February 25, 2021
Philadelphia artists impacted by the coronavirus pandemic may soon be eligible for grant funding under a new proposal introduced Thursday in City Council.
A proposed ordinance would provide the city's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy with $1.3 million to support artists, mid-size nonprofits and small businesses.
"The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected Philadelphia's entire arts and cultural landscape, and we know that additional funding would be a welcome resource for this community," Carrie Leibrand, spokesperson for OACCE said in a statement to PhillyVoice.
The proposal, introduced by Councilmembers Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas, would provide $1 million for "Illuminate the Arts" grants. The remaining $300,000 would be split in several areas.
About $200,000 would fund artists and cultural organizations that had performances or events cancelled by OACCE's Culture in Neighborhoods program due to the pandemic, a representative from Gilmore Richardson's office told PhillyVoice.
Another $50,000 would fund a new staffer to manage the grant funding. The final $50,000 would serve as "a small cushion for unexpected miscellaneous costs" associated with the grant program.
The funding would be drawn from the city's $25 million New Normal Budget Act, enacted last summer to address disparities brought more fully to light by the coronavirus pandemic and racial justice protests.
"When the city fully opens up, arts and culture will drive people to the city," Thomas said in a press release earlier this week. "We can’t keep saving the arts, we have to start illuminating the arts as the economic drivers and job creators that they've always been."
The proposed ordinance was referred to the Appropriations Committee. A hearing is expected sometime in early March.
If approved by City Council, applications for the grant money would be rolled out sometime in the next few weeks.
"Through the Disadvantaged Communities Task Force, Councilmember Thomas and I were able to hear from community members about the challenges that were most severe and work collaboratively to find solutions," Gilmore Richardson said. "Today, with funding from the New Normal Budget Act, we are excited to be able to invest directly in arts and culture, a sector that has been deeply impacted as a result of the pandemic."