Federal CARES Act Funds provide relief to Arizona arts organizations

Contributed Photo/Courtesy David M. Player Center for the Arts

Contributed Article

PHOENIX – Across the state, federal relief funds are coming to Arizona communities to support nonprofit arts and culture organizations experiencing significant hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since July 1, 107 grants totaling $1.72 million have been announced. 

Statewide grantees include a performing arts center in Wickenburg, a symphony orchestra in Yuma, Prescott’s Museum of Indigenous Peoples, Phoenix’s historic Black Theatre Troupe, and community arts centers in Bisbee, Kingman, and Goodyear. 

A complete list of Arizona recipients of CARES Act funding for the arts is attached and can also be found at https://azarts.gov/news/federal-cares-act-funds-provide-relief-to-arizona-arts-organizations/.

These grants are funded through a $75 million allocation to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As per its central mandate, the NEA delivered 60% of the allocation directly to arts organizations in all 50 states, with 40% delivered to regional and state arts agencies for localized distribution. 


On July 1, the NEA announced 16 direct grants in Arizona totaling $1.2 million. 14 Arizona nonprofit organizations were selected to receive grants of $50,000, while local arts agencies in Phoenix and Tucson each received $250,000 for regranting.


The same day, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a regional arts service organization serving thirteen western states, including Arizona, announced their own CARES Act grants. Five Arizona organizations were selected to receive grants of $10,000 – $20,000.


Today, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, announced the recipients of its AZ CARES grants. Each of the 86 recipients will receive $5,000.

According to the Arts Commission’s Organizational Programs Manager, Claudio Dicochea, “Because artists and creatives are the engines that propel much of the value that organizations make available to their communities, AZ CARES builds on the foundation provided by the NEA in focusing on organizations that are centering or upholding commitments to creative workers — artists, makers, tradition bearers, educators, designers, and other content creators — during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.” 

He added, “In further alignment with the NEA’s stated commitments as well as our public agency’s mission, racial equity, geographic parity, and other dimensions relevant to access and community benefit were prioritized as part of the selection process.”

Ultimately the Arts Commission was able to support 55% of the eligible applications submitted for this relief opportunity. 

Dicochea acknowledged the many tremendously worthy organizations who applied and were not selected for funding. “This is strictly an outcome of the amount funds available to distribute through this particular relief program and is by no means a reflection of the quality of an organization’s programming or the depth of their need.”

Additional Relief

Late last week, Governor Doug Ducey announced that $2 million in funding from the State’s Crisis Contingency and Safety Net Fund would be allocated to the Arts Commission for relief-focused grantmaking. 

The Arts Commission is currently investigating conditions and requirements associated with the relief funding and exploring equitable, expeditious funds-delivery methods. The agency expects to provide further detail later this month.

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