Colorado Arts Relief Grant Opens Second Round of Applications for Pandemic Assistance

To help stabilize the entertainment and arts industry after COVID-19 hit pause on large social gatherings, Governor Polis signed House Bill 1285 into law on June 14, granting $3.5 million for the Colorado Arts Relief Grant.

The bill, Funding to Support Creative Arts Industries, established a grant program through Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), a division of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). Its goal is to help individuals, businesses and organizations that experienced financial instability due to the pandemic avoid permanent business and venue closures, and encourage a “resilient post-pandemic entertainment and arts industry” in the state.

The second round of applications opened on August 23 for a portion of the $15.5 million grant. The first round of relief grants was distributed in early 2021 after Senate Bill 001 granted $7.5 million to the fund after passing into law last year.

“Because of the extreme need, the legislature decided to introduce additional funds,” explained Ruth Wilson, program manager at CCI. “What we were hearing in the first round was that a lot of artists supplement their income working at bars and restaurants, which were closed during the pandemic, too. It’s been really important to be able to help because these people are so passionate about what they do.”

Past award recipients include the Gothic Theatre, Denver Film, Levitt Pavilion and Museo de las Americas, among several others. Two separate grant programs are available through the relief fund, one for businesses and organizations and another for individuals. Criteria of eligibility are based upon the applicant’s ability to showcase economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. Funding eligibility is based upon the recipient’s cash operating revenue in 2019. Businesses and organizations that made up to $50,000 can request up to $10,000. Those that made as much as $2 million are eligible to request up to $200,000.

303 Magazine, 303 Music, Levitt Pavilion, Levitt Pavilion Denver, Josie Russell, Joel Rekiel

Levitt Pavilion in Denver received $14,000 from the Colorado Arts Relief Grant in the first round. Photo by Joel Rekiel

Priority is given to businesses and organizations that did not receive funding in the first round. Other criteria are considered during an applicant’s review, including cultural and community impact, those that support communities lacking equitable access to resources and overall economic impact.

“We’re really looking at this as a post-pandemic resiliency program and basing those funds on organizational size and budget size,” said Libby Barbee, program manager of CCI during an information session.

For individual applicants, anyone who earns at least 33 percent of their annual income from arts or cultural work, in addition to being an employed or contracted artist or crew member before March 2020, is eligible for funds. The severity of financial hardship and applicants that experience barriers or inequitable access to significant resources will have priority during the application review. Funding is based upon the level of financial need set by the applicant which ranges between $1,000-$4,000.

Recipients of the grant are required to submit a final report to CCI by September 15, 2022, documenting and detailing how funds were spent. Other grant programs for artists are available through OEDIT, including Colorado Creative Corps ARP, Colorado Arts Partnership Grants and Community Revitalization Grants.

The deadline to apply for the Colorado Arts Relief Grant’s second round is on November 2. To find out more, visit here.