Toledo offers arts and culture grants with ARPA-funded $6 million

Toledo’s Economic Development Office said the local arts and culture scene needs additional help after being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo-area artists could be eligible for thousands of dollars a year from the Arts Commission as part of the city’s plan to use $6 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to protect the arts and culture of the Glass City after it was disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local artist Connor Degnan said the money was a much-needed shot in the arm for the arts community in the wake of the pandemic.

Degnan, the co-owner of the River East Gallery in east Toledo, said he created some of his best artworks during the lockdown but no one was able to see them for almost a year.

“Without the public being able to come in and be comfortable and show people paintings and stuff like that, it was definitely a challenge,” he said.

This challenge was a financial blow for all local artists.

According to the City of Toledo Economic Development Office, the economic output of Lucas County’s creatives fell nearly 8% from 2019 to 2020 as venues and galleries closed due to the pandemic, a huge drop for an industry that grossed nearly $2 billion in 2019.

“We have long known that the creative community in the Toledo area has an outsized impact on the local economy,” said Sandy Spang, Toledo Deputy Director of Economic Development.

However, Spang hopes grants from ARPA funds will help revitalize the local arts scene.

“This program will help them capitalize on the losses they had during COVID and be able to grow in the future,” she said.

The grant application contains three different groups that can apply: small, medium and large organizations.

Large institutions like the Toledo Zoo or the Toledo Museum of Art are eligible for up to $150,000 per year. However, small organizations with operating budgets of $300,000 or less may be eligible for anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000.

For small owners like Degnan, he said this new program could have a massive positive impact on the local arts scene in Toledo.

“This type of funding would really help the arts community in Toledo, which in turn can help everyone,” he said. “And the whole community because I believe it creates a positive environment for everyone.”

The application deadline for scholarships is November 16th.

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