The CARES Act and the arts
Additional details have been released on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2 trillion bill signed into law last Friday. It offers benefits to South Carolina’s artists and arts organizations, and I want to update you on those.
First, though, it is imperative that we get your help by asking you to complete the five-minute Americans for the Arts survey if you have not already done so. The survey aggregates data for each state on the real loss that cancelations and closings will have on arts and culture. South Carolina needs more input to be accurately reflective. Please, no matter your size or reach, stop now and take the survey. You may also update numbers previously submitted.
Back to the CARES Act. I am happy to report it includes access to loans, grants and unemployment benefits previously unavailable to many independent artists or arts organizations. In case you missed it, this act also provides $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. State arts agencies like the S.C. Arts Commission will receive 40% of these funds to distribute. We do not yet know when we will receive these funds or have the details of how this grant will be distributed, but we will share details as soon as we know them. The other 60% will be distributed as direct grants from the NEA to local arts organizations and can be used for operational support.
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 beginning today, Friday, April 3. Some of these loans are “forgivable” to encourage retaining workers and function more like grants. If you are interested in securing one, check to see whether or not your bank is part of this network or find a list of SBA-approved participating lenders here.
Our partner the South Carolina Arts Alliance has comprehensive information available about Small Business Administration loans and grants and unemployment benefits for artists and arts organizations. To learn more or to become involved in further advocacy, visit the South Carolina Arts Alliance website.
Artists and other creative workers are eligible for federal unemployment benefits offered to those who are part of the gig economy. The new benefits cover the weeks ending April 4 through July 31. The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce administers unemployment insurance in South Carolina. Applications will be made through that agency.
For all these things, please keep in mind that patience may be necessary as federal guidelines are interpreted and implemented. Our pledge is to point you in the right direction for assistance. We will continue to collaborate with the South Carolina Arts Alliance to give you timely information.