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Published April 28, 2020

Virginia’s state-wide arts and humanities councils have received more than $1 million in federal funds designated for emergency relief to arts and cultural organizations affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, according to a joint statement by Virginia Humanities and Virginia Commission for the Arts.

The funds are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed by Congress in March. The $2 trillion aid package includes $75 million each for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Endowment for the Arts (Arts Endowment), a portion of which will be sent to state and territorial arts and humanities agencies to redistribute to nonprofit organizations in need.

Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Commission for the Arts are distributing these funds as quickly as possible to community arts and humanities nonprofit organizations across the state.

Application information and eligibility requirements are now available on VirginiaHumanities.org and Arts.Virginia.gov. The deadline for museums, historic sites, and educational and cultural institutions to apply to Virginia Humanities is April 30 and the deadline for arts agencies to apply to the Virginia Commission for the Arts is May 8.

Virginia arts and cultural organizations can also apply directly to the NEH and the Arts Endowment for aid of up to $300,000 (NEH) and $50,000 (Arts Endowment).

Matthew Gibson, Virginia Humanities’ executive director says arts and cultural agencies across Virginia need these funds. “Museums and historic sites are really struggling right now,” says Gibson. “We surveyed our partners across the state and more than 200 responded that they are facing serious financial hardships as a result of lack of attendance and cancelled events due to COVID-19.”

Janet Starke, the executive director at the Virginia Commission for the Arts says the arts and humanities are vital to helping us cope with this crisis. “It’s through our individual creative expression and our shared culture and history that we know who we are,” says Starke. “Even now, people are using the literary, visual, and performing arts in incredibly creative ways to help us all get through this crisis.”

Don Beyer, Representative of Virginia’s 8th congressional district said, “Every expression of our culture adds to our economy.” A recent report provided by Beyer from the congressional Joint Economic Committee states that the arts and culture sectors account for approximately 4.5% of the U.S. gross domestic product. That’s more than construction, transportation, or agriculture.

Here in Virginia, more than 300 individuals registered for a joint webinar by Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Commission for the Arts on Friday April 24th about CARES Act funding opportunities, indicating the need across the commonwealth is great.

Quotes from Virginia Legislators

“Virginia’s local arts and humanities nonprofits – and the thousands of Virginians who work for them – are irreplaceable members of our communities, particularly in a time of uncertainty. Congress’ intent in passing the CARES Act was to provide a lifeline to the workers, businesses, and organizations that keep our economy growing and our communities strong during this time of crisis. I am heartened that some of this funding will be used to support the organizations and staff that make our local Virginia communities richer, stronger, and more connected. This funding will help cover critical operating costs like salaries, rent, and utilities in a moment of unprecedented challenges — and I’d like to thank Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Commission for the Arts for their commitment to the wellbeing of their fellow Virginians during this difficult time.” — Abigail Anne Davis Spanberger, Congressional Representative for Virginia’s 7th district

“Life inevitably includes many struggles, and it is through the arts and humanities that we find our way through. With every lyric, every essay, every watercolor, every one-act play, and every arpeggio, Virginia becomes a richer, more fulfilling home for us all. Every expression of our culture adds to our economy.” – Don Beyer, Congressional Representative for Virginia’s 8th district

“In challenging times like these, the arts bring us closer together and remind us of our shared humanity. They brighten the darker days and give us hope for better ones to come. I was proud to support funding in the CARES Act to help humanities organizations continue to operate, and I am immensely grateful for the joy and optimism Northern Virginia’s creative community continues to bring our entire region.” – Gerry E. Connolly, Congressional Representative for Virginia’s 11th district


About Virginia Humanities
Virginia Humanities is the state humanities council. We aim to tell the stories of all Virginians—or, better yet, find ways for people to tell their own stories. We want to connect Virginians with their history and culture and, in doing that, help bring us all a bit closer together. Virginia Humanities is headquartered in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia, but our work covers the Commonwealth. Founded in 1974, we are one of fifty-six organizations created by the National Endowment for the Humanities to make the humanities available to all Americans. To learn more visit VirginiaHumanities.org.

About Virginia Commission for the Arts

The Virginia Commission for the Arts is the state agency that supports the arts through funding from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Commission, which was created in 1968, is guided by 13 Commissioners appointed to five-year terms by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. To ensure statewide representation, at least one Commissioner — and no more than two — is appointed from each Congressional district. A full-time staff of 5 implements programs and policies. The Commission is assisted by a statewide network of advisory (grants) panelists.

Virginia Commission for the Arts supports artistic excellence and encourages growth in artistic quality for the benefit of all Virginians.

Our work brings people together and honors our shared humanity.

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