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Governor Moore announces record investment in Maryland arts organizations through Arts Relief initiative

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ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Wes Moore has announced a record investment in Maryland arts organizations through the state’s Arts Relief initiative. Through $40 million in supplemental funding added to the Maryland State Arts Council’s annual appropriation of $28.9 million in FY23, this record investment is helping arts organizations cope with the lasting financial impacts of the pandemic, spurring arts projects and employment in all 24 Maryland jurisdictions, and has elevated Maryland to second in the nation in per capita spending on the arts in FY23.

“Even as the world continues to reopen, we know that many arts organizations are finding it difficult to return to pre-pandemic audience levels. The same is true for artists, who are still getting back on their feet after recent challenges,” said Gov. Moore. “Thanks to this historic investment, which illustrates how much we value a strong creative economy, our arts ecosystem is poised to thrive in the coming years.”

The Maryland State Arts Council is an agency of the State of Maryland Department of Commerce Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, which plays an essential role in ensuring every Marylander has access to the transformative power of the arts. The council advances the arts by providing leadership that champions creative expression, diverse programming, equitable access, lifelong learning, and the arts as a celebrated contributor to the quality of life for all the people of Maryland. The council awards grants to tax-exempt organizations and individual artists, in addition to providing technical assistance to individuals and groups.

The Arts Relief initiative provided operating and project funding for organizations and artists, with many grants assisting with debt relief, long-term investments, and artists’ living expenses. In addition to growing that Maryland State Arts Council’s budget by 138%, Arts Relief funding led to the following increases:

  • 282% more operating grants
  • 209% more grants to artists
  • 164% more grants to organizations
  • 55% more project grants

Arts Relief funding decisions were made with the oversight of a 17-member council comprising Maryland citizens and legislators that advises the work of the MSAC staff. With the addition of the Arts Relief initiative, MSAC administered a total of 2,500 grants in FY23, more than three times its usual volume.

“This really is an amazing investment from MSAC in Imagination Stage and the whole arts sector. Plus, the flexibility regarding the use of funds and the simplicity of the application are also incredible gifts to our community!” said a representative from Imagination Stage, Montgomery County.

“This has been absolutely beneficial from both a financial and mental well being perspective. The peace of mind and help this has granted cannot be overstated. Thank you all so very much,” said Artist Joe Brawn of Allegany County.

“The [Arts Relief] funds have instantly removed stressors about covering this fiscal year’s expenses and will, at minimum, make it possible for us to plan further out into the future and concentrate more on strengthening community partnerships,” said a representative from the Asian Arts & Culture Center at Towson University in Baltimore County.

“The Lower Eastern Shore region of Maryland has been devastated by the impact of multi-year pandemic shutdowns, because so much of our very modest income and employment opportunities are connected to small or tourism-based businesses and venues. The support from [MSAC] gives me the flexibility to continue to work as an artist,” said Artist Sheila Cherry of Worcester County.

The Maryland State Arts Council receives its funds in an annual appropriation from the State of Maryland and from grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. The council may also receive contributions from private, non-governmental sources. More information is available at https://www.msac.org.

A more detailed overview of the funding is available in the Maryland State Arts Council’s FY23 Annual Report (PDF).

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