Rock Island-based Quad City Arts was the only organization in the immediate Q-C to earn funding Wednesday from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant.

Like most of the 855 organizations funded nationwide, the regional nonprofit will get $50,000, on top of a previously approved $30,000 NEA grant last month that was unrelated to Covid-19 relief.

Metro Arts

Quad City Arts this spring did get Covid-19 relief funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, executive director Kevin Maynard said Thursday. Part of the criteria for new funding was that organizations had to have received NEA funding within the past four years, he said.

“When they opened up the grant opportunity, this is something we pay attention and look for, we opted to put in for it,” Maynard said. “Thankfully, we were selected and the project was funded.”

The funding will help the nonprofit absorb some of the losses during its shutdown period (between mid-March and May 29). Funding sources they typically rely on for things like the Visiting Artist Series shifted their priorities to more emergency relief funding, and front-line healthcare workers, “which we completely understand, but it does affect what we are able to offer in the future for our Visiting Artist Series, as well as a number of other programs, including Metro Arts,” Maynard said.

The 855 nonprofit arts organizations — in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — will receive a total of $44.5 million to support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities costs.

Kevin Maynard

Grants of $50,000 were made to 846 organizations while nine local arts agencies will receive $250,000 each to further award to arts organizations in their area, according to the NEA website, arts.gov. The NEA received more than 3,100 eligible applications requesting $157 million for the $45 million available in direct assistance. To review the applications, the agency used more than 200 application readers and panelists to review and score each application using the published review criteria.

The only other agency in the area to get this funding was the Princeton Theater Group, which presents the annual professional Festival 56 (including a free Shakespeare in the Park each summer, but not this year) in Princeton, Ill., an hour east of Moline.

In Illinois, 35 NEA grants were made (totaling $1.95 million), mostly in the Chicago area. In Iowa, five grants (totaling $250,000) were made, none in the Q-C area.

“All of us at the National Endowment for the Arts are keenly aware that arts organizations across the country are hurting, struggling, and trying to survive and that our supply of funding does not come close to meeting the demand for assistance,” Arts Endowment chairman Mary Anne Carter said in an NEA release. “That said, I am enormously proud of the over-and-above efforts of the Arts Endowment staff to swiftly and professionally manage such a large amount of additional work in a relatively short period of time on behalf of the American public.”

Mexico’s Beyond Mariachi was a Visiting Artist to East Moline’s Hillcrest Elementary in February 2020.

These awardees represent the diverse nature of arts organizations around the country. Overall funding is divided nearly evenly between small, medium, and large arts organizations.

In April, the agency announced the distribution of the required 40 percent of the CARES Act’s $75-million appropriation to the state and regional arts agencies for their granting programs. Each agency has its own process and timeline for awarding those funds, however, the Arts Endowment anticipates that together those entities will make between 4,200 and 5,600 awards.

From the beginning, the Arts Endowment has pursued both speed in making awards, and maintaining the agency’s reputation for organizational excellence, the NEA said. Just 12 days after President Trump signed the CARES Act legislation, the Arts Endowment posted guidelines for direct funding applicants. In less than three weeks, the agency had announced awards to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations. This press release marks less than 14 weeks since the legislation was made into law.

Mexico’s Beyond Mariachi was a Visiting Artist to East Moline’s Hillcrest Elementary in February 2020.

Arts and culture are a key component of the U.S. economy that contribute $877.8 billion, or 4.5 percent, to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2017 and employ over 5 million workers who collectively earned $405 billion, the NEA said.

This funding will help support those jobs and those nonprofit organizations during this time of great need so that arts and culture will persevere as a significant contributor to the American economy, the release said.

On June 10, Quad City Arts received $30,000 from the NEA as part of regular grantmaking, separate from grants related to CARES Act funding, among over $84 million from the NEA then

Mexico’s Beyond Mariachi was a Visiting Artist to East Moline’s Hillcrest Elementary in February 2020.

for 1,144 new awards to organizations in all 50 states.

Quad City Arts applies to the NEA every year, primarily for visiting artists, and that grant is focused on that series for 2020-21, Maynard said. The funding ranges typically from $20,000 to $40,000, he said.

It’s up in the air how Q-C schools will be operating this fall, Maynard said. The agency program served 24,649 K-12 students in the last school year.

“That’s the million-dollar question right now,” Maynard said of the 2021-21 series. “The focus of the Visiting Artist Series is putting residencies inside our public schools. So we are waiting for guidance from them. Regardless of what happens, we will have a Visiting Artist Series.

“We will provide access to content at the very least,” he said, noting many artists will not be touring this fall, and he’s had to cancel the artists who already planned to do residencies.

Normally, Quad City Arts would have the schedule by now for the following school year artists. “There’s a lot of factors at work right now,” Maynard said.

For CARES Act funding, it doesn’t have to be used just for Visiting Artist Series, he noted, and Quad City Arts will focus on improving the group’s digital offerings, including quadcityarts.com, its social media and YouTube channel.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.