Dear APAP Members and Colleagues,

We hope this finds you as well as can be expected in these unprecedented times. Today we have the first of many future detailed updates on federal COVID-19 relief.

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is expected to be signed into law today. We want to take a moment to highlight key components of the bill that arts organizations, arts workers and artists will be able to access, including relief for non-profit organizations, small businesses, and self-employed individuals. You can read the full text of the bill and the Senate's section-by-section summary .

Before we get into the details, we'd like to thank our colleagues at the League of American Orchestras for their in-depth analysis and Americans for the Arts for its informative updates . The National Council of Nonprofits has also published a helpful guide of what's in the bill for nonprofits .

The CARES Act : This is the third economic aid and relief stimulus package and the largest to date. As with all federal programs, regulations and guidelines are in development. Key items of the bill include:

  • Paycheck Protection COVID-19 relief loans, backed by the Small Business Administration, and forgiven by the federal government. 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. Loans will be provided by local lending institutions that are authorized by the Small Business Administration (SBA). 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.

  • 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.

  • Industry Stabilization fund 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. Loans will be available at an interest rate of 2% or less, and payments would not be required for the first six months.

  • 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. 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.

  • 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 (nearly 90% of all taxpayers) to deduct charitable contributions from their tax returns, an incentive previously unavailable to them.

  • Dedicated NEA funding for COVID-19 relief. The National Endowment for the Arts will receive $75 million. 40% of these funds will be managed through state arts agencies and regional arts organizations, and 60% through direct NEA grants. The agency is authorized to make grants to support general operating expenses, and matching requirements may be waived for grants. The NEA will be rapidly providing more information about grant opportunities. Outside of the provisions of this bill, the NEA is also making accommodations for current grantees.

Important Updates on Earlier COVID Relief Provisions:

  • 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 originate an application now.

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) paid leave provisions, signed into law on March 18, included paid leave mandates for employees, relief for employers (including nonprofit employers) that provide the paid leave, and comparable leave provisions for self-employed workers. Read the League of American Orchestra's overview on paid leave provisions. Details are expected soon as regulations and guidelines are currently being drafted by federal agencies.

APAP will continue to work alongside our national partners to advocate for legislation that protects performing arts organizations, small businesses and artists. This latest COVID-19 relief bill is expected to be followed by additional substantial legislation packages in the coming months. Our collective 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 .

This is just the beginning of a very long journey through this crisis and through recovery. We will be with you every step of the way.

We encourage you to forward this message to your colleagues.
Mario Garcia Durham
President and CEO, APAP