The Arts in North Carolina and COVID-19


Message from the Director

Dear friends and colleagues:

I know that this letter will reach North Carolinians who are deeply concerned about the changing cultural landscape of our state as we cope with the effects of COVID-19. I feel that anxiety, too. There is some positive news, however, that I want to make certain you hear.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) — a $2 trillion bill approved by Congress last week — benefits both our nonprofit and for-profit arts sectors in North Carolina.
For organizations: As part of the package, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will distribute $75 million in funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the United States. At least 40 percent of these funds will go directly to state arts agencies. In North Carolina we intend to use these resources as stimulus funding to arts groups and artists. The remaining money that the NEA distributes will be granted directly to local arts organizations and can be used for operational support — a first for the NEA. 
Other aspects of the relief package relevant to the arts sector are loans through the Small Business Administration. Non-profit organizations, sole-proprietorships, and independent contractors are eligible to apply.  Some of these loans are “forgivable” to encourage retaining workers and function more like grants. (See the article here for a synopsis of these loan programs.) The Small Business Administration collaborates with 1,800 approved lenders to process loans. If you’re interested in securing one, get in touch with your bank to see if it’s part of this network. If not, you can find a list of SBA-approved lenders here.
For artists: Federal unemployment benefits are offered now to those who are part of the gig economy, and they include artists and other creative workers. The new benefits cover the weeks ending April 4 through July 31. In North Carolina, the Division of Employment Security administers unemployment insurance, so applications will be made through this agency. Keep in mind that patience may be necessary as federal guidelines are interpreted and implemented.
These opportunities are prompting many questions — and some confusion. Our challenge is pointing you in the right direction to seek and receive assistance. We’ll continue to collaborate with Arts North Carolina to give you timely information.
With gratitude for all that you do,

Wayne Martin

Wayne Martin, Executive Director
North Carolina Arts Council

Previous COVID-19 Messages


New Funds Established to Assist Artists in NC

Many organizations have mobilized to help artists across our state. If you would like us to add your organization to the list, please email

  • NC Artist Relief Fund has been established to support artists and arts presenters across North Carolina. The Visual Arts Exchange, Artspace, PineCone and the United Arts of Council of Raleigh are working together to ease the financial impact of creatives in our state/
  • NorthStar Church of the Arts, founded by the late Philip Freelon and his family, has established a relief fund for artists living and working in Durham. Find out more here.
  • The Durham Arts Council has launched the DAC Arts Recovery Fund with initial support from Duke University, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and the Durham Arts Council Board of Trustees. Gifts from individuals, corporate and public funders encouraged. In partnership with the Durham Artist Relief Fund established by Northstar Church of the Arts, the two funds will support, cross-promote, and coordinate with each other to maximize resources available to the arts community. To support click here.
  • Music Makers Relief Foundation is raising money to provide services for musicians from grocery shopping, transportation to medical appointments and payment for canceled gigs. Find out more here.
  • ArtsGreensboro has launched via social media and other outlets the Greensboro Artist Emergency Fund for working artists in the Greater Greensboro area who have lost fees, commissions, sales, and other income-generating activities. ArtsGreensboro is asking the community to help sustain artists through this challenging time. Give to the campaign here. Apply for funding here.
  • Orange County Arts Support Fund will initially provide seed funding for canceled events. Donations can be sent to: Orange County Arts Commission 437 Dimmock’s Mill Road, Box 27, Hillsborough, NC 27278. Please memo “OCASF.” Online donations can be made via a Go Fund Me here.
  • Pitt County Arts Relief Fund will support artists and arts organizations in Pitt County. Click here to support their creative economy.  


Resources for Artists

Resources for Organizations