Maryland State Arts Council Awards $1 Million in Emergency Grant Funding to 125 Arts Organizations and Independent Artists

The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency of the Maryland Department of Commerce, announced awards totaling $1 million dollars to support arts organizations and independent artists across the state during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The funding will help adjust to losses sustained because of modified or cancelled programming and/or operations. MSAC received 155 eligible requests totaling $2.6 million by the May 1 deadline. Based on staff evaluation of applications against a rubric that considered the needs of the artist or organization relative to the available funding, the Council approved grants for 64 arts organizations totaling $869,318 and 61 independent artists totaling $128,682. For a full list of grantees, visit

“The arts are an important economic generator in Maryland, but they are also vital to our quality of life and rich culture,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “It was important to support Maryland’s artists and arts organizations through this challenging time as the strength of our creative community will help in our overall recovery efforts and ensure Maryland remains one of the best places to experience the arts.”The Emergency Grant program was developed from recommendations provided by members of Maryland’s arts community during listening sessions conducted by MSAC shortly after the State of Emergency was declared due to COVID-19.

“The MSAC staff and board responded with great urgency to the needs expressed by more than 1,000 artists and leaders of arts organizations,” said Ken Skrzesz, MSAC’s Executive Director. “The Emergency Grant, with the full support of the leadership at Maryland Commerce, was developed, announced, reviewed, and funded as quickly as possible to bolster Maryland creatives in this difficult time.” 

A portion of MSAC’s Emergency Grant funding comes from a $467,900 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act recognizes that the nonprofit arts industry is an important sector of America’s economy, and NEA grants to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations ensure distribution of federal funds throughout the county. Additional funding for Emergency Grants comes from MSAC’s annual appropriation from the State of Maryland.

“I am so grateful and thrilled to be a recipient of an MSAC emergency grant,” said Anne Nesmith, an independent artist from Baltimore City. “Artists and arts organizations have been especially surprised by the pandemic and I am impressed by the work your programs department is doing under normal circumstances, much less on an inflated scale, to support the community.”

Louise Kennelly, executive director of the Frederick Arts Council, said, “This support will make all of the difference in our ability to remain stable and strong for the rest of the arts community in Frederick.”

About Maryland State Arts Council
Founded in 1967, MSAC is an agency of the State of Maryland Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts that plays an essential role, ensuring every person has access to the transformative power of the arts. MSAC advances the arts in our state 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. To do this, the agency awards grants to not-for-profit, tax-exempt organizations for ongoing arts programming and projects, awards grants to individual artists, and provides technical and advisory assistance to individuals and groups. MSAC receives its funds in an annual appropriation from the State of Maryland and from grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Council may also receive contributions from private, non-governmental sources. For more information, go to

— from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC)

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