Emergency fund for Denver arts & culture organizations established; Bonfils-Stanton Foundation donates $1 million to cause

The Denver Foundation

As Denver arts & culture organizations are hit with an unprecedented loss in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, The Denver Foundation, and Create Boulder. have teamed up to create an emergency fund aimed at helping metro Denver small and mid-sized arts & culture organizations survive this crisis.

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation has committed $1 million toward the COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund and The Denver Foundation, which will also administer the fund, will donate $50,000. Create Boulder is also contributing to this fund and will be involved in the review process. Other early donors to the fund are Denver Arts & Venues at $205,000, Gates Family Foundation at $100,000 and PNC at $10,000. The fund also has commitments from individual donors, including Hal and Ann Logan and Jeremy and Susan Shamos, and seeks additional contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals.

“The cultural sector is critical to our quality of life, to our humanity, to our community vibrancy and diversity, and touches all of us in so many ways,” says Gary Steuer, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation President and CEO. “We must ensure that when we come through this crisis, the diverse cultural ecosystem that makes our community so special is still there to enrich our lives.”

According to national research gathered by Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the median loss for nonprofit arts organizations in the country was $38,000 as of April 7, so clearly it is already much greater than that. With about 450 organizations in Colorado, that equates to a $17 million hit to the arts and culture sector across the state, the bulk of it in the Denver metro area. The losses will only continue to mount as arts performances and gatherings and fundraising galas are canceled and sales tax revenues decline as this pandemic continues into the summer.

“The impact has been particularly acute on small and mid-sized organizations, which are more likely to have staff on payroll, a facility to maintain, and other fixed overhead costs, without an endowment, cash reserves, or wealthy boards to help offset the losses caused by this crisis,” explains Tariana Navas-Nieves, Director of Cultural Affairs, Denver Arts & Venues. “The COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund will be aimed at helping these organizations that are hit hardest by this crisis, and the City of Denver is pleased to be able to contribute to this effort.” 

Grant awards will range between $5,000 to $50,000 per organization, with the goal of injecting much-needed revenue to keep organizations afloat. Application details will be announced soon, but partners hope to open applications in early June with a deadline at the end of June. Decisions will be made by a panel in July with award distribution in August. With robust donations, a second application cycle could be opened in the fall.

“The Denver Foundation is pleased to partner with Bonfils-Stanton Foundation on this important and timely project,” says Javier Alberto Soto, President & CEO of The Denver Foundation. “We have a long history of supporting the arts, because we recognize that the arts are an essential part of a thriving and vibrant community. We also know that artists and the creative industries will play an important role in helping our community recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This Fund will help ensure they can continue to make Metro Denver better for everyone."

Grants will be awarded of $5,000 to $50,000 per organization, with the goal of injecting much-needed revenue to keep organizations afloat. The COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund is currently in the fundraising stage, the application process will open in mid to late June.

COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund donations can be made on The Denver Foundation’s website here.

Click here to read the Request for Proposals and Application and Guidelines document for the COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund.

Nonprofits who wish to apply for funding from the COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund are required to use the Foundation's online grant application portal, Spectrum, to submit their request. New Organizations: An Organization Admin must register your nonprofit or neighborhood group in our online grantmaking system. Returning Users: Visit the grant application portal login page. 

If you have any questions about The COVID-19 Arts and Culture Relief Fund, please contact Vice President of Community Impact, Dace West.
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