On Thursday, July 2, 2020, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) announced the recipients of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Relief Fund for Organizations grants. The Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, Billings, MT was selected as a recipient and awarded the maximum amount of $20,000. Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, this competitive grant program was established to provide general operating support to arts and cultural organizations in the West that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The application for the funds opened on May 6 and closed on May 11 due to high demand.
Eligible organizations included 501(c)(3) nonprofits, units of state or local government, nonprofit institutions of higher education, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments. Applications were reviewed by four separate panels of sixteen volunteers from the WESTAF region on June 15-17 and assessed on inclusivity, demonstrated need, artistic and cultural merit, and public and community benefit. Awards are being made to organizations across the West, with a minimum of one grant awarded to each state in the region, which includes the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Additionally, The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (BSOC) was among 855 organizations that will benefit from the National Endowment for the Arts’ recommendation of direct funding through the (CARES) Act. The BSOC was granted $50,000 as one of 63 orchestras nationally.
A total of $44.5 million in nonmatching funds will go to organizations of all sizes, nationwide, to support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities costs.
Beneficiaries were announced on Wednesday, July 1. Applications for these recommended grants were submitted in spring 2020 and approved at the end of June.