California Arts Council

State of California

From the Director's desk
Funding for Arts Jobs -- The Federal Stimulus Package


Published: 03-13-2009

by Muriel Johnson

There has been a tremendous amount of interest from California's arts community in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the economic stimulus package that passed in February. We are all grateful that the proposed $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for arts jobs was reinstated in the final legislation after an incredible outpouring of support and advocacy for the arts and arts-related jobs. Congratulations to all of you for making your voices heard!

As I write, the California Arts Council (CAC) staff is finishing the application to the NEA for our proposed allotment of the $20 million designated for state arts agencies and regional arts organizations (for California, the Western States Arts Federation, or WESTAF) -- $502,400. This is a short turnaround during a week in which we've held our arts council meeting here in Sacramento, followed by a special reception opening the American Masterpieces exhibit of California's collection of magnificent Indian baskets, all the while preparing for the Poetry Out Loud finals to be held March 23rd on the Senate floor in the Capitol. Even during this economic downturn, exciting things are happening.

Responding to Inquiries about Eligibility for Stimulus Funds

There are four sources to which you can apply for funding: the NEA, WESTAF, the CAC, and local arts agencies that have applied to be sub-granting organizations. I strongly encourage arts organizations to apply to all four sources. An organization can only receive one grant, but you get four bites at the apple.

So begin collecting information on positions that have been lost, or are in danger of being lost, due to these difficult budget times. Begin making a compelling case on how these funds will strengthen / stabilize programs in jeopardy. How has your organization been affected by this fiscal crisis? Gather historical information on numbers of individuals benefiting from your programs, and number of artists employed. We in the arts field will be closely scrutinized and will need proof that the Arts do provide meaningful jobs worthy of preservation.

What we Know at This Time

  • Applicants for the NEA funds ($30 million) must have received an NEA grant during the past four years. The application is due April 2, 2009. NEA grants will be either $25,000 or $50,000.
  • WESTAF will most likely have specific fields targeted for jobs funding.
  • Recipients of grants from CAC funding years 2002-03 through the present will be eligible to apply for CAC grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 per award. We are working on a timetable to get CAC contracts disseminated by August, 2009.
  • We have little information regarding local sub-granting organizations.

We will have more specific information out to you once we know that we have met the NEA standards and are authorized to sub-grant jobs funding to California's arts organizations.

We all realize that the nation's needs are great, and the NEA's $50 million can only go so far. But it's good that arts' needs are being recognized and arts jobs are included in the stimulus bill. Many jobs will be saved.

More to come!




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