Legislative, NEA & SVOG Updates 7/2/21

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Updated July 2, 2021

Dear Arts Action Fund Members,

Here’s a roundup of the week’s legislative updates and COVID relief grants impacting the arts.

Federal Legislative Update

Before Congress left for a two-week recess today, significant arts advocacy activity took place. 

  1. Both the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations approved a $33.5 million increase to the annual budgets of both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This matches the amount originally proposed by the Biden Administration to bring these agencies’ funding levels up to $201 million each for FY 2022. Congressional Arts Caucus Chair, who is also the Chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) stated, “The cultural sector has been particularly devastated by COVID-19, and this funding will help to support relief and recovery for community organizations across the country." The bill now moves to a House floor vote and then on to the Senate.


  1. Arts advocacy efforts helped the U.S. House of Representatives successfully fight off a series of GOP amendments to weaken the federal Transportation Infrastructure bill, one of which included an attempt to exclude the STAR Act, which restores the ability of local transit authorities to incorporate public art into transit projects. With the STAR Act intact, the Infrastructure bill now moves to the Senate.


NEA Announces Two Grant Programs for COVID Relief and Recovery for the Arts

  1. NEA is offering a subgranting program for Local Arts Agencies with an application deadline of July 22, 2021. Please watch our latest Americans for the Arts ArtsU Free Webinar to learn more about the specific guidelines for this program. 

  1. NEA is also offering direct grants to nonprofit arts and culture organizations with an application deadline of August 12, 2021. Please register now for the Americans for the Arts ArtsU Free Webinar on Tuesday, July 6th @ 3:00pm ET to learn more about the specific guidelines for this program or watch the simulcast on Arts Action Fund’s Facebook Live.

SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG) Updates

SBA is working quickly to resolve all the technical glitches that have hindered this program. As of this morning and since their last report (see above), they have now decisioned 9,760 applications, of which 3,201 have been awarded $2.3 billion so far. Another 2,337 are queued for award, 272 declined, and 3,200 in review. Here are some other related updates:

  • The great majority of these “decisioned” applications represent Tier 1 and 2 applications.
  • Tier 3 applications will start seeing movement in July.
  • SBA is now awarding grant amounts based on 45% of the applicant’s gross earned income as reported on their 2019 tax return (but on some tax returns like the schedule C it is just gross income and on a 990 form it is program service revenue). This may yield higher than expected award amounts for some applicants and lower than expected award amounts for other applicants.
  • There will be an opportunity for those who received a lower than expected award offer to request a re-consideration at the end of July during a two-week period. In the meantime, accept that lower award amount so you don’t lose the right to request re-consideration.
  • There will also be an opportunity for those who were declined for lack of eligibility to appeal the decision at the end of July for a two-week period.
  • Supplemental grants for Tier 1 and 2 applicants will have an easy step to process beginning mid-August. Bonus: supplemental funding will be based on 50% of your original SVOG grant award, prior to any reductions of a PPP that you received in 2021.
  • SBA continues to confirm that there are ample funds to cover all eligible applicants in all tiers, including the supplemental grants to cover partial losses in 2021.
  • The SVOG portal is still open for new applications. It’s not clear when it will close, so please don’t delay.

If you have more federal COVID-19 relief questions, including the latest on Shuttered Venues Operator Grants, please join me at my next weekly Zoom Office Hours tomorrow Friday, July 2 @ 11:00 am ET to ask questions and share experiences.

Nina Ozlu Tunceli
Executive Director

To read an archive of Arts Action Fund federal updates, visit COVID-19 Arts Federal Policy Updates & Action Alerts.