Colorado’s mighty cultural sector can tap into $7.5 million from a bill voted on earlier this month.

It’s sort of like Washington, D.C., but closer to home and with much less money. But with an Arts Relief Fund, we want cultural programs in Colorado to survive — and dare we hope they will thrive. Colorado Creative Industries, or CCI, will manage those funds. CCI is a division of the Office of Economic Development & International Trade, or OEDIT. 

In early December, the Colorado General Assembly’s First Extraordinary Session voted on 10 bills that fund more than $340 million for various goals. One bill – SB20B-001 – included direct relief funding for cultural groups. This bill addresses the topic of the cultural sector “impacted by capacity restrictions imposed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The Arts Relief Fund grants are open to Colorado nonprofits, businesses and individuals. It’s not just for cities, but also for rural organizations and communities. CCI has a deadline by January 8 at 4 p.m. Individuals can receive $2,500, while organizations can receive various amounts or tiers, depending on their need in the application. 

A friend who knows much more about this program notes that Literary Arts or Spoken Word/Performance Poetry are not spelled out in the guidelines, but would encourage, especially individuals, to apply anyway if people need the assistance.

The grant applications will be read by the Colorado Creative Industries, while RedLine will be fielding questions. One could imagine that there will be a flood coming in even during or after the holidays. This funding initiative will ask for a lot of information, but that is what the money is about.

A couple of things in this list of requirements, I did not understand. For example, an individual can have incurred a significant loss of income (33% or more based on 2019 annual income) as a direct result of the mandated closure of venues, galleries, or museums, or as a result of cancelled events and activities. But that person could submit an application for funding as a Colorado resident as of March 15, 2020, which was when  when things were beginning to shut down. 

The first link below lays out everything: eligible organizations and individuals, eligible expenses, how to apply, selection process (administered by CCI), and conditions of funding. To fill out a grant application, there is a portal provided online. 

The other links below include information for OEDIT, a story in Westword about the Arts Relief Fund, and a story in The New York Times with this headline: “Stimulus Offers $15 Billion in Relief for Struggling Arts Venues.” As they like to say: Help is coming.

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