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.



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.


CARES Act Guidelines available

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recognizes that the nonprofit arts industry is an important sector of America’s economy. The National Endowment for the Arts will award funds to nonprofit arts organizations across the country to help these entities and their employees endure the economic hardships caused by the forced closure of their operations due to the spread of COVID-19.


Challenge America application deadline cancelled for the Arts Endowment to prepare for distribution of funding from CARES Act.

For the National Endowment for the Arts to effectively and efficiently gear up to distribute $75 million in funding provided to it by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Arts Endowment must cancel its April 9, 2020 Challenge America application deadline. Challenge America applicants should apply for Grants for Arts Projects with a deadline of July 9, 2020. For more information contact us at


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 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.

Note: flexibilities and exceptions provided under OMB Memo M-20-17 expired June 18, 2020. In particular, costs associated with cancellations of events, travel, and other approved activities necessary and reasonable to carry out the award are no longer allowable. These FAQs have been updated to reflect the change.

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 Arts Endowment has very few prior approval requirements for costs, however you may be able to include costs for which we normally require prior approval. This includes adding indirect costs, foreign travel, or equipment costs over $5,000. All charges must be consistent with Federal cost principles and the terms of the award.

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 plus the cancellation 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. The costs of the 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 you intend to reschedule to a later date. This allows you to shift the project to a later time period and maintains the availability of your award funds.

Example: Your film festival was rescheduled from April 2020 to November 2020, but your original period of performance was to end on June 30, 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.) related 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 has been 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.

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 are in compliance with your award.

Example: Your project was an ongoing lecture series featuring famous authors. The project’s period of performance is from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. Events scheduled for fall 2020 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 fall, you could still utilize the other options outlined above.

7. My question isn’t answered here. How do I contact someone?

Our staff, while working remotely for the next several weeks, is available to you via phone or email, as usual to discuss your particular situation. You find the staff directory here: We welcome your calls and emails.


Research Awards application deadline extension. The Research Awards application deadline has been extended to help applicants dealing with the effects of COVID-19. See the Research Awards guidelines for more information.


The Arts Endowment is administratively extending the due date for submission of final report material for all grantees who have yet to submit their final reports for the 3/30/2020 deadline. This extension is for grants with periods of performance that ended on 12/31/2019.  The new deadline for submission of final reports will be 5/31/2020, which should give organizations time to assess submission options or request an alternative amendment from the Office of Grants Management. Impacted organizations will not receive formal notice of this change to your reporting requirements. For more information, contact the Office of Grants Management at


Will the upcoming 2020 application deadlines be changed?
The National Endowment for the Arts will continue to accept grant applications, but we’re evaluating our grant application deadlines and may adjust them to help applicants dealing with the effects of COVID-19 . All applications are submitted electronically through systems that are unaffected by the COVID-19 situation. 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 conducts panel reviews through our electronic systems and can do so at our offices and remotely.

What if our organization applied to the February 2020 Grants for Arts Projects deadline and 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 will be 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

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