NEA gains new funding for the arts

Organization sets guidelines for grant program

WASHINGTON — Flush with new funding to help preserve arts-related jobs during the economic recession, the National Endowment for the Arts has issued guidelines for use by nonprofit groups seeking to participate in the grant program.

Fiscal-year funding for the Arts and Humanities Endowments, included in a separate omnibus funding bill, was approved by Congress this week. President Obama said Wednesday that he would sign the bill despite some 8,500 controversial spending provisions labeled “earmarks.”

The funding bill allocates $155 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for the current fiscal year, an increase of $10 million from last year.

The supplemental funding reps an important windfall for arts orgs and a clear victory for advocacy groups that vigorously lobbied Capitol Hill through 2008.

“The arts community truly came together around the stimulus package and the omnibus funding bill,” said Robin Bronk, exec director of the Creative Coalition.

The NEA said grants to arts orgs will be implemented on an expedited timeline to help get funds to communities quickly and avoid unnecessary job losses.

The move follows last month’s inclusion of $50 million in an economic stimulus package that will help nonprofits support and sustain jobs in the arts. Provisions stipulate that 60% of the funding be distributed through competitive grants issued by the NEA, the remaining 40% via state arts agencies.

Conservative Republicans and other lawmakers had denounced the arts provisions as gifts for a leftist elite that did not belong in an emergency stimulus bill.

Bronk said the next goal for arts advocacy groups is to win restoration of arts and humanities endowment funding to its previous levels of $176 million.

The NEA said its direct grants under the bill will be available to nonprofit arts orgs including local arts agencies, statewide assemblies of local arts agencies, arts service organizations and other arts orgs. To qualify, applicants must have received NEA funding during the last four years.

In addition, applicants can receive funds only through one source — from the Arts Endowment directly, or from a state arts agency, a regional arts org or a local arts agency eligible to regrant.

To ensure that funding is targeted specifically to arts jobs, applications will be required to address salary support and contractual fees. Projects may support full or partial salaries for one or more positions that are critical to an org’s artistic mission and that are in jeopardy or have been eliminated as a result of the current economic climate.

Applications from nonprofit arts orgs must be submitted to the NEA by April 2. Awards will be announced in July.

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