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Press Releases - County Council

Council introduces $3,250,000 special appropriation to provide assistance to creative professionals and arts and humanities organizations that have been struggling financially during the Covid-19 pandemic

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Funding spearheaded by Councilmembers Craig Rice and Evan Glass will enable the Arts and Humanities Council to provide emergency grant funding

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 23, 2020—Today the Montgomery County Council introduced a special appropriation of $3,250,000 to support creative professionals and arts and humanities organizations that have been financially impacted by the Covid-19 global pandemic. The full Council is sponsoring the special appropriation, which was initiated by Councilmember Craig Rice, who chairs the Education and Culture Committee, and Councilmember Evan Glass, who serves on the Health and Human Services Committee and is the Lead for Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities.

“The arts, like our education community, help to shape and expand our thoughts, beliefs and values for those it touches,” said Councilmember Craig Rice.  “Art plays a vital role in enhancing the vitality of Montgomery County not just economically but also in the quality of life for our residents.  We need to ensure our arts and humanities organizations and artists know that the county recognizes their importance and supports them during these very difficult times.”

“These grants will support our local artists and artistic organizations at a time when cultural and civic expression is most needed to heal and unite our community and our nation,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, who served as the executive director of an arts organization before joining the Council. “The arts sector is a vibrant part of Montgomery County’s economic engine and it is important that we provide support during this pandemic so that they are ready to turn their lights on and raise their curtains when it is safe to reopen.”

The special appropriation provides $250,000 in mini-grants of up to $3,000 to individual artists and creative workers and $3 million in general operating support grants to arts and humanities organizations.  Compared to surrounding jurisdictions, Montgomery County’s arts and humanities sector has experienced the highest loss in revenue due to canceled performances, exhibitions and events, since Maryland Governor Hogan’s Executive Order was issued to close performing and visual arts, concert and film venues as well as museums.  

Moreover, in an April 2020 survey conducted by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, 100 percent of local arts and humanities organizations reported cancelling, suspending or delaying 712 contracts for independent artists, scholars and educators that arts and humanities organizations could no longer employ. This is compounded by the fact that many creative professionals have reported difficulty accessing or qualifying for federal and state Covid-19 relief programs such as unemployment benefits and housing assistance.  According to Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations have lost an estimated $5.5 billion and 210 million admissions across the U.S. due to cancelled events through May 18, 2020.  

Like other jurisdictions, arts and entertainment venues in Montgomery County are among the last group of activities that are permitted to resume operations because of concerns associated with indoor Covid-19 transmission and large group activities. The long-term impact of the global pandemic on the arts and humanities sector in the County is not yet fully known because it is difficult to schedule opening dates and to gauge the level of public demand once creative arts venues are able to resume operations. 

At the June 8 Education and Culture Committee meeting, Councilmember Rice and Councilmember Glass discussed the need to explore specific arts and humanities sector relief programs to mitigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The Committee unanimously recommended the introduction of a special appropriation for an Arts Covid-19 Relief Fund. The Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the special appropriation on July 7 at 1:30 p.m. 

The Council staff report can be viewed here.

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Release ID: 20-270
Media Contact: Sharon Ledner 240-777-7955, Valeria Carranza 240-777- 796