The City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture quickly took advantage of the $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds it received in June, announcing grants to 88 nonprofit arts and culture organizations still hurting financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The office allocated $2.65 million in ARPA funds to the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Stabilization Grants program, which provided one-time emergency recovery funds to Phoenix organizations.
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture granted $7,500 in emergency relief funds to Wasted Ink Zine Distro, a zine library and storefront located in Phoenix.
Owner Charissa Lucille struggled without a storefront after she closed Wasted Ink’s doors in March 2020 because of COVID-19 and relied on online sales for the rest of the year.
Wasted Ink doesn’t always qualify for grants because it is a limited liability company, so Lucille jumped at the opportunity to apply for the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Stabilization Grants program, which was open to a variety of new organizations this year.
“It really makes a difference to receive this, and we’re lucky to have had an opportunity to qualify and apply for it,” Lucille said.
After moving locations in January 2021, Lucille plans on using the funds to finish its building, work on outdoor landscaping and replace materials that were broken or damaged during the move.
“Some of the funds will go towards the Phoenix Zine Fest and help pay our panelists that will be speaking,” Lucille said. “They will also pay for program support for our arts programming for the rest of 2021 and part of 2022.”
Because many small nonprofit businesses aren’t registered as nonprofits, Lucille appreciates that there’s an opportunity in Phoenix for these businesses to grow and continue serving the community.
“I think that society often sees themselves in art,” Lucille said. “To have yourself reflected in art is very powerful, and the more that we can represent groups that have been historically silenced, the better.”
Lucille said she believes this is the overall goal of Wasted Ink and she sees that same mission in other Phoenix businesses and organizations.
All of the grant money was split up proportionally based on each organization’s budget size.
The bigger organizations with annual budgets of up to $30 million received up to $75,000. Smaller organizations received a significant portion of their entire annual budget, according to Sarah León Moreno, Grants and Community Engagement Director.
“We wanted to make sure those really small ones were able to stay in business,” Moreno said. “If you’re a small organization, this grant could be the thing that really propels you to the next stage.”
Annually, the Office of Arts and Culture grants about $1 million through its regular grants program, according to Executive Director Mitch Menchaca, so the $5 million has already made a deep impact this year.
“This is allowing us to see what it takes to have large amounts of money and how to program it,” Menchaca said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing it right.”
Menchaca said the office will go back and ask for more grant money next year, whether it’s from ARPA or the general fund.
“We can always use more because there’s always more need out there,” Menchaca said.
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture announced the Arts Career Advancement Grants, another ARPA grant program, which will financially aid artists and arts workers who struggled economically due to COVID-19.
The application can be found at Phoenix.gov/arts/grants, and the deadline to apply is Wednesday, October 6.