COVID-19 News & Resources

Information to Help You Deal with the Coronavirus Outbreak

The Coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak will

dramatically affect the Wyoming arts and culture community for months.

As progress is made on short and long-term support

for Wyoming’s creative economy and its workers,

WyAA will keep you informed on the best way to tap into that support.

 

We’re in this together!

LATEST NEWS – August 20, 2020

The Wyoming Business Council has issued the first payments to Wyoming-based businesses and nonprofits that applied for the COVID-19 Business Relief Program’s Mitigation Fund.

The Mitigation Fund is one of three funds created by the Wyoming Legislature in May to distribute $325 million in federal CARES Act dollars to small businesses and nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mitigation Fund reimburses all Wyoming-based businesses and nonprofits that have incurred employee and customer health and safety expenses as a direct impact of COVID-19. The Mitigation Fund has $40 million available with awards up to $500,000 per eligible entity.

Of the $7.6 million approved to date, $2.2 million has been paid to 70 applicants from the Mitigation Fund. Payments are posted on www.wyopen.gov/wbc, a website created by Wyoming State Auditor Kristi Racines to provide the public with easy access to state of Wyoming expenditures.

“We are pleased to see Mitigation Fund dollars now being distributed solely for costs related to employee and customer health and safety,” Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said. “The Mitigation Fund assistance includes those larger employers that remained operational and kept people safely employed while absorbing health and safety costs they otherwise would not have experienced if not for COVID-19. Other facets of the Business Relief Programs have, and continue to, address losses and expenses as a direct or indirect result of public health orders.”

The Business Council is working through a multi-layered review process of all applications in coordination with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s and Wyoming State Auditor’s offices to distribute funding. These are important steps to ensure funds are used appropriately and according to program rules and US Treasury guidelines in order to prevent future audits and potential repayment of funds with penalties.

Successful applicants of the Interruption Fund, which closed on July 2, received payment within 21 business days from the start of the review process. The Business Council anticipates a similar timeline with these programs, as well.

Eligible businesses and nonprofits can still apply at www.wyobizrelief.org for the Relief and Mitigation Funds. Due to high demand, requests are quickly exhausting available funding. Applicants are not guaranteed funding at this point and may be placed on wait lists. 

As of noon, Aug. 19, the Business Council has received the following applications:

  • Relief Fund (entities that were required to close): 564 applicants requesting $46.8 million

  • Relief Fund (not required to close): 1,676 applicants requesting $136 million

  • Mitigation Fund: 496 applicants requesting $24 million

Note: WBC-reported numbers for funds requested may be greater than funds available because not all funds requested will be approved.

ABOUT THE COVID-19 BUSINESS RELIEF PROGRAM

In May 2020, the Wyoming Legislature created three programs to distribute $325 million in federal CARES Act funding to Wyoming businesses and nonprofits that have experienced hardship related to the COVID-19 crisis. The Wyoming Business Council is distributing these dollars through the COVID-19 Business Relief Program, which has been broken down into three funds – the Interruption Fund, the Relief Fund and the Mitigation Fund. 

Contact Strategic Partnerships Director Ron Gullberg at 307-286-9519 or ron.gullberg@wyo.gov


LATEST NEWS – May 1, 2020

Two new local and regional arts support funds have been announced.

The Wyoming Arts Council, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, has developed a COVID-19 support grant for arts organizations in Wyoming. Applications are open and the deadline to submit an application is Fri., May 15 at 5 p.m. MST. Organizations that meet the eligibility and demonstrate sufficient need are guaranteed to receive a minimum of $5,000.00.

The WESTAF CARES Relief Fund for Organizations is a competitive grant program, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2020. The WESTAF CARES Relief Fund provides general operating support to eligible arts and culture organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will be assessed on the following criteria: inclusivity, demonstrated need, artistic and cultural merit, and public and community benefit. Awards of up to $20,000 will be made to organizations across the WESTAF 13-state region with at least one grant awarded per state.  Because of heavy demand for this grant, the WESTAF CARES Relief Fund for Organizations application process is now CLOSED.


 

LATEST NEWS – April 15, 2020

The Wyoming Arts Council has announced a $500 grant for individual artists based in Wyoming who have lost income due to COVID-19. Applications are now open and will be reviewed on a rolling basis in the order in which they are submitted until grant funds are expended. Artists who have lost a significant portion of their income due to COVID-19 related closures are encouraged to apply. All applicants will be required to show some proof of this income loss.  You can access the application here.

The National Endowment for the Arts has also announced how they will distribute a portion of their special appropriation, provided by the CARES Act.  This special CARES Act grant will award up to $50,000 to arts organizations that have had a previous grant relationship with the NEA over the last four years.  The grant application deadline is April 22nd.  Find information about the grant requirements here.


 

LATEST NEWS – March 27, 2020

Congress has passed a $2 trillion emergency stimulus package that includes important provisions supporting the arts sector and creative workforce. President Trump has signed the package into law.

The nation’s arts and culture industry is experiencing devastating economic losses with closed venues and cancelled performances, exhibitions, and events as a result of the pandemic. This legislation includes direct support for both nonprofit cultural organizations and state and local arts and humanities agencies, as well as economic relief provisions for independent contractors, “gig economy” workers and artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses working in the creative economy.

The bill includes the following arts-related items to address the continuing damage caused by the COVID-19 virus:

Federal Arts Funding (This is a supplement to these agency’s annual appropriations)

  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (All new fast-track grants will be for general operating support with no match requirement)
  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (All new fast-track grants will be for general operating support with no match requirement)
  • $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • $50 million for the Institute of Library and Museum Sciences
  • $25 million for the Kennedy Center
  • $7.5 million for the Smithsonian

Community Development Block Grants, Small Business Administration, and Unemployment Insurance

  • $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants to cities and counties.  Arts groups should work directly with their mayors and local economic development offices for grant support.
  • $350 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency loans of up to $10 million for small businesses—including nonprofits (with less than 500 employees), sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals (like individual artists)—to cover payroll costs, mortgage/rent costs, utilities, and other operations. These loans can be forgiven if used for those purposes. 
  • $10 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for loans up to $10,000 for small businesses and nonprofits to be used for providing paid sick leave for employees, maintaining payroll, mortgage/rent payments, and other operating costs;
  • Expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI) that includes coverage for furloughed workers, freelancers, and “gig economy” workers. The bill also increases UI payments by $600/week for four months, in addition to what one claims under a state unemployment program.

Charitable Giving Tax Deduction

  • An “above-the-line” or universal charitable giving incentive for contributions made in 2020 of up to $300. This provision will now allow all non-itemizer taxpayers (close to 90% of all taxpayers) to deduct charitable contributions from their tax return, an incentive previously unavailable to them. Additionally, the stimulus legislation lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for itemizers from 60 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 100 percent of AGI for contributions made in 2020.

For more on how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the arts, review this Americans for the Arts economic impact dashboard.

If you have an impact to report–lost income, attendance, or other impacts–please do so by following this link.
(We need more Wyoming representation on this survey, so please fill it out if you’ve been negatively affected!)