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Women’s Center for Creative Work.
Women’s Center for Creative Work.

Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Distributes $12 Million in Relief Aid

The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture in November announced that it would distribute $12 million in CARES Act relief money among 337 local arts nonprofits, each of which received a grant of between $1,000 and $45,000; of these, 217 received the maximum amount. The awards, meant to tide over arts nonprofits struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic, are to be made by December 30.

Sheila Kuehl, supervisor for LA County’s Third District, noted that many of the qualifying recipients, many of which rely on galas, benefits, or other now-impossible in-person events to provide the bulk of their funding, were “not eligible for other government relief like most for-profit sectors” and that the grants were aimed at “help[ing] them stay afloat and sustain[ing] our vibrant arts community in LA County.”

Among the recipients were the Autry Museum of the American West, California LGBT Arts Alliance, Coaxial, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Greenway Arts Alliance, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, LAXART, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles Nomadic Division, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and Women’s Center for Creative Work.

Speaking with Hyperallergic, Kristen Sakoda, director of the county’s Department of Arts and Culture, acknowledged the lack of “significant relief grants for the nonprofit sector.” Sakoda noted that priority was given to organizations with budgets of under $15 million, with 95 percent of the grants going to “micro, small, and midsize nonprofits.” Additionally, through partnerships with municipal arts agencies in Pasadena, West Hollywood, Culver City, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, and Long Beach, the county targeted smaller areas ineligible for a $150 million federal relief fund aimed at cities with a population above half a million.

The organizations applying for CARES Act funds reported more than $230.7 million in negative financial impact, including lost revenue and unanticipated expenses, such as those of shifting to online platforms. Ninety percent cited a decline in revenues of 25 percent or more, with over half laying off staff, and 83 percent acknowledging that they planned to spend the grant money on payroll.