SAN ANTONIO – Following a pandemic that has cost them more than $50 million combined, the San Antonio City Council on Thursday approved the final list of 46 local nonprofit arts organizations and 136 artists to split $5 million in dollars federal relief.
“We don’t give them alms. We’re offering them a helping hand so they can continue what they’ve been doing,” District 9 Councilman John Courage said, ahead of Thursday’s 9-1 vote.
The vast majority of bands (85%) and artists (90%) who applied to the city for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money received it. The city had a variety of eligibility criteria, but all applicants had to show “disproportionate” COVID-19 impact.
Qualifying nonprofits, which include theaters, museums and arts education groups, had reported losses of $47 million, according to the city. Now they will receive $4 million in grants, ranging from $3,261 for “The AM Project” to $261,986 for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, which is one of 11 “culture-specific” organizations that have had the chance to obtain additional funds.
Professional artists had reported losses of $3.5 million and will now split $1 million, each receiving $7,200 to $7,500.
The city said the majority of them are either musicians (39%) or visual artists (34%).
Author Xelena Gonzalez said it was a “huge relief” to hear she would be getting the money. Much of her income comes from being a guest writer, she said, and her gigs all disappeared “overnight” when the pandemic first arrived.
“I think like with all artists, you know, unless you have the basics secure – home, security and food and that kind of stuff – it’s really hard, you know, to dream more big and creating art,” Gonzalez said.
The city said creating new work and covering housing and living expenses were the two most common planned expenses for individual artists, while paying their employees and funding existing programs were listed as the most common. top of the list for non-profit groups.
Jon Hinojosa, president of SAY Si and board member of Culture and Arts United for San Antonio (CAUSA), had supported sharing the $5 million between talent agencies and individual artists.
SAY Si, which provides free arts education to local students, will now receive the third-highest grant amount, $256,128, which he called “vital and important to us.”
“It will support our staff. He will support the new staff. This is going to sustain the funding and support that we need to build,” Hinojosa said.
The board’s decision to spend part of ARPA’s $327 million stimulus fund pot was not new. It adopted an “expenditure framework” in February for the $199.4 million in ARPA dollars it had left, including the $5 million for the arts.
Then, in June, board members approved the details of the grant program.
However, that didn’t stop District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry from being the only one to vote against the final list of grant recipients on Thursday. The councilman on the northeast side has always been a proponent of using more federal relief dollars to help small businesses.
“So I still stand by my guns that this money should have been added to the small business community and competed like other small businesses for this – for these opportunities,” Perry said.
District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo was not present at Thursday’s meeting.
The city has an additional $7.2 million for arts organizations, events and artists across the Budget 2023.
Copyright 2022 by KSAT – All rights reserved.