COVID-19 Government Relief

Quick Links: U.S. Federal Coronavirus Relief | 2021 Relief | 2020 Relief | New York Specific Resources | Additional Resources

APAP continues to work alongside our national partners to advocate for legislation that supports performing arts organizations, artists and arts workers. The information on this page has been collected from a number of resources and is updated regularly. Also, please check the APAP COVID-related Advocacy page for updates.

If you would like to share other government information resources with APAP, please email communications@apap365.org. We especially welcome resources that aggregate information.

Our collective advocacy efforts as a field are working. Your stories are being heard. We thank you for your efforts and urge you to continue to reach out to your Congressional representatives.

Advocacy at the state level is also important. You can get involved with local efforts through Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network.

U.S. Federal Coronavirus Relief

Below is the latest information on federal relief. 

  • Please be advised that regulations and guidelines are being implemented as laws are being passed and that applying for one program may make you ineligible for another. 
  • We include a number of links to the agencies themselves that are administering the relief programs and encourage you to refer to their websites for more information. 
  • APAP has been advised that due to the large quantities of requests coming to federal agencies that you begin your application processes as soon as possible. 
  • We also encourage you to research additional relief resources in your state and region.

We also want to thank our colleagues at the League of American Orchestras for their contribution to assembling much of this information on behalf of the performing arts field.

2021 Relief

The American Rescue Plan of March 2021

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law a massive $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief. Here is an overview of key elements of the relief package, many which build on programs established in 2020:

  • Shuttered Venue Operators Grants: An additional $1.25 billion in funding will be made available to support the Small Business Administration’s emerging COVID-19 relief program, also known as Save our Stages, bringing total funding for the program to $16.25 billion. A policy change will allow 2021 Paycheck Protection Program recipients to apply for a Shuttered Venues grant, and then deduct the value of their PPP loan from the applicant’s maximum grant amount. An additional $840 million in funding will build the capacity of SBA to administer relief programs, including Shuttered Venue grants.

  • Paycheck Protection Program: An additional $7.25 billion will be added to the PPP resources, and eligibility changes will allow nonprofits with no more than 500 employees at each location to be eligible for forgivable loans.

  • National Endowment for the Arts COVID-19 Relief:The NEA will receive an additional $135 million in dedicated funding, with 40% allocated to states and regions and the remainder supporting direct grants to organizations “that support organizations’ programming and general operating expenses to cover up to 100 percent of the costs of the programs which the grants support, to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the coronavirus.” New dedicated COVID-19 relief funding has also been included for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

  • Employee Retention Tax Credit: The refundable payroll tax credits that are currently available in the first two quarters of 2021 will be extended through the remainder of the calendar year.

  • Families First Paid Leave and Credits: Paid sick and family leave provisions are expanded and refundable payroll tax credits extended through September 30, 2021.

  • Pandemic Unemployment Benefits: Pandemic Unemployment benefits, including the $100 supplement for those with a mix of 1099 and W-2 earnings, are extended through September 6, 2021. Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will be available at $300 per week, through September 6, 2021. The first $10,200 of unemployment insurance benefits will be non-taxable in 2021 for households with an adjusted gross income under $150,000.

  • Relief for Nonprofits Self-Insuring Unemployment Benefits: Some nonprofits self-insure unemployment benefits rather than pay state unemployment taxes. The federal government covers 50% of nonprofit liability under the CARES Act, and this relief was extended through March 14, 2021 in the December relief package. This bill continues the 50% coverage through March 31, and then starting April 1 federal relief will cover 75% of nonprofit liability, available through September 6, 2021.

2020 Relief

Quick Links: Paid Leave Provisions | Paycheck Protection Program Loans | Employee Retention Credits | Industry Stabilization Fund Loans | Pandemic Unemployment Assistance | Relief for Nonprofits that Self-Insure Unemployment BenefitsNew Charitable Giving Incentives | Dedicated NEA Funding for COVID-19 Relief  | Shuttered Venue Operators Grants ("Save Our Stages") SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020

Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law on March 18, contains paid leave provisions relevant to arts organizations, artists and arts workers, including paid leave mandates for employees, relief for employers (including nonprofit employers) that provide the paid leave, and comparable leave provisions for self-employed workers.

  • Beginning April 1, 2020, new COVID-19 related paid leave requirements will be in effect. The U.S. Department of Labor has created a 59-question FAQ for employers, posters describing employee rights under the new law, and a bulletin announcing limited enforcement through April 17, as employers learn how to come into compliance.

  • Mandated Paid Leave for Employees: Employers with up to 500 employees will be required to provide expanded sick leave and family medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19, including federal, state, and local government quarantines or isolation orders and caring for a child whose school has closed, and more. The FFCRA's paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

  • Relief for Employers: Those employers required to provide emergency paid leave are eligible to recover the costs of employee leave and health insurance through a refundable payroll tax credit for which nonprofits are eligible. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for an exemption from paid leave requirements if providing the paid leave threatens the viability of the organization. The U.S. Department of the Treasury is currently writing further guidelines for implementation. In the meantime, the agency provides an overview of employer relief provisions.

  • Paid Leave for Self-employed Workers: The law provides for equivalent emergency paid sick leave and family medical leave for self-employed workers through an individual refundable tax credit. The U.S. Department of Treasury is currently writing guidelines for how self-employed individuals may claim the credit.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of March 2020 and the COVID-19 Stimulus Package of December 2020.

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. We have highlighted below key components of the bill that arts organizations, arts workers and artists can access, including relief for non-profit organizations, small businesses, independent contractors and self-employed individuals. You can read the full text of the bill and the Senate's section-by-section summary.

The National Council of Nonprofits has also published a helpful guide of what's in the bill for nonprofits

On December 27, 2020, an additional $900 billion COVID Relief legislative package was signed into law, including a second draw at PPP and the "Save Our Stages" provisions now known as the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.

  • Paycheck Protection Program loans, backed by the Small Business Administration, and forgiven by the federal government, is one of the many relief options available through the SBA: Organizations, including 501(c)(3) nonprofits, and self-employed individuals will have access to forgivable loans, through a streamlined application process intended to provide rapid relief that will keep workers on the payroll and help self-employed workers.

    UPDATE: On April 24, 2020, a supplementary bill was signed into law to recapitalize the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program, providing for an additional $310 billion for small business relief. $60 billion of these new funds will be reserved for smaller lending institutions, such as credit unions, community banks, Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions. The SBA will resume accepting PPP loan applications on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. EDT from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower. The SBA is encouraging all approved lenders to process loan applications previously submitted by eligible borrowers and disburse funds expeditiously. All eligible borrowers who need these funds should work with an approved lender to apply.

    Loans will be provided by local lending institutions that are authorized by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Talk to a lender who already knows you. They need to be approved to do 7a loans in order to process this loan. Here is a list of the top most active 100 SBA lenders or you can find an eligible lender here. Eligible organizations are subject to a size cap of up to 500 employees (counting individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis). The maximum loan amount is $10 million.

    Loans may cover expenses incurred beginning February 15, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2020. Loan payments will be deferred for at least six months and up to one year, and the term of the loans will be up to ten years, at no more than 4% interest. Eligible uses of the loans include payroll costs (including salary, wages, compensation, leave, severance, health care benefits, insurance premiums, retirement benefits, and state and local taxes), rent, utilities, and mortgage interest payments.

    Applicants may apply to their lender for loan forgiveness. The Senate summary states that a, "borrower shall be eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount spent by the borrower during an 8-week period after the origination date of the loan." The portion of the loan that can be forgiven will be reduced by an amount related to positions that have been eliminated and wages that have been reduced, unless those positions and wages are restored by June 30, 2020.

    Local lenders backed by the SBA are processing loan applications from employers with fewer than 500 employees, as well as applications from self-employed workers. These aim to support eight weeks of eligible costs through loan forgiveness. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has posted an overview for borrowers, an overview for lenders, and an example of the loan application form. Of particular concern to some organizations has been the question of how the 500 employee limit will be calculated. The U.S. Department of the Treasury confirmed that it will use the following SBA method of calculation.

    UPDATE: As of May 4, 2020, the Treasury has issued new rules for seasonal employers that allow applicants to determine their maximum loan amount by calculating average monthly payroll over the period of March 1 to June 30, 2019 (as announced in the orginal guidelines) OR May 1 to September 15, 2019 (a new time frame, for those with more staff in summer months). Interim guidelines for self-employed applicants are also now available, which is important for artists who were previously shut out.

    Have a question about the Paycheck Protection Program not addressed here? You may find the answer in these FAQs from the Department of the Treasury. Please check back as this is updated regularly.

    UPDATE: As of May 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration released further guidance related to the Paycheck Protection Program’s loan forgiveness process. Here are the links to the previously-issued loan forgiveness form, the new interim rules for loan forgiveness, and the new interim rules detailing how the SBA will review loan eligibility and the amount entitled to loan forgiveness

    UPDATE: On June 5, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act was signed into law, to provide much-needed flexibility for borrowers to get their loans fully forgiven. Key highlights are that the law extends deadlines for PPP usage, changes the forgiveness formula for PPP loans, expands conditions and interest rate around repaying the loans, outlines deferment plans for monthly loan repayments, and lengthens the forgiveness rehire date. This legislation also corrected an item in the original CARES ACT and would now allow employers who receive PPP loans to be also eligible to defer payment of the employer's portion of a W-2 employee's 2020 FICA tax so that 50% can be paid in 2021 and 50% in 2022.

    UPDATE: On June 16, 2020, the Small Business Administration released new rules implementing the provisions of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. While more guidance may soon follow, the rules include some helpful clarification, including confirmation that borrowers with less than 60% of expenditures dedicated to payroll will be eligible for partial loan forgiveness. you may find this analysis of the new rules helpful.

    For those who have already received a PPP loan and may be nearing the completion of your loan period, be aware of significant developments regarding the loan forgiveness application process. We recommend that you watch the replay of this excellent webinar from The League of American Orchestras on the loan forgiveness process, including an overview of the Flexibility Act. Also, the SBA has just made available a new EZ forgiveness application which promises to take only 20 minutes to complete and for which many may qualify

    With more than $100 billion remaining in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) resources, any potential applicant should take note that the opportunity to apply for a loan closes on June 30, 2020

    UPDATE: On July 3, 2020, the PPP Extension Act was signed into law, extending the application deadline to August 8, 2020. Here is a helpful article that clarifies and explains some common issues around the latest PPP changes.

    UPDATE: On October 8, 2020, the the Small Business Administration issued a new PPP Forgiveness Application Form 3508S and 3508S Instructions for those small businesses that secured a PPP loan of $50,000 or less. The most significant benefit of the new form is that employee reductions and salary reductions are no longer penalized. Additionally, the new form does not require submitting mathematical calculations on how the funds were spent, but it still requires the borrower to submit to the lender evidence (bank statements, invoices, etc.) that the funds were properly spent. Interestingly, the SBA also reduced the lender’s responsibility to “verify” the evidence submitted. SBA just recently began approving PPP forgiveness applications and remitting forgiveness amounts to lenders on October 2, 2020.

    UPDATE: On January 11, 2021, following the COVID Relief bill passed in late December 2020, the SBA announced that it would accept applications for Second Draw PPP Loans from January 13, 2021 to March 31, 2021. At least $25 billion is being set aside for Second Draw PPP Loans to eligible borrowers with a maximum of 10 employees or for loans of $250,000 or less to eligible borrowers in low or moderate income neighborhoods. Additional funds are also available for First Draw PPP Loans. The SBA is also offering guidance for Minority, Underserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Businesses.

  • Employee retention credits may be available to employers that do not make use of the forgivable SBA Paycheck Protection loans. Employers may be eligible for a quarterly refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis, applied to the first $10,000 in compensation per employee (resulting in a credit of up to $5,000). The extent of the credit and eligibility requirements vary depending on whether the employer has more or less than 100 employees. View the FAQs from the IRS.

  • Industry Stabilization fund loans (sometimes referred to as Mid-Sized or Main Street loans) may be available to nonprofits with 500 or more employees that commit to restoring 90% or more of their workforce within four months of the end of the national public health emergency. Additional requirements will apply to future workforce conditions--some of them related to collective bargaining agreements--and will merit careful consideration. Loans will be available at an interest rate of 2% or less, and payments would not be required for the first six months.

    UPDATE: As of May 4, 2020, The Federal Reserve is in the process of broadening the eligibility requirements that will allow nonprofit organizations and a wider array of businesses to apply. Currently, these loans are not forgivable, but have highly favorable terms.

    UPDATE: On June 8, 2020, the Federal Reserve announced the expansion of the Main Street Lending Program to small and medium-size businesses. While these types of loans are not the forgivable type and were previously only available to major corporations, the terms may be attractive and provide much more flexibility for use of funds. $75 billion is being made available for these loans through the CARES Act. The Federal Reserve Board also confirmed that they will soon be announcing an additional loan program specifically for nonprofit organizations.

  • Pandemic unemployment assistance for workers, including self-employed individuals: Unemployment benefits will be expanded to provide an additional $600 per week above the amount allowed under state unemployment benefits, for four months. New relief will be available for workers not eligible for state unemployment benefits, including self-employed individuals who are unable to work due to a number of COVID-related reasons, including "the individual's place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency." Many artists and arts workers who otherwise do not have access to state unemployment benefits may find relief through this provision. Covered dates of unemployment are from January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Details will be worked out in guidelines from the U.S. Department of Labor, and this relief will be administered by states. The Future of Music Coalition has assembled this Google doc for independent contractors and self-employed individuals with state-by-state information on implementation of unemployment benefits.

    UPDATE: As of May 4, 2020, while many states have officially opened the application process for unemployment benefits available to self-employed workers, including artists and arts workers, access to those benefits is challenged by overwhelming demands on state systems. Meanwhile, guidelines issued to states by the U.S. Department of Labor are further restricting access to relief meant to be provided under the CARES Act, as some artists who typically earn a mixture of 1099 and W-2 income report being locked out of opportunities for Pandemic Unemployment Benefits. While APAP and its advocacy partners continue to work toward a solution, we recommend that anyone encountering this roadblock stay in contact with their State Departments of Labor for further details.

  • Relief for nonprofits that self-insure unemployment benefits: Some organizations are among nonprofits that self-insure unemployment benefits rather than pay state unemployment taxes. The federal government will make payments to states to reimburse nonprofits for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits.

  • New charitable giving incentives: Building on years of advocacy in partnership with the broader arts and nonprofit sector, a new universal charitable deduction is available, allowing the growing number of taxpayers who do not itemize their returns to receive a tax deduction of up to $300 for cash charitable donations to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations during calendar year 2020. For taxpayers that itemize returns, the limit on the total percentage of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) eligible for the charitable deduction has been lifted. The limit on corporate contributions has been lifted to 25%.

    UPDATE: As of May 4, 2020, The CARES act created a new giving incentive for taxpayers that do not itemize their tax returns and it also removed the 60% Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) restriction on charitable deductions for those that do itemize their tax returns for the 2020 tax year. While the Internal Revenue Service has not yet issued guidance, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation issued a report on CARES Act provisions on April 23, specifying that the new non-itemizer deduction's $300 cap applies to each "tax filing unit," which means the limitation applies per tax return, regardless whether filed individually, or jointly by a couple. This gives even more urgency to the request made by arts organizations and our colleagues in the broader nonprofit sector to lift the $300 cap and apply this important giving incentive to both 2019 and 2020 returns. More than 140 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to House leadership the week of April 27 in support of this and other provisions that will increase the capacity of the nonprofit sector to serve communities.

  • Dedicated NEA funding for COVID-19 relief: The National Endowment for the Arts will receive $75 million. The agency is authorized to make grants to support general operating expenses, and matching requirements may be waived for grants. Outside of the provisions of the CARES Act, the NEA is also making accommodations for current grantees

    UPDATE: On April 8, 2020, the NEA announced its guidelines to swiftly distribute funding to nonprofit arts organizations. Forty percent of the funds are awarded directly to state and regional arts agencies to distribute through their funding programs. (You can find a list of agencies here.)  Sixty percent of the funds are designated for direct grants to nonprofit arts organizations all across the United States and will be announced by June 30, 2020. All applicants must be previous NEA award recipients from the past four years.

    UPDATE: On July 1, 2020, the NEA announced federal grants of $50,000 each to 846 organization across the U.S. and of $250,000 each to nine local arts agencies. Grants are being broadly distributed across small, medium, and large organizations, and across locations that are urban, rural, and in-between. Learn more

  • Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG): Known popularly as the "Save Our Stages" provision, this grant program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020. The program includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees. SBA is in the process of setting up the grant program and is not yet accepting applications. We highly recommend that you visit the SBA website daily for regular updates. When in doubt, contact your local SBA office for guidance.

    UPDATE: On January 28, 2021, the SBA released the following FAQs. Revisions to the FAQs are frequent, so check back on a regular basis.

    UPDATE: On March 11, 2021, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, it is now permissible to apply for both the latest round of PPP and the SVOG, where fund received through this latest round of PPP will be deducted from your SVOG grant.

    UPDATE: On Friday, March 19, the SBA announced the launch of the application portal for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program as well as the application open date of April 8, 2021.

    UPDATE: On Thursday, April 8, after being open for approximately four hours, the application portal was closed due to technical issues. No applications were successfully submitted at that time.  As they had done for many weeks, field advocates continued to alert the SBA of substantive issues with the application process.

    UPDATE: On Monday, April 26, the application portal was reopened at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) and remains open.

    UPDATE: On Tuesday, May 11, the SBA made available a set of post-application FAQs for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.

Other Updates:

  • The SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program has received additional funding to provide rapid disaster relief loans related to COVID-19. The CARES Act adds an expectation of three-day processing of loan applications for up to $10,000 in emergency funds. The Small Business Administration has advised that all states are in the process of being granted eligibility, and that all interested loan applicants should begin an application now.

    UPDATE: On March 30, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a new streamlined application platform for organizations and self-employed individuals applying for emergency loans directly from the SBA, including $10,000 advance payments that will be forgiven by the federal government.

    UPDATE: On April 24, a supplementary bill was signed into law, providing an additional $50 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and another $10 billion for the SBA's EIDL grants program, which can provide small businesses with a quick infusion of capital worth up to $10,000 each. Please be advised that the SBA may be awaiting the disbursement of funds, if its website indicates it's not accepting applications due to a "lapse in appropriations".

    UPDATE: On June 15, the SBA announced that it has reopened its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, offering long-term, low interest assistance for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including nonprofit organizations. EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll, pay debt, or fund other expenses that are not already covered under a Paycheck Protection Program loan. Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief that does not have to be repaid. Loans are administered by the U.S. Treasury, and applications are made directly to the SBA.

New York City-Specific Relief

Additional Resources

  • Music Covid Relief a resource brought to you by partners in the U.S. Music Community to help music professionals access information and applications to receive benefits made available by the CARES Act (Phase III of the Coronavirus Stimulus bill signed into law March 27, 2020).