Vermont Arts Council

COVID-19 Response and Resources

A group class at New England Center for Circus Arts in 2020. Photo: Elsie Smith

*(543 to artists, 529 to cultural nonprofits, and 100 to creative sector for-profits)

Across Vermont, hundreds of museums, theaters, community arts centers, galleries, and dance studios remain among the hardest hit and face an uncertain economic future due to the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. From loss of admissions revenue through ticket sales and memberships, income loss through gift shop and gallery sales to unexpected new expenditures with new cleaning and disinfecting protocols and the rapid adoption of new technologies for online programming – all have taken a huge toll. Although the worst of the crisis may be over, some audiences remain hesitant to return to indoor spaces.

In an early study of the pandemic’s impact, Vermont’s creative sector lost over 8,000 jobs and sales of over $216 million between April and July of 2020, according to a Brookings Institution report. In a more recent analysis, the 197 cultural organizations that applied for the Council’s Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grant Program in 2021 reported $36 million in lost revenue from April 2020 to mid-2021.

Increased funding through the state legislature, new partnerships, and private donations has been vital to help support Vermont’s creative sector—a sector that has proven crucial to Vermont’s economic development and community vitality. Through September 2023, the Council has made 543 awards to artists, 529 to cultural organizations, and 100 to creative sector for-profits, totaling more than $14 million. Grants have been awarded through partnerships with Vermont Humanities, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and with CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act funds distributed through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Support for individual artists was also made possible through new philanthropic partnerships with the Vermont Community Foundation and the New England Foundation for the Arts, and by generous contributions from Higher Ground and other donors.

The Council’s Covid-19 aid through September 2023 includes:

View a complete list of Council-administered Covid aid to Vermont organizations through September 2023.

In addition, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and the Vermont Recreation and Parks Association and with funding from the Community Foundation, in the summer and fall of 2021, the Council provided $1,500 sponsorships to 21 outdoor event series across the state through the Stages in the Sun program.

Not reflected in the above data, Vermont arts and cultural organizations also received separate funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants from the US Small Business Administration.


Creative Futures Grant Program

During the 2022 state legislative session, the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Creative Network advocated for increased investment in economic recovery for the creative sector. One outcome of this session (a part of Act 183) was an unprecedented allocation of $9 million of funds to the Vermont Arts Council for grants to creative sector entities that have sustained economic harm due to the pandemic. The Creative Futures Grant Program was supported by funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Learn more.




Digital Capacity Grant Program

Funded by a one-time $1.15 million allocation from the Vermont legislature to help build the digital capacity of Vermont cultural organizations, the Digital Capacity Grant Program was intended to support Vermont’s arts and culture organizations by providing them with the skills, equipment, and expertise they need to serve their audiences and community.

Read the Digital Capacity Program report.





Cover image for Pandemic Recovery in Vermont's Cultural Sector ReportCultural Recovery Grant Program

The Vermont Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grant Program was a partnership between Vermont Humanities and the Vermont Arts Council to provide funding to arts and humanities organizations facing financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Funding for the program was provided primarily from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Read the Pandemic Recovery in Vermont’s Cultural Sector Report.




CARES Act Report to the CommunityCultural Relief Grant Program

In March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Vermont, the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities together developed the Cultural Relief Grant Program to deliver urgently needed economic aid to struggling cultural organizations. The final report, our “Cares Act Report to the Community,” tells the story about this joint program that brought $781,000 in a matter of weeks to 123 cultural organizations across Vermont in all 14 counties.

Read the CARES Act Report to the Community.

In the Press: Covid-19 and Vermont’s Creative Sector

NEK Received Over $1 Million In Arts Grants | Caledonian Record, Sept. 20, 2023

Theatre Adventure receives grant from Vermont Arts Council | The Commons, Feb. 10, 2023

Our View: Why the arts matter | Bennington Banner, Jan. 11, 2023

‘Exactly what’s needed:’ ARPA funds provide boost for Southern Vermont art establishments | Manchester Journal, Jan. 10, 2023

The Vermont Arts Council announces new grants to revive the state’s creative sector | Vermont Public, Sept. 28, 2022

Scott signs $84.5 million workforce and economic development legislation into law | VermontBiz, Sept. 28, 2022

Vermont Arts Organizations Awarded $500,000 for Pandemic Recovery | Seven Days, Jan. 28, 2022

The Lowe Down: The arts beat COVID in 2021 | Rutland Herald, Jan. 8, 2022

Vermont Creative Network Seeks $17.5 Million From Legislature | Seven Days, Nov. 3, 2021

Vermont Congressman Meets With Constituent Groups To Discuss COVID Relief Bill | WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, March 9, 2021

For the creative economy, dual tracks of recovery and resilience | The Commons, Feb. 17, 2021

Vermont Arts Council is helping artists and arts organizations survive Covid | VTDigger, Feb. 14, 2021

What has the COVID-19 pandemic cost Vermont’s creative sector? We’ve got the numbers. | Burlington Free Press | November 25

‘Art Excursions in the Time of COVID’: Regional tours to enjoy the arts of Vermont | Times Argus, October 31

$76M available in third-round of small business grants | WCAX, October 20

Can Rural Arts Orgs Weather The Pandemic | Vermont Public Radio, August 19

The South End Art Hop Is On—Just Differently | Seven Days, August 5

Weston, Dorset win $50K each in arts relief funds | Bennington Banner, July 19

Hit hard by pandemic, Vermont Youth Orchestra receives grant | Saint Albans Messenger, July 16

Vermont arts and cultural groups get boost from feds, state | Seven Days, July 8

Weston Playhouse Theatre Company Awarded Grant From the National Endowment for the Arts | Broadway World, July 8

Arts and Culture Nonprofits to Receive $5 Million in State Relief Grants | Seven Days, July 7

Vermont Arts and Culture Organizations Awarded $600,000 in Relief Funding | Seven Days, July 3

New Vt. Venue Allows for Live Concerts Again—Drive-in Style | NECN, June 11

The Lowe Down: Where are our arts? | Times Argus, June 6

The state allowed museums to reopen June 1. But how many are welcoming visitors? | Burlington Free Press, June 4

Our opinion: Saving the arts a worthy use of federal funds | Brattleboro Reformer, June 3

Arts Organizations Grapple With Funding Issues | Caledonian Record, May 28

Rapid relief reaches artists in communities across Vermont | Vermont Business Magazine, May 27

The art of family quarantine: Mom, dad, kids reenact paintings at home | Brattleboro Reformer, May 27

Museums and Historical Societies Await Reopening Guidelines | Seven Days, May 27

Vermont Arts Organizations Face Economic Fallout in the Pandemic | Seven Days, May 20

Camp Conundrum: COVID-19 Complicates a Rite of Summer | Seven Days, May 20

First to close, last to open: Performing arts venues face dire conditions | Seven Days, May 13

What will the post-pandemic arts scene look like? | Bennington Banner, May 9

Virtual Ventures 3: Shelburne Museum, Wildflowers and Artist Relief | Seven Days, May 6

Molly S. Burke and Sara Coffey: The importance of the creative economy in Vermont’s recovery | Brattleboro Reformer, May 6

Disaster Preparedness Network Helps Vermont Arts Sector | Seven Days, May 6

Dance Studios, Students and Artists Improvise and Keep Moving | Seven Days, April 29

Vermont Humanities and Vermont Arts Council to aid organizations with COVID-19 relief | Vermont Business Magazine, April 26

Local Musicians Unite For Vermont Foodbank Compilation | Seven Days, May 4

Yellow Barn Brings Music On The Road To Ease COVID Stress | Vermont Public Radio, May 4

Music is essential: Vermont musicians bring solace to their communities | Times Argus, May 2

Vermont Arts Council: The arts are struggling, but hardly giving up | Rutland Herald, April 25

In a Pandemic, Vermont Radio Programs Keep Us Tuned In | Seven Days, April 22

Emergency Relief Grants Help Artists in Time of Isolation | Seven Days, April 22

Arts organizations close their doors, cancel events amid pandemic | VTDigger, April 22

A Roundup of Virtual Ventures from Vermont’s Creative Sector | Seven Days, April 22

Nonprofits feeling the pinch after economic uncertainty | WCAX, April 17

Stuck in Vermont: Communities Come Together During the Pandemic (Video) | Seven Days, April 9

Major Jackson and Other Vermont Poets Bring Verse to the Socially Distant | Seven Days, April 8

Arts, culture organizations make adjustments | Bennington Banner, April 3

More Artists Invent Creative Ways to Reach Viewers Online | Seven Days, April 1

Vermont Art Online Brings Exhibits to Stuck-at-Home Viewers | Seven Days, March 25

Major venues optimistic they can survive shutdown | Times Argus, March 21

The Flynn Has Laid Off or Furloughed 12 Employees | Seven Days, March 20

When there’s no audience… Coping with rapid change organizations do their best | Brattleboro Reformer, March 20

How Local Performing Arts Venues Are Reacting to COVID-19 | Seven Days, March 18

admin-place March 12, 2020