Like many things during the COVID-19 pandemic, the arts suffered a severe economic impact.
President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan (APR) is coming to the aid of national arts programs, distributing funds to The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a federal organization that supports and encourages communities to become more involved in the arts. The American Rescue Plan supplied the NEA with $135 million; 60 percent will be used to support jobs in the arts, as well as nonprofit organizations, according to a news release.
The Delaware Division of Arts was allotted a total of $753,000 from the NEA for their own art programs. Paul Weagraff, director of the Delaware Division of the Arts, notes the impact of the relief is substantial.
“The arts sector is excited to resume live programming, and the Division is eager to assist them in this process,” he says. “This investment of federal funds is critical for artists and arts organizations not only to recover from the harsh fiscal impact of the pandemic, but also to renew their commitment to creating and presenting their work to enhance the quality of life in Delaware.”
Weagraff then goes on to say: “Available to arts organizations for specified operational expenses, the Division will develop guidelines in the coming weeks for applying, distributing, and reporting on those funds.”
“The goal is to assist arts organizations in sustaining their ongoing operations and assuming the costs of reopening to live performance and audiences in a post-pandemic world. Funding will also be available for individual artists to support presentations, workshops, research, and/or the creation of artwork,” Weagraff adds.
Weagraff stated that the main goal of the Division is summarized in its mission and vision statements.
“‘Supporting the arts and cultivating creativity to enhance the quality of life in Delaware’ to achieve a ‘future where every person and community in Delaware has access to, and appreciation for, the diversity, richness, and transformative power of the arts,’” he explains.
Victoria Hutter, the NEA’s assistant director of press, also emphasized the benefits that these funds will have. “We anticipate that these awards will make a significant difference to the national arts and culture sector,” she says. “This change marks a significant shift in policy and demonstrates a recognition of the tremendous need in the sector.”
Hutter says the NEA has a two-step plan to utilize the funds.
“[The] first [goal is] to help arts and culture organizations with crucial funding that will help them in their response to and recovery from COVID-19, including supporting jobs and facilities costs. The second goal relates to access and ensuring that eligible applicants in communities traditionally underserved by [the] government are aware of this opportunity and have the tools and resources needed to navigate the grant process.”
A top priority of the NEA is to find new ways to engage with the general public by offering workshops, question-and-answer sessions and opportunities to create artwork, according to a news release. The Delaware Division of the Arts helps the NEA reach their goal by offering diverse experiences of their own, which include the following: Poetry Out Loud, a podcast with artists, Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the Delaware State Employee Art Exhibition and more.
“The NEA sees this moment as an opportunity for the sector not just to reestablish previous operations, but to rebuild in a way that works better for all arts organizations,” Hutter concludes.