CARES Act Guidelines: Grant Program Description

Note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Endowment for the Arts staff is working almost entirely off-site. As a result, we will not be able to accept and process postal mail and other deliveries in our usual manner. Because mail and other deliveries may be returned to sender, we ask that you not send us anything until the agency has resumed normal operations. We will update this notice as necessary to reflect evolving conditions.


Part 1 - Submit to April 22, 2020 by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
Prepare application material so that it’s ready to upload when the Applicant Portal opens
Part 2 - Submit to Applicant Portal April 27-May 4, 2020 by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection June 2020
Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance July 1, 2020

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. As part of this important investment, the Arts Endowment has designed a plan to expedite the distribution of critical funds to the national, regional, state, and local levels to help retain as many jobs as possible, as quickly as possible. These funds are intended to help save jobs in the arts sector and keep the doors open to the thousands of organizations that add value to America’s economy and the creative life of our communities.

This program will be carried out through one-time grants to eligible nonprofit organizations including arts organizations, local arts agencies, statewide assemblies of local arts agencies, arts service organizations, units of state or local government, federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, and a wide range of other organizations that can help advance the goals of the Arts Endowment and this program. Grants will be made either to organizations for their own operations, or to designated local arts agencies, eligible to subgrant, for subgranting programs to eligible nonprofit organizations (see “Subgranting Funds”).

All applicants must be previous National Endowment for the Arts award recipients from the past four years (Fiscal Year 2017-2020; see “Applicant Eligibility” for more information).

Support is limited to any or all of the following:

  • Salary support, full or partial, for one or more positions that are critical to an organization’s artistic mission.
  • Fees for artists and/or contractual personnel to maintain or expand the period during which such persons would be engaged.
  • Facilities costs such as rent and utilities.

The National Endowment for the Arts intends to make awards that will impact a broad constituency. This includes a wide geographic range and organizations that serve underserved populations such as those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

Grantees will be required to report on funding received through the CARES Act (see “Administrative Requirements” for more information).

Subgranting Funds

The Congress has prohibited the Arts Endowment from making grants for the purpose of subgranting, with exceptions only for state arts agencies, regional arts organizations, and local arts agencies designated to operate on behalf of local governments.

Under these guidelines, funds for subgranting or regranting will be provided only to local arts agencies that are designated to operate on behalf of their local governments or are operating units of city or county government. These designated local arts agencies generally are arts councils, departments of cultural affairs, or arts commissions. To be eligible to subgrant, a local arts agency must have received Arts Endowment support for its subgranting program during the past four years.

If a designated local arts agency eligible to subgrant proposes a subgranting program, the subgranting program must be consistent with the purposes of the program outlined above.