April 21, 2009

New Mexico Arts: Set to Boost Economy

The arts have helped shape the history of the human race: defining ages; preserving cultures; and providing a livelihood to individuals gifted in its genre. In relation to funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the arts are now designated for support for the preservation of jobs in today’s economic climate. Distributed by the National Endowment for the Arts, this allotment is intended to fund arts projects that preserve jobs in the non-profit arts sector that are threatened by declines in financial support.

There are two million trained, entrepreneurial artists that work across the country and represent 1.4 percent of the nation’s labor force, as reported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Supporters of the funding state that arts and culture industries provide direct economic benefits by not only creating jobs, but by attracting investments, generating tax revenues, and encouraging tourism and consumer purchases.

Nationally a multitude of arts institutions have experienced negative affects from the economy, with Philanthropy News Digest reporting impacts to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Locally, The New Mexican reports that most arts professionals in Santa Fe have experienced a serious drop in business, resulting in a reduction of business hours, relocation, and even closures. The NEA plans to combat economic blows such as these by distributing 40 percent of the $50 million in recovery money to official arts agencies in each state, while most of the remainder will be distributed in direct grants to artists and organizations around the nation.

New Mexico is a state that has long been recognized as a haven for professional artists – from the exquisite arts district of Santa Fe to proud Indian pueblos and distinctive Hispanic neighborhoods – and is now a state set to receive Recovery Act funds from the NEA through New Mexico Arts (our state arts agency).  The agency successfully vied for these federal funds to preserve arts jobs in New Mexico, and on April 10, 2009 Governor Bill Richardson announced that New Mexico Arts was awarded $279,000 from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

New Mexico Arts plans to distribute the bulk of this funding to nonprofit arts organizations that have received an arts grant from the agency in the last three years (FY07-FY09), or are a current FY10 applicant in good standing. These organizations may apply for grants: 1) up to $20,000 in salary support for an arts job that has been jeopardized by the economy; or 2) up to $7,500 for artists’ fees or contractors. Approximately 15 to 20 grants will be awarded and priority will be given to organizations that serve traditionally underserved populations.

So, arts organizations, pick up your pens, position your thinking caps and keep a keen eye out for the initial call for applications that will appear later this spring. We at The Grant Plant will be wielding a watchful eye, as well.



Wendy McCoy, Resource Development Officer, wendy@thegrantplantNM.com


Fairfield, D. Keeping Art Alive. The New Mexican, March 3, 2009.

Fecteau, L. Governor Bill Richardson Announces $297,000 in Federal Recovery Funds for Arts Jobs in New Mexico, Press Release from the Office of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, April 10, 2009.

Hutter, V. Information regarding the arts and economic stimulus. National Endowment for the Arts, January 29, 2009.

Kranish, M. Stimulus funding for arts hits nerve, The Boston Globe, February 5, 2009.

Philanthropy News Digest. Museums Hurt by Economic Downturn Cut Hours, Staff, January 30, 2009.

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