By Jasmine McCraven, Daily Memphian - ArtsMemphis, a primary funder for more than 70 arts organizations in Memphis and Shelby County, was one of 66 art agencies to receive the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
ArtsMemphis was granted $500,000 to subgrant to local arts organizations, which is the largest NEA grant received by a Tennessee organization.
The grant is part of the National Endowment’s efforts to help local art sectors recover from the pandemic.
It committed $20 million to help save jobs, fund facilities, health supplies and marketing that could encourage participation among the art communities.
The other Tennessee recipients were the Jackson Arts Council and the Emporium Center/Arts & Culture Alliance (in Knoxville).
“ArtsMemphis does tremendous work supporting our city’s arts organizations and artists. Their diligent and thoughtful process of grantmaking intentionally encourages, accelerates, and engages our diverse populations, neighborhoods, and art forms,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, in a press release.
ArtsMemphis estimated a pandemic-connected loss of $20 million in income for the Memphis and Shelby County arts community in 2020. Many organizations had laid off or furloughed about 20% of their employees at the beginning of the pandemic.
Elizabeth Rouse, president and CEO of ArtsMemphis, said that was due to “canceled events and potential changes in other philanthropic giving as a whole.”
In the 2020 fiscal year, ArtsMemphis allocated about $2.8 million to hundreds of artists and more than 50 arts organizations.
ArtsMemphis is also gearing up for its second annual Arts Week Dec. 5 to 12, a series of events meant to spotlight and raise funds for the artists and art organizations in the Bluff City.
“As we all have tried to make the most of these last two years, we longed for the light at the end of the tunnel to appear. Now, it seems that the light has begun to grow brighter — in the form of stage lights, marquee lights, and the flashing lights that guide us to our seats to experience the talent of our arts groups,” Rouse said.
Arts Week debuted virtually in 2020, making this year's event its first in-person experience.
The series kicks off Dec. 5 with a showing of “The Children’s Ballet Theater Nutcracker” at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
The schedule is as follows: