National Endowment for the Arts to Receive Funds from American Rescue Plan to Help Save Organizations and Jobs in the Arts Sector

Two dancers in red costumes and masks

The final pose of the Don Quixote pas de deux with dancers from the Cincinnati Ballet. Photo by Hiromi Platt.

Washington, DC—On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan which includes funding for the National Endowment for the Arts to support organizations and jobs in the arts sector that have been impacted by the pandemic. The $135 million allocated for the Arts Endowment in this historic legislation represents a significant commitment to the arts and a recognition of the value of the arts and culture sector to the nation’s economy and recovery.

The Arts Endowment is moving quickly to develop guidelines and application materials for the competitive funding process. The goal is to craft a process which factors in important issues such as equity and access and which will benefit as many nonprofit arts organizations as possible.

Additionally, per the Arts Endowment’s legislation, 40 percent of the $135 million will be directed to regional arts organizations and state arts agencies to be distributed through their funding programs. These funds and the 60 percent awarded directly by the Arts Endowment will not require cost share/matching funds from grantees.

Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers said, “I am grateful to members of Congress and the president for recognizing the economic and societal contributions of the arts, especially given the recent devastation to the sector. With the agency’s expertise in grantmaking, including with the CARES Act, the Arts Endowment will deliver assistance to allow arts organizations to reopen, to retain as many jobs as possible, and to help sustain the creative life of our communities.”

The arts community has endured some of the highest rates of unemployment. While the national unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2020 was approximately six percent, the rate for dancers/choreographers was 77.8 percent; actors, 47.6 percent; and musicians, 21.5 percent.

Based on an analysis of historical NEA grants data, the NEA Office of Research and Analysis estimates that the $135 million from the American Rescue Plan will result in: 
•    Support for approximately 234,000 jobs.
•    Reaching an estimated 107 million people across 1,000 distinct communities—23 percent of which are likely to be rural or non-metropolitan—through the organizations that are awarded grants. 

With a 55-year history of distributing grants to arts organizations, the Arts Endowment has significant expertise in distributing federal funds equitably and efficiently. In 2020, the Arts Endowment distributed CARES Act funding of $75 million through 855 awards plus 60 awards to state, regional, and jurisdictional arts agencies in less than four months.

Funding through the American Rescue Plan will provide critical relief to the arts sector, which is a key factor in the economic recovery of the country. Data derived from a partnership of the Arts Endowment and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, finds that the arts and culture sector contributed $877.8 billion, or 4.5 percent, to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2017 and employed over five million wage‐and‐salary workers who earned $405 billion. This represents a larger share of the nation’s economy than transportation, tourism, and agriculture.

Guidelines and application materials for American Rescue Plan funding will be posted in the grants section of the Arts Endowment’s website where information is also available on other NEA funding opportunities. An FAQ is posted here for questions regarding the American Rescue Plan funding. Information from the Arts Endowment’s COVID-19 resource page is here. To stay up to date on news from the Arts Endowment, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.


Victoria Hutter,