Visual arts

$850,000 in US bailout grants go to Alabama arts organizations

The National Endowment for the Arts directed $850,000 in US bailout grants to Alabama institutions based in Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuskegee.

The seven grants are part of a list announced Thursday, made up of more than 500 grants totaling more than $57 million. It follows another round of unrelated grants from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which directed $240,000 to a dozen Alabama organizations earlier in January.

ARP funds are intended to help institutions recover from the damage caused by the pandemic. According to the NEA, they can be used “to save jobs and fund operations and facilities, health and safety supplies, and marketing and promotional efforts to encourage attendance and participation.”

“Our country’s arts sector has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts bailout will help arts organizations rebuild and reopen,” said NEA President Maria Rosario Jackson. “The arts are essential to helping American communities heal, unite, and inspire, as well as essential to our nation’s economic recovery.”

Elizabeth Elliott, executive director and curator of the Alabama Contemporary Art Center in Mobile, said such grants help keep institutions like hers from lowering their goals.

“Throughout the pandemic, ACAC has been pursuing ambitious programming, primarily to keep the critical opportunities and support we provide for artists intact,” she said. “We have seen countless opportunities disappear on the pitch. Worse still, the underrepresented and underfunded are the hardest hit. It is crucial that we imagine the world as we can build it, rather than sitting idly by yearning for an easier time. This funding will strengthen the current slate of programs, allow us to hire essential staff and support positions with confidence and safety, and better serve this community and the South in general.

The latest ARP grants:

$100,000 to the Sloss Furnaces (aka Sloss) Foundation in Birmingham

$150,000 to Space One Eleven, Inc., Birmingham

$150,000 to the Center for the Living Arts/Alabama Contemporary Arts Center

$50,000 to Mobile Opera

$150,000 to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery

$100,000 to Alabama Writers Forum in Montgomery

$150,000 to Tuskegee University

“Arts organizations, in particular, have suffered during the pandemic,” said Julie Friedman, chair of the board of trustees of the Alabama Contemporary Arts Center. “Congress and the NEA responded with bailout grants to help with their recovery and stabilization. Thank you to the NEA for providing the Alabama Center for Contemporary Art with a lifesaving grant, ensuring that our organization will continue to enrich the cultural fabric of the Gulf Coast.

In previous rounds of ARP grants announced in 2021, the Huntsville Arts Council received $150,000 and the Alabama State Council on the Arts received $814,100.

The previous round of non-ARP NEA grants, announced earlier in January, included the following recipients from Alabama:

$30,000 to Ekvn-Yefolecv Ecovillage in the Atmore area for folk and traditional art projects

$20,000 to Auburn University for music projects

$50,000 to the Alabama Dance Council in Birmingham

$20,000 to Birmingham Opera House

$20,000 to the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema in Birmingham

$10,000 to the Sloss Furnaces Foundation in Birmingham for arts education

$30,000 to Space One Eleven in Birmingham for visual arts

$10,000 to the Community Ballet Association (aka Huntsville Ballet)

$15,000 to the Mobile Arts Council for local arts agencies

$10,000 to A-KEEP (Alabama Korea Education and Economic Partnership) in Montgomery

$40,000 to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery

$10,000 to the Kentuck Museum Association (aka Kentuck Art Center & Festival) in Northport