notified on June 15.
NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund
New York City philanthropists have banded together to form the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund to combat the impact of COVID-19 on local nonprofits – including museums and cultural institutions. Managed by the New York Community Trust, the fund raised $109 million from nearly 1,200 donors, and has nearly completed distribution of more than $72 million in grants from The Trust and $37 million in no-interest loans through the Nonprofit Finance Fund to NYC-based nonprofits.
To qualify for funding, your New York City nonprofit organization needed to have an annual operating budget of $20 million or less, before government funding contracts. Financial support was offered in the form of grants and interest-free loans to cover anything from offsetting revenue losses to purchasing software and services to facilitate remove work.
Visit the Response & Impact Fund’s website to find out more about this emergency coronavirus funding.
The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation
Based in New York City, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation has pledged $5 million to support artists and small art organizations. Spread across the next three years, the funding will be the foundation’s most substantial donation towards a single cause since being established in 2013.
For the first distribution round, a total of $1.25 million will be awarded, with $1 million going towards artists and $250,000 to a handful of small New York art organizations, which include Artists Space, Creative Time, Eyebeam, the Kitchen, the Laundromat Project, and White Columns. Additional funding projects will be announced as time rolls forward.
“The art world must galvanize to support both its artists and those that work every day at its museums and cultural institutions,” explained Clifford Ross, the board chairman for the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. “We believe this is the moment to step up.”
The J. Paul Getty Trust
On April 2, 2020, The J. Paul Getty Trust announced its intent to award $15 million in financial relief to Los Angeles artists and arts organizations, as grants of $25,000 to $200,000. Distributed through the California Community Foundation, The Getty’s pandemic initiative includes $10 million allocated specifically for small and mid-sized art institutions in LA, to help cover operating costs and lost revenue.
“This is a critical moment,” said Getty Foundation director, Joan Weinstein, to explain the Trust’s decision to mobilize funds. “We hear almost daily from arts organizations that they will be forced to lay off staff in the coming weeks, and we know that there will likely be no quick or easy ‘on’ switch that returns any of us to previous norms.”
“These organizations provide crucial access to the arts for all Angelenos and deserve the support of everyone in the community.”