National Endowment for the Arts FAQs and Information for Applicants and Grantees in response to COVID-19
Please know that the National Endowment for the Arts is focused on, and closely monitoring, COVID-19 and its effect on the arts community. We stand ready to assist our applicants and awardees in the coming weeks and months.
Updated March 2021
Important Information for Current Awardees
If your organization has an open award and your Arts Endowment-supported project has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several options available to help you right now. Note that the information below is not an exclusive list, as each situation is unique. The entire Arts Endowment staff is here to help your organization in these difficult days. We will work with you to arrive at the best solution for your organization’s particular situation. While your discipline specialist or discipline director can help you work through your options, the Arts Endowment’s Office of Grants Management is the only office authorized to make changes to your award.
In 2021, to aid the arts community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress included language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) that allows the National Endowment for the Arts to change certain awards issued in Federal Fiscal Years 2019-2021 from approved project-based support to general operating support. For more information visit: https://www.arts.gov/grants/manage-your-award/general-operating-support-waivers.
For changes associated with items 2 – 5 below, award recipients are reminded that they must maintain appropriate records and documentation to support charges against Federal awards (2 CFR 200.302).
1. When can we request our grant funds? (National Endowment for the Arts Handbook, Section 3)
You may draw down your grant funds at any time. In all cases, your requests must reflect allowable project-related expenses already incurred (a reimbursement) and/or expenses expected to be incurred within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the request (an advance.) All costs must be incurred within the approved period of performance.
2. Can we redirect our grant funds to certain approved project costs? (2 CFR 200.403, .404., .405, and #8, 2 CFR.200.407, National Endowment for the Arts General Terms & Conditions 14.3.b)
You may transfer among direct cost line items in your approved budget without prior written approval from us. This means if your approved budget included salaries/wages or artist fees in your budget, you can direct your grant award money toward those costs. You must maintain documentation of all costs charged to the award.
The addition of allowable project costs related to operations during the COVID-19 pandemic that do not affect the scope of your project do not require written approval by the Arts Endowment. This may include but is not limited to costs such as disposable masks for patrons, added cleaning supplies, or temporary barriers to facilitate social distancing during your project. This does not include permanent renovation of facilities.
The Arts Endowment requires prior approval of budget changes if you are adding certain costs, including indirect costs or equipment that costs over $5,000. All charges must be consistent with Federal cost principles and the terms of the award. Please see the General Terms & Conditions for your award for further information.
3. Can we close out our award early? (2 CFR 200.403, .404., .405, .407, National Endowment for the Arts General Terms & Conditions 15.3)
You may be able to close out your award early even if you only completed a portion of your approved project prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If your organization has already incurred enough costs to cover the amount of your Arts Endowment award plus the required cost share/match, you may close out your award early. This is possible even if you have not accomplished everything that you planned. Reduction of the scope of the project is allowable. This enables you to request all of your grant funds and submit your final reports, even if some of your project activities are postponed or canceled.
Example: Your approved project was for the design of a new downtown arts park. Since the start of your period of performance, you have conducted community charettes, engaged consultants, and produced online educational materials. The costs of these activities total more than the amount of your Arts Endowment award plus the required one-to-one cost share/match. You may close out your award now without completing the final design plans.
You may be able to close out your award early even if you had to cancel your main project activity.
If your main project activity was canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still be able to close out your award early. Look back at your approved project budget and activities. Did you have planning costs? Did you hire artists? Do you have administrative costs? If the total of your incurred regular project costs equal or exceed the amount of your Arts Endowment award plus the require cost share/match, you may close out your award early with a reduced project scope.
Example: Your period of performance began on January 1, 2020, and the production of a new musical originally scheduled for May 2020 has been postponed indefinitely. If your rehearsal period and set/lighting/costume design costs incurred since January 1, 2020, total more than the amount of your Arts Endowment award plus the required cost share/match, you may close out your award now without the actual production.
4. Can we request an extension of our project’s period of performance? (2 CFR 200.308, National Endowment for the Arts General Terms & Conditions 14.2.a)
You may extend your project’s period of performance if your approved project activity has been rescheduled, or if you intend to reschedule to a later date. This allows you to shift the project to a later time period and maintain the availability of your award funds.
Example: Your film festival was rescheduled from April 2020 to January 2021, but your original period of performance ends on December 31, 2020. You may request to extend the period of performance to include the new project period end date.
5. Can we change the scope of our project? (2 CFR 200.403, .404., .405, National Endowment for the Arts General Terms & Conditions 14.2.a)
If you didn’t start your project activities or know you will not be able to complete any of your approved project activities, you may request to change your project. Your new project cannot be for just anything new as your project must still meet federal and agency requirements.
If you choose this option, we urge you to consider focusing the new project activities on planning for the future. Your new project could include planning for a future production, festival, conference, residency program, exhibition, or educational program, etc. It could be to develop a new strategic plan for your organization. Your new budget could include staff costs, artist fees, and administrative costs (rent/utilities/supplies, etc.) directly allocable to these planning activities. If you think you would need to request a scope change, please contact your Arts Endowment specialist to discuss potential alternate projects.
Example: Your approved project was a residential 2020 summer choral camp for kids, but it was canceled and won't be rescheduled. You may be able to change the scope of your project to a planning project to prepare for the summer 2021 camp.
If you are considering changing formerly in-person programming to take place virtually, such as livestreamed performances, online classes, or virtual visual art tours, you must ensure your activities are fully accessible to people with disabilities. The Arts Endowment’s Office of Accessibility provides recommendations for creating an inclusive experience for your virtual and digital events.
6. We’re not sure what to do right now. Do we have to make changes right away? (National Endowment for the Arts General Terms & Conditions 14; 2 CFR 200.308)
If your Arts Endowment award has a period of performance that doesn’t end for several months, you have time to assess your situation and make necessary changes at a later date. You may request a change to your project at any time during the period of performance. Your funds are obligated to your particular award and remain available to you as long as you remain in compliance with the Terms & Conditions for your award.
Example: Your project was an ongoing lecture series featuring famous authors. The project’s period of performance is from June 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021. Events scheduled for spring 2021 might not be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so you have time to wait and see what happens. Should you need to change your project in the spring, you could still utilize the other options outlined above.
7. Can our organization use funds we received from the Small Business Administration (SBA) as cost share/match for an Arts Endowment grant?
No. Federal funds are not allowed to be used as cost share/match for federal grants (2 CFR §200.306). In addition, the Arts Endowment’s enabling legislation does not allow any federal funds to be used as cost share/match for its grants. This includes the Paycheck Protection Program from the SBA, as well as other federal funding, including funding from:
- Corporation for National and Community Service (e.g., AmeriCorps)
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- National Park Service
- National Science Foundation
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Department of Education (e.g., 21st Century Community Learning Centers)
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Or an entity that receives federal appropriations such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Amtrak
Note that organizations are eligible to apply for Arts Endowment funding even if they have applied for and received funding from the SBA, provided the organization isn't double-claiming any individual's salary. Recipients will be required to keep documentation to show which employees are being paid from each funding source so that the government isn't paying more than 100 percent of a salary. Applicants with additional questions about SBA programs should contact the SBA directly as we are unable to provide guidance on programs other than our own.
8. My question isn’t answered here. How do I contact someone?
Our staff, while working remotely for the foreseeable future, is available to you via phone or email to discuss your particular situation. You find the staff directory here: https://www.arts.gov/staff. We welcome your calls and emails.
Important Information for Future Applicants
Updated November 2020
When will the next round of funding guidelines be available?
Guidelines for upcoming grant opportunities with submission deadlines in 2021 will be posted on Grants.gov and on arts.gov. Guidelines for FY 2022 Grants for Arts Projects are expected to be published in December 2020. Guidelines for FY 2022 Challenge America are expected to be posted in February 2021. All applications to the Arts Endowment are submitted electronically through systems that are unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. See here for the most up-to-date information.
Will my application be reviewed on schedule?
Yes. All of our application review panels are virtual. Panelists work and meet remotely. Staff conduct panel reviews through our electronic systems, and can do so whether we are in our offices or working remotely.
What if our organization submits an application and then later discover that we need to make a change to our project as a result of COVID-19?
Applicants should notify National Endowment for the Arts discipline staff of any significant changes in their project that occurs after they have submitted their application. Our staff will work with you to determine the appropriate course of action.
Will I be able to contact Arts Endowment staff?
Yes. Whether working at our offices or remotely, our staff is available to answer your questions. It is possible, however, that your regular contact may be unavailable. If you don’t get a response within a reasonable period of time, feel free to reach out to someone else in your regular contact’s office. Current Arts Endowment awardees can reach the Office of Grants Management at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grants. This is where to find grant opportunity Guidelines and application instructions.
Manage Your Award. Bookmark this page for links to resources and information about the rules, regulations, policies, and procedures to manage and administer a grant or cooperative agreement (award), including forms, guidance, and reporting requirements that govern your award. This is where you’ll find detailed information about requesting changes to your award.