The Birmingham Museum of Art is the recipient of a $50,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts’ Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The BMA is among 855 organizations — representing every state — to receive the funds which are designated to support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities costs.
Grants of $50,000 are being offered to 846 organizations while nine local arts agencies will receive $250,000 each to further award to arts organizations in their area. The National Endowment for the Arts 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. Overall funding is divided nearly evenly between small, medium, and large arts organizations.
In a statement released on July 1, Arts Endowment Chairman Mary Anne Carter commented: “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. 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.”
The Birmingham Museum of Art closed its doors to the public on March 15 due to COVID-19 and will not reopen until a statistical flattening of the curve has been achieved in Jefferson County for at least two consecutive weeks. In the meantime, the BMA has pivoted from in-person programming to a virtual platform hosted on the Museum’s website called #BMAfromHome. Digital offerings include live in-gallery talks by the BMA’s director, digital exhibitions created by members of the curatorial staff, artist interviews conducted by the education department, video art-making activities, art games, coloring pages, and more. Funds from the NEA Cares grant will be used to further these initiatives.
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.