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Arts Funding Bill Before the 130th Legislature

by Sarah Skillin Woodard

May 6, 2021 Update: There are several bills before the legislature pertaining to possible relief for arts-related nonprofit organizations. We’re anticipating they will all be tabled and considered together, especially in light of the federal SVOG program and the governor’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan.

We will be providing more information as we obtain it, but in the meantime, we highly encourage arts-related venues to apply for an SVOG immediately. Funding is first come, first served.

LD 1566 (Emergency) Resolve, Directing the Department of Economic and Community Development To Create and Administer a Fund for Live Entertainment Venue, Performer and Worker and Public Art Recovery Grants.

Here is a summary of the bill:

  • $10M from state, $20M from American Rescue Plan funding (unless there are federal restrictions against it)
  • Businesses must have a sales & use tax with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services
  • Would be broken up into three buckets: Live “Entertainment” Venue ($15M), Direct grants to self-employed individual artists ($7.5M, and public art funding ($7.5M).
  • In addition to nonprofits, it would include movie theaters, sporting venues, harness racing tracks and more. The definition of “entertainment” will become clearer as the bill moves through the committee.
  • Businesses must have “gross annual sales” between $24K and $12M in 2019.
  • The grant amount will be determined by finding the difference between 2019 gross sales and 2020 gross sales minus any relief funding, state or federal (forgiven or not) subsequent to March 1, 2020.
  • There’s wide latitude in how the funding can be spent: payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, PPE, business equipment, “investments” in long-term stability, other operating expenses.
  • The grants will be considered taxable income – even the federal ARPA funding component.
  • This is first-come, first-served, but priority is given to those who received less than 45% of their 2019 gross income from another emergency or recovery grant program.

The bill should fund both nonprofits and for-profits and that it was submitted as a Resolve, meaning it directs the Department of Economic Development to establish the program and parameters.

Submit written testimony for the public hearing here. You can also sign up to testify live (for three minutes or less) to support the bill at the same link. It does not have to be long – just a few words about how Covid-19 has affected your organization, the importance of the arts, and the need for support. You can also view the hearing live on YouTube. This same link will provide you with a recording of the hearing if you cannot make it live. 

Please reach out with questions to Carla Pugliese, ED of the Cultural Alliance of Maine, at cp@carlapugliese.com or Sarah Woodard, MANP’s Advocacy Director, at swoodard@nonprofitmaine.org.

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