Denver Arts & Venues Offers CARES Act Grants to Artists and Venues

Musicians and venues continue to struggle through the COVID-19 shutdown. Seen here: Los Mocochetes at Levitt Pavilion.EXPAND
Musicians and venues continue to struggle through the COVID-19 shutdown. Seen here: Los Mocochetes at Levitt Pavilion.
Jake Cox

Despite a smattering of live events returning in a limited capacity, those who once made a living in Denver's performing arts and music industries are still suffering, and Denver Arts & Venues is offering another round of support from federal funds in an attempt to help out.

The city, which received $126.8 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding, will be granting $700,000 of that CARES Act money to Denver's flailing independent performing arts and music venues, and around $300,000 to individual artists in a second round of distributions.

“The COVID pandemic has had a devastating impact on our creative arts community and the venues and employees who support it,” notes Mayor Michael B. Hancock in a statement. “These phase two funds will help provide some relief until we are all able to once again safely enjoy the work of the talented artists who are the foundation of Denver’s rich, creative culture.”

Still, the individual grants are a relative pittance considering what individuals and institutions are facing. The CARES Artist Relief Fund will offer $1,000 to artists in the City and County of Denver — $60 shy of the $1,060 median rental of a one-bedroom apartment in town in August, according to Apartment List. Venues will be eligible for up to $25,000, a fraction of the monthly rent at some local spots.

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Without significant federal relief, many of these independent venues are on the brink of closure, and their former employees are on the edge, too.

Ginger White, the head of Arts & Venues, knows the economic realities all too well. Her city agency, which is funded largely by live events at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Denver Performing Arts Complex, furloughed all part- and full-time employees through at least the end of the year.

Between April and July, the creative community lost around 30,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in sales because of COVID-19, she points out.

“We will continue to advocate for direct funding for our artists and the independent performing arts and music venues across Denver that were among the first to close and will be the last to reopen fully,” White says. The current round of funds will prioritize artists who are most in need and those from historically marginalized communities, including BIPOC, LGBTQ people and those with disabilities who are financially vulnerable.

Applications will be accepted from noon Monday, October 5, until 11:59 p.m. on October 18. They will be reviewed by the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs and approved within thirty days. RedLine Contemporary Art Center, which has administered funds from Colorado Creative Industries, Arts & Venues and other organizations in recent months, will continue in that role.

For information and applications, go to the new fund's website. Head to the RedLine and Colorado Creative Industries websites for lists of more COVID-19 relief funds. 

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