$12M In CARES Act Relief Funds to 337 Local Arts Orgz

Photo Courtesy of DIAVOLO Dance Theater.


In a pandemic information ecosystem where uplifting news can be scarce, the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture (Arts and Culture) announces $12 million in CARES Act funds have been awarded to 337 arts nonprofits suffering from COVID-19 business interruption and closures through its LA County COVID-19 Arts Relief Fund. The awards range between $1,000 and $45,000, and the funds will be dispersed by December 30, 2020.

Most applicants said they would spend any CARES Act funds they receive on payroll, making this a significant investment by the County in supporting employment in arts and culture.

COVID-19 has had significant and adverse impacts on Los Angeles County’s arts and cultural sector. We need to help these arts organizations weather the storm. We all know they bring hope, well-being, youth development, and creative civic engagement to the communities they serve. They also have an unsung role in the County’s economy and serve as bridges to careers in the broader creative economy, said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Arts nonprofits applying for CARES Act funds reported more than $230.7 million in negative financial impact, including lost revenue and unanticipated expenses. A large share of those expenses is associated with facility costs and the costs of transitioning creative content and services online. In addition, applicants reported

  • 90% reported decline in revenues of 25 percent or more
  • 51% have had to lay off at least one employee
  • 83% said they will spend CARES Act funds on payroll

These critical funds gave us an opportunity to address the COVID-19 pandemic through an equity lens, allowing us to prioritize small and mid-sized arts and culture organizations—who are often in service of the County’s most vulnerable communities, said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. I am thankful that we could be responsive to nonprofits in this sector who continue to struggle in this crisis. It is my hope that these allocations will let them know that they are not alone or forgotten.

Supporting arts organizations immediately during these trying times ensures they can sustain these critical services they bring to our communities now during the pandemic—and once we emerge on the other side of this crisis, said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Second District. We need to lean into the idea that arts and culture are essential to our recovery, and put creativity to work.

Most of Los Angeles County’s nonprofit arts organizations are reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and yet are not eligible for other government relief like most for-profit sectors. Arts organizations are the cultural and creative backbone of Los Angeles and they face closures, canceled programs, and the loss of staff. This CARES Act funding will help them stay afloat and sustain our vibrant arts community in LA County, said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Third District.

These nonprofits aren’t just important to our economy, they are part of the fabric of Los Angeles County and we need them to be here long after this crisis is behind us. This funding addresses the immediate challenges our arts nonprofits are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will help them and their employees make it through this incredibly difficult time, said Supervisor Janice Hahn, Fourth District.

It has never been more important to protect in LA County’s arts and cultural infrastructure and the nonprofit arts organizations that are vital partners in ensuring access to arts and culture, said Kristin Sakoda, Director of the Department of Arts and Culture. By supporting this crucial sector’s survival now, we preserve the local creative economy so that it can thrive again. We support the health and well-being of our residents and the communities where they live. It is a challenging time, but it is also a time of opportunity, as we reimagine and uplift the role of arts and culture as essential to our communities.

To extend the reach of the relief funds to community-based arts organizations throughout the County, Arts and Culture coordinated with grantmaking municipal arts funders—the City of Culver City, the City of Long Beach, the City of LA, the City of Pasadena, the City of Santa Clarita, the City of Santa Monica, and the City of West Hollywood.

The funds provided relief to organizations that span disciplines, from theater and dance to visual arts, media, and literary arts. It includes a full range of micro-budget to larger institutions, and those with deep and culturally-rooted ties to the community.

Excerpts from CARES Act Grantee Letters

Your tremendous generosity will keep our Everybody Dance! students dancing in bedrooms, living rooms and backyards; collaborating and thriving amidst a pandemic that has severely impacted their academic experiences and family livelihoods. Thanks to you, we are able to provide families with the technology, training and resources they need to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and keep their kids engaged and moving online with teachers, friends and dance classmates.—Julia Miele, The Gabriella Foundation

In addition to helping residents navigate challenges and heal emotionally, our work provides access to the creative industry and connects residents to arts, heritage and culture and we appreciate your vision in sustaining our work. The opportunity to receive funding through the COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund is important to the survival of our organization. It allows us to preserve our artistry, our future, and our ability to help this community navigate uncertain times.—Marie Kellier, International Eye LA

Your grant enables us to continue our work, through music and dialogue, with ex-lifers in re-entry at Weingart Center, our program with Downtown Women’s Center, and our music program at the Midnight Mission. We also work with community members (choir members) in our Daniel Chaney Fellows program. Why is this so important to me? To say I am grateful to have a position in this beautiful organization would be an understatement. I am a graduate of the Midnight Mission’s Wellness Program. I spent 26 months at the Midnight after entering their program on May 23rd, 2011 due to alcohol and drug addiction. This is where Street Symphony and I connected.—Ben Shirley, Street Symphony

As we continue to adapt to this new world, we think back on DIAVOLO’s core values of trust, teamwork, endurance and perseverance as a roadmap to deal with this pandemic. DIAVOLO is committed on continuing to provide arts education programs to K-12 underserved students, restorative movement workshops for veterans and civilians, as well as creating socially-relevant work important to the County of Los Angeles.—Jose Hernandez, DIAVOLO

This grant funding will be used to support the salaries of valued staff who are working full time to provide online artist studio tours, conversations, school visits and art making workshops for K-12 students, senior adults, and everyone else thus demonstrating that craft does have a unique ability to create community even when we are not together.—Suzanne Isken, Craft Contemporary