Arts Council launches $10M restart fund for local arts not-for-profits

The Arts Council of Indianapolis on Wednesday announced a $10.2 million grant program for arts and cultural organizations struggling to resume programming after pandemic-related closures

The Indy Arts & Culture Restart & Resilience Fund, underwritten by Lilly Endowment Inc., will provide eligible entities with one-time grants ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 to cover capital and operating expenses associated with their respective reopening strategies.

The grants are earmarked for operations who are following guidance from federal, state and local health officials, and will help groups implement physical distancing, reduced capacities and virtual presentations. The money will cover new equipment, supplies and materials, professional services, programming modifications, staffing, and physical environment changes.

“This fund represents a crucial investment in our arts and cultural community to imagine a new world that is safer, stronger, and more inclusive, equitable, and accessible,” Julie Goodman, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Indianapolis, said in written remarks. “It also represents our unwavering belief in the role of arts and culture to help us emerge from this pandemic as a more compassionate, just and united society.”

The grants are open to most not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations based in Indianapolis or Marion County that have a minimum annual budget of $20,000. Applications will open July 13 on the Arts Council’s website, www.indyarts.org.

The Restart & Resilience Fund accounts for a portion of the dollars that the council estimates will be required to restart the local arts and culture scene—expected to be “well over $20 million.” Local organizations are losing about $8.6 million per month because of COVID-19, with projected losses expected to hit $50 million by the end of the summer, the council said.

The organization determined through surveys and assessments that nearly 20,000 closures and events have been canceled since March, with that figure expected to rise to 30,000 by September.

The Arts Council estimates more than half of the sector’s local workforce of about 30,000 people has been furloughed or lost jobs.

While many organizations have managed to secure funding through the federal CARES Act programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program and other Small Business Administration programs, others have had to rely on reserve funds and make cuts to their staffs and operating budgets.

Goodman said she is grateful for the Lilly Endowment’s “leadership and generous support to help catalyze reopening and resilience across our sector.”

Not-for-profit arts and culture groups in central Indiana generate more than $440 million in annual economic impact, according to research by Americans for the Arts.

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