By Gary Steuer, CEO & President
The COVID-19 crisis is having a profound impact on the health of our cultural organizations and artists. Organizations have been closed, shows and concerts cancelled, fundraisers cancelled, or indefinitely postponed, rental events cancelled. These organizations are doing their best to continue to pay staff, both salaried and hourly, as well as artists.
The Foundation has, of course, been thinking about how we can best respond with direct and immediate assistance for our grantees. We have also decided that it is not reasonable to create an emergency fund that groups would have to apply for as virtually all our grantees are affected, and an application process would create an additional burden for organizations and our limited staff.
Unrestricted emergency funding is being provided to 43 arts & culture organizations who have received general operating and program support from Bonfils-Stanton Foundation in the past 18 months. These Denver-based organizations offer ongoing public arts & culture programming and are at risk for earned revenue loss due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The funding amount is based on 10% of their most recent grant, with a $6,000 cap. The total grant commitment is approximately $125,000.
These grants will not require any sort of application or final report. The funding has already been released. Much has been written about how funders are taking this opportunity to shift their existing funding towards unrestricted support. The vast majority of our funding is already general operating support. We trust our grantees, and these grants are a further demonstration of that trust.
Like all foundations, our corpus (the endowment out of which we make our grants) is down significantly due to declines in the market, but this is not the time to worry about preservation of capital. It is a time for us to be there for our community. The market will rebound at some point, but many of our more fragile cultural organizations may not. Many artists and arts organizations are already finding innovative ways to use their capacity to continue to serve our community, bringing joy, artistry, learning and compassion to people through digital platforms.
We hope this direct and immediate response will inspire other funders. We also hope that when solutions to the crisis are being developed at local, state and national levels they will consider the critical need to support and sustain our artists and arts organizations.
We fully expect that this action will need to be followed by other investments and we are prepared to do what is needed to support our community’s cultural vibrancy during this time of crisis.
In addition, we are striving to be a source of up-to-date information and resources for our cultural community, and have created an area of our website that we will continually update with new information at https://bonfils-stantonfoundation.org/colorado-coronavirus/.