Pandemic Prompts Cuyahoga Arts And Culture To Speed Up Grants

Gallery of art at Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the grant recipients of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. [Jason Sponseller / Shutterstock]

One of the region’s biggest funders of cultural activities, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC), took action Wednesday to help organizations financially battered by the pandemic. Executive director Jill Paulsen said grants are usually doled out in portions over the course of a year, but the current economic crisis calls for a change.

“That means we're taking dollars that would be distributed over the next nine months and saying the time to spend them is now and invest them now, so that organizations can have that flexible bridge money as they apply for other federal loans or begin planning for how they can retain as many staff as possible," she said.

Paulsen said about $5 million will go out immediately to 65 museums, theaters and arts centers. The financial assistance is for general operating support, and grant amounts were already determined and announced last year

“It's a small slice of each of their budgets, but it is the largest flexible dollars they get from anyone locally or nationally,” Paulsen said. “So it does become an important piece of the puzzle for those groups to be remaining strong.”

CAC executive director Jill Paulsen

Jill Paulsen, executive director, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture [Cuyahoga Arts and Culture]

An additional 200 groups who had to cancel special festivals and summer events will have the option of deferring grants to next year.

This funding comes from revenue generated by a tax on cigarettes in Cuyahoga County. Part of the reason that CAC usually distributes the money in a more measured way is to take advantage of interest income generated by the tax.

“Well, you know what? That's kind of off the table now, as folks know from their own bank accounts and their own investments,” Paulsen said. “That's not the source of revenue we're going to have in the future to keep us strong. So, let's get the money out and act now.”

ideastream receives support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

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