In April of 2020, in response to the economic devastation of COVID-19 on the arts sector, the Mississippi Arts Commission established a series of emergency grants programs.

Since it’s origination, MAC has offered several grant opportunities aimed at providing economic relief for the arts during the pandemic.

These grants include the MAC CARES grant, the South Arts Organizational Impact Grant, and Rapid Response Minigrants.

See below for a breakdown of MAC’s COVID-19-related grant funding awarded in 2020.


Established in April 2020, the MAC CARES special funding opportunity provides one-time grants to non-profit arts organizations in Mississippi to provide immediate financial support to these organizations due to the income shortfalls created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding for this program comes from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through the 2020 Federal CARES Act.

MAC has received $441,100 from the NEA to distribute in Mississippi. While the NEA is allowing state arts agencies to keep a portion of the funds to administer the grants (MAC is eligible to keep up to $50,000), MAC has committed to granting the entire award to arts organizations across Mississippi.

Though this grant opportunity is now closed, MAC plans to provide further support as additional funding becomes available.

Program Objective

Unlike other special grant programs that support new or experimental projects, the CARES grant program focused solely on helping arts organizations to maintain their operations. NEA Chairman Mary Anne Carter implored MAC and the other state arts agencies to re-grant these funds as quickly as possible to help save jobs and assist arts organizations with ongoing facility expenses.


Applicants must be a non-profit 501c3 arts organization based in Mississippi that was awarded a MAC Operating Grant in either Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019) or 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). Though this opportunity is now closed, MAC will directly contact eligible organizations should similar opportunities become available in the future.

Grant Amounts

MAC awarded grantees between $1,500 and $11,100. The grant does not require matching funds. The awards were based on the grantee’s current or most recent grant award, review panel score and organizational capacity. MAC made modifications to the award amount based on changes to the organization’s status since their most recent grant award was made.

Eligible Expenses

The grant funds were intended to help stabilize an organization during a strained economic situation. The funds could have been used to pay for:

  • Staff Salaries – support salaries and fringe benefits for permanent, full-time or part-time staff working for an organization.
  • Facility Costs – Supporting rent, utilities and other required ongoing expenses related to the facilities used by the organization. The funds cannot be used to pay for building projects, making updates to facilities or purchasing equipment.

Application and Review Process

Eligible applicants completed the CARES grant application in MAC’s online grant system beginning April 28, 2020. MAC staff reviewed the applications internally to ensure the applicant and proposed expenses were eligible for funding. The grant awards were based on the criteria outlined in the “Grant Amounts” section above.

Awards were made on a rolling basis beginning April 28, 2020.

South Arts Organizational Impact Grants

Established in July 2020, the South Arts Organizational Impact Grant program was part of MAC’s effort to provide relief to Mississippi’s arts sector due to the impacts of COVID-19. These “invite-only” grants were made possible through special funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts through South Arts. The grant was designed to assist eligible small to mid-sized non-profit arts organizations with economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MAC received a total of $60,000 from its regional partner South Arts to establish the grant program. As an invite-only grant, eligible arts organization were contacted directly by MAC through its eGrant system.

Rapid Response Grants

In an effort to respond to the changing needs of artists and arts organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mississippi Arts Commission established Rapid Response Grants. An expanded version of the agency’s Minigrants, Rapid Response Grant applications open Nov. 16 and close at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 4.

Eligible individual artists may apply for up to $500 to adapt their artistic work to online platforms such as digital portfolios, gallery tours or hosting virtual demonstrations or to purchase art supplies, create promotional materials or pursue professional development.

Eligible organizations may apply for up to $1,000 to adapt their arts-related work to online platforms such as online workshops, children’s art activities or virtual gatherings. Funds may also be used to hire MAC roster artists or to pursue organizational professional development such as hiring a consultant or attending training for emergency response and future preparedness, strategic planning or other adaptive organizational pursuits.