Virginia Beach Provides Nearly $1 Million of Federal CARES Act Grants to Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations

Thursday, December 17, 2020

​In response to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts and cultural community, the Virginia Beach City Council created the Virginia Beach CARES Act Arts & Cultural Relief Grant Program, allocating $933,874.80 of federal CARES Act funding to support 19 different Hampton Roads-based nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented hardships for the arts and cultural sector," said Emily Labows, Director of the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department. "The arts are a source of inspiration, a bridge between communities and an economic engine for the City. This grant program reflects the City Council's commitment to ensuring our local arts and cultural organizations survive through this period of adversity and remain strong well into the future."

According to a comprehensive 2017 study conducted by Americans for the Arts, $87.7 million in economic activity and 2,875 jobs are generated annually by the nonprofit arts and cultural industry in Virginia Beach, making it a formidable business and economic driver for the city. Outside of direct ticket revenue, attendance at arts and cultural events drives ancillary spending at hotels, restaurants and local small businesses, generating additional tax revenue.

Due to federal, state and local guidance restricting large gatherings as a safety measure to stop the spread of COVID-19, arts and cultural organizations have seen a substantial economic impact. According to self-reported information provided in grant applications, applicant arts and cultural organizations have sustained an estimated $5.5 million in financial losses between March 2020 and December 2020.

The Virginia Beach City Council designated $1.8 million of federal CARES Act funding as direct relief to area nonprofit organizations, including relief to arts and cultural nonprofit organizations. The City of Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department and Arts & Humanities Commission administered the Arts & Cultural Relief Grants, partnered with the City's Finance Department to ensure federal CARES Act guidelines were followed, and helped organizations understand how to prepare the grants.

The Virginia Beach Arts and Cultural CARES Act Grant covered eligible expenses related to business interruptions the applicant experienced due to COVID-19. Federal guidelines stated expenses must have been incurred and paid between March 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020. The local grant application closed on Nov. 15, 2020. 

Local arts and cultural organizations who received funding through this grant include: 

In addition to funding, the Cultural Affairs Department provided three virtual informational sessions to assist organizations with the grant process along with one-on-one virtual assistance by appointment.

Since March, the Department has also created and hosted a collection of six virtual roundtables meeting regularly to foster discussions between local arts and cultural organizations and create partnerships. Roundtables cover topics including Arts and Cultural Marketing, Public Art, Performing Arts, Museums, Cultural Organizations and Arts and Cultural Organization Leadership.

"Our roundtables have become a vital pathway for connecting with our arts and cultural community as business moved to a largely online space," said Hillary Plate, Cultural Programming and Grants Coordinator. "Even though the bright lights of the stage have been off, we've been busy with several community impact initiatives emerging from these virtual discussions."

Through the roundtables, ideas such as a food drive to support out of work arts and entertainment employees and local foodbanks, Pop-Up Chalk Art Murals, Holiday Performance Pop-Ups planned in Town Center, live social media conversations highlighting different organizations and more have come to fruition.

For more information about the Virginia Beach Arts and Cultural CARES Act Grant, please contact Hillary Plate, Cultural Programming and Grants Coordinator, at hplate@vbgov.com.

ABOUT THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH CULTURAL AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT:
The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations. 

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