Maine Arts & Culture Sector Can Prepare for the Caronavirus

  • March 27, 2020


National Endowment for the Arts - Resources for Artists & Arts Organizations and FAQ

Americans for the Arts - Resource and Response Center

ArtsEngageME - Maine Artist Relief Fund - COVID-19 General Resources and Information

Creative Portland - Artist Relief Fund 

Freelance Artist Resources

TAKE THE IMPACT SURVEYS - This will give us a strong foundation as we promote the inclusion of the arts and culture sector in any stimulus package options and other Federal relief measures.

SURVEY FOR ORGANIZATIONS                                                  SURVEY FOR ARTISTS


Updated March 27, 2020 - 9:28 a.m.  


Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are the first line of defense in helping cultural organizations (and really all businesses) survive COVID-19. The federal government has put together $350 billion to keep Americans employed and businesses alive during this pandemic.

While our cultural impact survey indicates that our members prefer grants over loans, we recommend you start with SBA loans first and put in an application if your organization is danger of cutting staff or salaries.

  1. Size of loans: Up to $10 million per loan is available. Amount is likely to be based on average monthly payroll cost over the past year multiplied by 2.5.
  2. Who can apply: businesses below 500 employees including nonprofits, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals (like individual artists)
  3. Permitted uses: cover payroll costs, utilities, mortgage/rent, and other operations
  4. Forgiveness: The principal (so minus interest) on the loans can be forgiven if used for the permitted purposes. See below for formulas related to forgiveness.
  5. Rates: 3.75% for most; 2.75% for nonprofits
  6. Which types of loan are forgivable: we believe forgivability applies to both 7(a) and disaster loans. Stay tuned.
  7. When to apply: Approval takes 3-5 weeks. If you are desperately short on cash now put in an application ASAP. If you can wait until next week when UCA has more information, then wait. Various UT cities and counties have quick funding (most in the form of SBA loans) available now.

Information and application>>

Forgiveness: Principal of loan is forgivable based on the two calculations below (subject to change):

The idea is to help small businesses retain workers while the economy largely shuts down to fight the spread of the COVID-19 disease. That would allow companies to reopen quickly once the contagion countermeasures are lifted, while keeping employees financially stable. If a firm cuts workers or reduces their pay, the amount forgivable would be reduced proportionately.

  1. Employee Count Ratio.  Forgivable amount = (Principal) x (Average employees per month during the eight weeks following the loan date) / [(Average employees per month from Feb. 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019) OR (Average employees per month from Jan. 1, 2020 to Feb. 29, 2020)]
    1. Intent of legislation is to preserve jobs so loan will only be forgiven if company is keeping employees.
    2. Denominator is at election of recipient so they can choose whichever average results in a higher ratio.
  1. Salary Reduction. Forgivable amount decrease = (Amount salaries for employees earning less than $100K is reduced during the eight-week period after the loan) – (25% of those employees’ salaries during the prior quarter). 
    1. In sum, salary reductions in excess of 25% will decrease the forgivable amount.
    2. Closing the loophole of companies keeping headcount high but cutting salaries.

Forgiven debt is usually treated as income for tax purposes, but that would likely not apply to loans under this program, thereby keeping participating companies from being saddled with a larger tax bill next year.

Required Paperwork

The CARE Act would waive most of the SBA’s usual paperwork requirements and other prerequisites to speed the money into entrepreneurs’ hands. Borrowers making a good-faith statement are presumed eligible for the loans, which are limited to companies that have seen their business dry up or stop completely due to COVID-19.

Most of the paperwork would come at the end: Companies would need to prove they actually needed the loans and used them as intended when they apply for debt forgiveness.


Updated March 26, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.  

Senate Stimulus Package Includes Emergency Relief for Nonprofit Cultural Organizations

The United States Senate is set to vote on an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus package tonight in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Once it passes the Senate, the House will need at least 24 hours to review the bill, but the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is indicating that she's optimistic that the bill will pass in the House as well.  This bill has a strong focus on workers, paid sick leave, and support for impacted industries, including the arts and humanities. 

Thank you for responding to our Action Alerts over the last week and for sending thousands of messages to Congress with stories of how the arts have been impacted in your communities. Your voices were heard!  Here are some top line items that will support the nonprofit arts and humanities industry that were included in the Senate Stimulus bill. Look for a more detailed legislative update from Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund jointly tomorrow.

  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to quickly award "general operating grants with no match requirements" to nonprofit and governmental arts agencies across the country, with 40% going to state arts agencies for regranting in their states.
  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (similar directives as NEA).
  • $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • $25 million for the Kennedy Center, which President Trump did a good job of defending during his nightly press conference tonight.

Remember, nothing is final until the same version of the bill passes in both chambers and is signed into law by the President, which is likely to happen by the end of this week.  There are many more grant and loan opportunities for nonprofits and individual artists in different parts of the bill such as the Small Business Administration, Community Development Block Grants, and the Economic Development Administration.  More details to come soon. 


Updated March 23, 2020 - 5:33 p.m.  

COVID-19 Arts Federal Policy Update - Americans for the Arts 

Negotiations are ongoing in the Senate on what is being called "Phase Three" of the COVID-19 response relief package. As you unfortunately know, the coronavirus has already had a devastating economic impact on America’s nonprofit arts sector—financial losses to date are estimated to be $3.6 billion.

The U.S. Senate legislation under consideration today has several items we've been asking for—your advocacy has been working! For example, there is some funding for the NEA, but it's not enough. Self-employed artists, creative workers, and nonprofits appear to be included in the Paycheck Protection and Small Business Administration disaster loan provisions, but we need to ensure they are included in the final bill version. More advocacy is needed.    

In order to support the sector at this vital time, request that your members of Congress include the following in the current legislative package currently being negotiated:

  • Support $4 billion in COVID-19 relief funding to be administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—House Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and House STEAM Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) led a letter to House Leadership with this ask, Senate Cultural Caucus Co-Chair Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) did the same in the Senate. Waive matching requirements and general operating support reprogramming for FY2020 grantees, as well as for COVID-19-specific grantmaking;
  • Encourage charitable giving by increasing the allowable amount of the proposed $300 above-the-line tax deduction available to taxpayers that do not itemize their returns, and removing AGI limits on allowed deductions for charitable giving;
  • Ensure that proposed forgivable SBA disaster relief loans support all arts and culture workers by: specifying that access to forgivable loans is available for self-employed workers, increasing the employer eligibility threshold by applying the 500 employee cap to fulltime employees, and eliminating the employer size cap for nonprofit organizations;
  • Support pandemic unemployment benefits for workers ineligible for state unemployment benefits, which will provide essential support for self-employed workers in the arts and culture sector; and 
  • Ensure arts eligibility for additional forms of disaster relief, such as Community Development Block Grants, education and lifelong learning programs, and health and wellness initiatives. 

In a national survey by Americans for the Arts, 91% of responding arts organizations indicated that they have cancelled one or more events. Many arts organizations have closed their doors for months to come. These estimates are based on more than 5,000 respondents to an Americans for the Arts nationwide COVID-19 impact survey, and then further extrapolation of those data nationally using IRS data about nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. The most recent figures show economic losses of $3.6 billion to date, up from $3.2 billion last week. The survey is ongoing, and these figures will be updated regularly. Given that losses documented in the survey have occurred only in the last two months, Americans for the Arts anticipates additional billions in potential revenue losses for the nonprofit arts and culture field.

Join us in calling on Congress NOW to include the aforementioned items in the final package for COVID-19 relief.

Maine Arts Commission Grant Deadlines Extended to April 2020

The Maine Arts Commission is working with local, state, and federal officials in the effort to navigate the COVID-19 health emergency. Due to the uncertainty of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are extending the upcoming grant deadlines by one into April of 2020. The new dates have been updated in the graphic below: 

We are working on ways to assist you sooner rather than later.  In the meantime we encourage you to stay up to date with our latest news and developments through our website's Arts Resources Page, our e-newsletter, and social media posts.  If you are not currently a subscriber to our e-newsletter and email alerts, you can sign up here. 


Updated March 18, 2020 -3:35 p.m.  


Like all of you, the leadership of the Maine Arts Commission has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 public health situation. We have been in touch with many of our partnership organizations and constituents, and we have also consulted with the national network of arts agencies. In recent days we have been actively working with policy makers. It is our priority to keep you notified of the latest developments of how Maine’s arts and culture sector will be affected.

There are several issues around the virus that are circulating nationally among arts advocacy organizations and policy makers. One is gathering data from the arts field to determine the economic impact on the arts and culture communities. Another is making sure our sector is at the table when stimulus packages are rolled out. This will likely have a major impact on Maine.

For the many fine arts venues and establishments across the state, in the short term, we encourage ticket holders to please consider donating the cost of the ticket to an organization that has had to cancel a performance or temporarily shut their doors. This will help offset the inevitable losses that many Mainers will endure. For the individual artist, it is our hope that during these moments of uncertainty that one might choose to embrace that creative spark and continue to be inspired to make masterpieces and award-winning work.  

For more information, there are additional resources that are provided to us through Americans for the Arts. There is also an online Response and Resource Center which will be updated on a daily basis. In response to numerous inquiries, AFTA has launched a brief survey to gather data and stories from around the country on the economic impact on the national arts and culture industry. Your involvement will provide a strong foundation as we work to promote the inclusion of the arts and culture sector in stimulus package options and other Federal relief measures.  

The Maine Arts Commission is here to support all who may be affected in the coming weeks. Please reach out with any questions, concerns, and suggestions. We are here for you. Be well and keep safe.


All of Us at the Maine Arts Commission 


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Ryan Leighton

193 State Street
SHS 25
Augusta  ME  04333