I wanted to take a moment to briefly update you on a few things regarding RISCA, our current round of grants, and preparations for our October 1 deadline.
In previous communications we’ve discussed how the state’s financial situation has affected the grant applications we received back in April of this year. To recap, all applications have been reviewed by peer review panelists and have had an initial review by our Council. However, we will not be announcing any grants until after the General Assembly has passed a budget and Governor Raimondo has signed it into law.
For now, the Governor and General Assembly are waiting until Congress has addressed the very serious challenges – financial and otherwise – facing us through the Coronavirus pandemic. There is some reason to believe that additional resources will be available through the federal government to support Rhode Island, and our state budget will be passed once Washington has finalized a relief package.
Aside from delaying notification on grants that were scheduled to begin on July 1, what does that mean for us? Currently, Rhode Island has an estimated $400 million deficit going into this fiscal year. A deficit of this magnitude would mean significant cuts across state government, including cuts in support of the arts. Under the circumstances, the appropriate thing for us to do is wait until we know something about our budget before we take any action regarding grants or other financial support to the arts community.
Typically we would “open up” our next cycle of grant applications on August 1. This would allow artists and arts organizations about two months to prepare and submit their application for RISCA’s October 1 deadline. We have decided not to open this next cycle of grant applications until we know more about our budget. In the event of significant cuts we may be forced to reduce or even eliminate October 1 grant opportunities.Please know that if funding is available for October 1 grants we may be able to adjust the deadline to provide additional time for applications to be prepared and submitted, depending on when a budget is finalized.
We don’t anticipate the need to take drastic measures, but we must be prepared nonetheless. For now, please know that we value the contributions that you make to the cultural and economic vitality of our state, and we look forward to continuing to support your work on behalf of all Rhode Islanders.
Thank you all for your continued support of the Artist Relief Fund for Rhode Island Arts and Culture Workers. We currently have approximately $40,000 in funds available, but have made the decision to continue our pause on applications and distributing these funds reasons including:
First and foremost, the amount of funds compared to the level of need prevents us from equitably and usefully distributing the currently available funds.
There are numerous financial safety nets available to freelance workers, including artists, that have a significantly larger foot print. We will actively support arts and culture workers applying for these programs (see a brief overview of some of the offerings below). We also are monitoring the situation closely at a federal and state level, as some of the expanded benefits available expire at the end of July and may or may not be renewed.
The two main partners involved in the application and decision process, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the City of Providence Department of Arts Culture + Tourism, are currently experiencing partial staff furloughs – the staff members at each agency with primary responsibility for the ARF are both currently only working three days a week.
We will continue to actively fundraise, and we will be meeting in mid-August to re-assess the current needs of our community and our ability to quickly and equitably distribute funds. We also hope that this is the beginning of a longer term, statewide, partner run emergency relief fund that can be accessed beyond the pandemic.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Mollie Flanagan at the Rhode Island State Council on the Art at email@example.com. Please note that she is currently working Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays only, so email response time may be slower than usual. Additionally, if you want more information or assistance in accessing other safety net programs, including unemployment, SNAP, and Medicaid, you can also reach out to Mollie or call 211 (staffed by the United Way).
The CARES Act vastly expanded unemployment, both in amount of benefits and who is eligible. If you are a freelancer/self-employed/sole proprietor/gig worker, you are now eligible! Please apply ASAP using this link: https://covidemergencyuibenefits.dlt.ri.gov/. Benefits are based on your adjusted gross income for the last year your filed taxes for, either 2018 or 2019.
If you are not a freelancer, and were employed full or part time with an entity that paid into unemployment insurance tax, apply here: https://dltweb.dlt.ri.gov/UIClaims2013/intro/index.aspx?AC=yes. The federal government, as part of the CARES Act, has increased unemployment benefits by $600 a week, though that increase expires at the end of July.
It’s taking 1-2 weeks for DLT to process claims right now. They are asking that you not contact them unless it has been longer than that, as updating folks about their claims takes time away from processing claims. If they need more information, they will get in touch with you.
SNAP/Medicaid/Other State Level Social Programs
If you are out of work/your income has been vastly reduced, I encourage you to apply for SNAP (formerly food stamps). You can apply for other state level safety net programs using the same application, including Medicaid if you have lost or do not have health insurance.
Immediate crisis needs: Call United Way at 211, they will connect you to immediate resources, including assistance with food, housing, and more. More info here: https://www.uwri.org/2-1-1/.
Housing: If you are RENTING and are at risk of losing your housing due to financial issues, there is a statewide grant program to pay current or past due rent, late fees, or moving expenses. More info here: https://www.housinghelpri.com/
Health Insurance: If you have had a change in income or job status, you can apply for health insurance through the state exchange (this includes Medicaid) here: https://healthsourceri.com/.
Other Things- Evictions, Utilities, and Student Loans
To Governor has issued a moratorium on the shut off of publicly regulated utiltiies through September 30. This applies to gas, electric, water, and wastewater.
If you have federal student loans: Under the CARES Act, payments on federal student loans — including direct loans, Perkins loans and Federal Family Education Loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education — are automatically suspended from March 13 through Sept. 30, 2020. That means eligible federal loan borrowers do not have to make payments. While loan payments are suspended, interest will not accrue. If you are on auto-pay, you have to suspend payments yourself, they are not suspending them automatically through the payment system. This does not include private student loans, or FFEL loans.
The National Endowment for the Arts announced today that it has awarded grants totaling $976,200 to seven arts organizations and agencies in Rhode Island. These federal grants support projects by some of Rhode Island’s major arts institutions. In addition, the Endowment works in partnership with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) to ensure that the people of Rhode Island have access to the arts. A grant of $776,200 to RISCA helps to support projects throughout the Ocean State.
In announcing the grants, Mary Anne Carter, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said, “These awards demonstrate the continued creativity and excellence of arts projects across America and the nimbleness of our nation’s arts organizations in the face of a national crisis that shuttered their doors for months. By funding arts projects in every U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia, the National Endowment for the Arts again celebrates the opportunity to make the arts available to every corner of the country and to see how the arts can heal and unite us.”
Over $84 million in new grants to 1,144 organizations in every U.S. state and territory were announced today by the National Endowment for the Arts. A complete list of grants, organized by state and city, can be found here.
Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, said, “we are delighted that the National Endowment for the Arts has supported Rhode Island through these grants. This federal support, matched by funding from the State of Rhode Island, ensures that thousands of Rhode Islanders will benefit from the arts, economically, educationally and culturally. Every grant that is made by RISCA and the Arts Endowment at the state and local level is a reflection of a national effort to make the arts available to all of our citizens, and as such is enormously important. The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is proud to work with our federal partner in that effort.”
Here is the list of grants in Rhode Island that are part of this recent announcement by the National Endowment for the Arts:
To support the production of An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
Art Works – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works
To support salaries and related administrative costs for Futureworlds, an arts education and mentorship program for youth.
Community Musicworks (aka CMW)
Art Works – Music
To support free music education and performance programs for at-risk children and youth.
Art Works – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works
To support a series of multidisciplinary arts presentations.
Rhode Island School of Design
Art Works – Media Arts
To support development of a toolkit and an artist residency enabling the creation of new works in spatial audio and computer-based live performance.
Rhode Island School of Design (on behalf of RISD Museum)
Art Works – Museums
To support a traveling exhibition of works by Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969).
Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
Partnerships (State & Regional) – State & Regional
To support arts programs, services, and activities associated with carrying out the agency’s National Endowment for the Arts-approved strategic plan.
Applications for these Art Works and Our Town recommended grants were submitted in summer 2019 and approved at the end of March 2020. Given the impact of Covid-19 and the time required to make project adjustments, project descriptions can be found through the Arts Endowment’s Recent Grant Search. This list is current as of 6/9/2020.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.
About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. Visit www.arts.ri.gov for more information.