Chairman's Corner: April 9, 2020

Jo Reed: I'm Josephine Reed from the National Endowment for the Arts with ‘The Chairman’s Corner’ — a weekly podcast with Mary Anne Carter, Chairman of the Arts Endowment, where we will discuss issues of importance to the arts community and a whole lot more.

The Arts Endowment has recently posted the guidelines to help arts organizations navigate the application process for emergency arts funding through the CARES ACT.  Mary Anne Carter is here to talk about some of features of those guidelines. But first, she wanted to share a little background about the work the agency did to develop them.

Here’s Mary Anne….

Mary Anne Carter: Well, first and foremost, I’m thrilled that we got the guidelines up about a month earlier than we had originally thought we would, and that really is a shout-out to members of our staff who worked around the clock and also then OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, who approved our operating plan within 24 hours, and not onlydid they approve it, they commented that it was impressive, it was organized, and that their staff was very appreciative.  So I take a lot of pride in our staff in being able to get that accomplished.

Jo Reed: I agree--it’s not easy.

Mary Anne Carter: No, no, it’s not.  It might be a world’s record.

Jo Reed: Broadly, Mary Anne, because all of this is up on our website, what are some of the features or the highlights of the guidelines?

Mary Anne Carter: So first and foremost, obviously we want to distribute these funds as quickly, fairly and effectively as possible.  So, we combined an easy application, no matching funds are required, an appropriate use of funds, which will be for saving jobs and other operating expenses, a manageable burden for our staff so we can effectively and efficiently process the applications that will come in, a streamlined review, and then expediting the awarding of funds. Our process balances the demands of all the different stakeholders here, and that includes thousands of the arts organizations across the nation, our own staff, and of course the U.S. taxpayer.

Jo Reed: From looking at the guidelines on the website, I know that only previous grantees are eligible.  Why is that?

Mary Anne Carter: Well, the goal here is to get the money out as quickly as possible, and so we have restricted the application pool to grantees of ours for the past four years.  That’s still a pool of over 3700 organizations.  But here’s the reasons why.  One, we know they’ve already been vetted through our own review system, by panel experts within the fields, and because of that process and that rigorous review, we know they represent a diverse pool of applicants that meet the criteria of artistic excellent and merit.  They represent all art disciplines and fields.  They are of all different organizational sizes, and there’s a wide geographic reach, all across the nation, and another big reason is this will provide a rational and a manageable pool of potential applicants for us, which is really important because we want the program to be implemented as quick as possible, and I would just add that there are other avenues of funding as well for arts organizations.   40 percent of the 75 million that we receive, will go to state art agencies and regional art agencies, and so applicants can apply there as well.

Jo Reed: I see, and will there be grants to individual artists?  Will they be made available?

Mary Anne Carter: There will not be grants to individual artists from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Congress has prohibited the Arts Endowment from making direct grants to individuals, except in the case of Literature fellowships or NEA Jazz Master fellowships and our NEA National Heritage fellowships, which is in the folk and traditional arts.  The literature fellowships, individuals can apply directly through our regular grant program, and then Jazz Master fellowships and the Heritage fellowships are awarded based on nominations from the public.

Jo Reed: When is the 40 percent to state arts agencies and regional arts agencies expected to go out?

Mary Anne Carter: So we have been able to move that timeline up along with all the other timelines.  So we had originally thought the guidelines wouldn’t even go out until the first week of May.  We actually expect the funding for the state arts organizations to go out by the end of April. And later in April, we will open the application portal, and we plan-- well, once the portal’s open there’ll be a two-week period for organizations to apply, and then because the legislation didn’t take out what our normal procedure has to be, we still have to go to panel.  But we’ve created a very expedited system for that, so we expect grants to be announced in June, the awards, and then the money will start going out the door in July.

Jo Reed: That’s great, and of course, all the details for the guidelines are on our website at,

Mary Anne Carter: Yes. And we also will have Frequently Asked Questions if an organization has a question, and of course, all of our discipline directors are available by email to answer questions as well.

Jo Reed: Well, Mary Anne, thank you so much, and I will talk to you next week.

Mary Anne Carter: Thank you, Jo.

Jo Reed: That was the Chairman of the National Endowment for Arts, Mary Anne Carter. Again, the guidelines for applicants for CARES funding—including eligibility requirements, application review, and FAQs are on our website I’m Josephine Reed stay safe and thanks for listening.

Music Credit: “Renewal” composed and performed by Doug and Judy Smith.

Chairman Mary Anne Carter talks about the guidelines developed by the Arts Endowment for nonprofit arts organizations to help them navigate the application process for emergency funding through the CARES Act.