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Regional Arts Commission Pledges Help For Artists Hit Hard By Coronavirus Shutdowns

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Regional Arts Commission

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis will not withhold previously approved grant funding for projects that arts organizations and artists have had to cancel or postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic.

RAC also will distribute $100,000 in emergency assistance to artists who have lost their livelihoods because of the crisis, said Mont Levy, chair of the organization’s board.

In the past week, performance venues, theaters, galleries and other arts spaces in the St. Louis region canceled events to comply with a ban by local officials on gatherings of more than 10 people.

That’s left many artists and organizations in a financial bind, Levy said.

Funded by hotel and motel room sales taxes in St. Louis and St. Louis County, RAC distributes about $4 million a year in tax dollars to artists and arts groups. Because of the crisis, the organization will not withhold the thousands of dollars in program and artist grants, and fellowships for the fiscal year that ends June 30, Levy said.

“It’s a hardship for the community; it’s a hardship for all of these organizations and artists who are impacted,” he said of the coronavirus outbreak and the disruption that it has caused. “Those dollars are in, they’ve been committed, and we felt it terribly important to continue with those funds.”

Levy said RAC is still evaluating how to proceed with some of its grants once the fiscal year ends.

He said hotel cancellations could affect how much tax revenue RAC has to distribute, including its two-year general operating support grants.

Levy said the emergency relief fund will be used to help artists pay for rent, food, medicine and other essentials. He said details on eligibility will be released soon.

The fund comes at a time when grassroot groups and organizations are creating their own ways to fund artists affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic. 

“If there are other organizations or individuals who would like to partner with us in this effort, please consider this an open invitation,” Levy said. “We’d love to hear from them.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
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