COVID-19: Info & Resources for Tennessee’s Artists and Arts Sector

Latest Updates

  • October 7 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group (FSAG) today announced an initial $50 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for the new Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant (SERG) program to provide additional relief to small businesses suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new wave of funding includes specific support for minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses, as well as businesses owned by disabled persons.

Small business owners and non-profit organizations can apply to receive reimbursement for eligible direct expenses or costs incurred as a result of business interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program’s application window will open October 7, 2020 and remain open until December 29, 2020, or until all funds are depleted. Please note:

    • Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis;
    • Awards are capped at $30,000. Businesses located in low to moderate income (“LMI”) census tracts, Opportunity zones, or Promise zones will receive an additional $500 added to the maximum allowable expenses;
    • 10% of all funds distributed under this program will be reserved for eligible diversity business enterprises, classified as minority business enterprises, women business enterprises, or service-disabled veteran business enterprises, and enterprises owned by disabled persons.

The period for reimbursable expenses is May 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020. Eligible expenses and business interruption costs include but are not limited to:

    • Costs to create social distancing measures
    • Purchasing personal protective equipment for employees or customers
    • Contactless equipment
    • Payroll expenses
    • Mortgage interest

The SERG program follows the previously allocated $300 million for more than 40,000 qualifying businesses under the Tennessee Business Relief Program.

To apply and learn more about what is eligible for reimbursement, please visit For application assistance, please call 1-833-740-1438 or email

  • October 2 – In accordance with the current scientific understanding of COVID-19, Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidance today for businesses and other activities under the Tennessee Pledge. The updates follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and maintain emphasis on key preventative measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and frequent disinfection. The update follows executive orders signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee earlier this week. The updated and streamlined guidance aligns with recent amendments to state-issued Executive Orders and enable Tennessee businesses to operate with more flexibility where social distancing protocols remain in place. Full guidelines can be found at, and include such updates as:
    • Rather than recommending strict capacity limitations for attractions and entertainment, guidelines focus on case-by-case flexibility and provide examples for incorporating social distancing.
    • Focusing on preventing COVID-19 transmission from close physical contact rather than surface transmission, though regular disinfection and hand hygiene remain important. For example, retail establishments may resume use of reusable bags.
    • Hotels may resume valet and reopen unstaffed gyms.
    • Removing the recommendation to close playgrounds, provided that social distancing is followed to the extent possible.
  • September 25 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee today announced a 5-day extension for eligible small businesses to certify for the Tennessee Business Relief Program (TBRP). According to the Department of Revenue, an estimated 15,000 businesses may still be eligible for approximately $120 million in TBRP funds. Businesses can check their eligibility at Eligible businesses can certify here. Gov. Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced the initial $200 million in Tennessee Business Relief Program funds on June 2nd and an additional $83.5 million on August 14th. For questions please call the TN Dept of Revenue at (615) 253-0600 or email More details can be found at
  • August 31 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Department of Revenue announced today a new digital eligibility tool for small business owners to determine if their business may be eligible for a Tennessee Business Relief Program payment. More than 40,000 small business owners across 60 different industries qualify for the Tennessee Business Relief Program. Eligible businesses have until September 25, 2020 to confirm their information with the Department of Revenue in order to receive a relief payment between $2,500 and $30,000 in no-cost funds from the state. The eligibility tool can be found at
  • August 14 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced today new and expanded financial relief programs for small businesses, agribusinesses, displaced workers, and the tourism industry through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The Tennessee Small Business Relief Program will expand to include additional industries adversely impacted by reductions in commercial activity in April, with $83.5 million added to the program’s initial $200 million allotment.

    Expansion of Tennessee Small Business Relief Program – $83,517,500
    The Tennessee Small Business Relief Program will expand to include additional businesses provided they have less than $10 million in annual gross sales and fall within an industry impacted by executive order limitations on activities, gatherings, and other non-essential businesses and activities; or a retail industry that experienced a 25% reduction in taxable sales in the month of April due to the public health emergency.

    In addition to the original list of eligible businesses, below are the categories of small businesses that will be eligible under this expansion:

    • Caterers, Mobile Food Services, and Food Service Contractors
    • Wedding and Event Planners
    • Convention and Trade Show Organizers
    • Wedding and Banquet Hall and Similar Property Rental
    • Linen Supply Services
    • Photography Studios
    • Travel Agencies and Travel Arrangement Services
    • Car, Truck, Trailer, and RV Rental
    • Sightseeing and Tour Operators
    • Taxi, Limousine, Bus, and Other Transportation Services
    • Recreational Vehicle and Vacation Camps
    • Sports and Recreation Instruction
    • Fine Arts Instruction, Exam Prep, Driving Schools, and Other Similar Instruction
    • Motion Picture and Video Production and Distribution Services
    • Music Production, Distribution, and Publishing Services
    • Sound Recording Studios
  • June 29 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee today signed Executive Order No. 50 to extend the State of Emergency related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to August 29, 2020. The order allows the continued suspension of various laws and regulations and other measures in these orders to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings, and protecting vulnerable populations.Gov. Lee also signed Executive Order Nos. 51 and 52, which extend provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards and remote notarization and witnessing of documents, respectively, to August 29, 2020.
  • On June 2, 2020, Governor Bill Lee announced the use of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to assist Tennessee small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  Governor Lee has directed the Tennessee Department of Revenue to issue business relief payments through the Tennessee Business Relief Program to small businesses for costs incurred as a result of mandatory business closures. Independent artists, writers, and performers are eligible for the program. Revenue has also updated their website with a few more frequently asked questions. Revenue is proactively identifying eligible small businesses for these payments (not loans!), so there is no application process; this is to ensure businesses get payments quickly and efficiently. The Tennessee Business Relief Program was designed to reimburse small businesses for costs incurred as a result of mandatory closures. The program focuses on businesses that collect sales tax or pay business tax and were required to suspend or significantly modify their operations under the Tennessee Executive Order. There are more specifics on the web. Tennessee businesses that were closed via Executive Order are encouraged to update their mailing addresses by logging into TNTAP at
  • The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has posted new information for unemployment, returning to work and opening of businesses.
  • Americans for the Arts has launched a fourth data collection vehicle: The CARES Act Arts Funding Tracker to know who in the arts has gone after the federal relief funds (PPP, disaster relief, NEA, etc.) and their success as well as harvest stories about how the arts are being used in local pandemic response or recovery efforts.
  • Resources as you seek additional information on relief and recovery:
  • Details on the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s rollout of guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • NEA Announces CARES Act Funding to Support Arts Jobs and Help Sustain Arts Organizations
  • New National Artist/Creative Worker Relief Fund and Survey
  • The latest information regarding the CARES Act
  • National Endowment for the Arts  COVID-19 Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations
  • Americans for the Arts’ Covid-19 Response
  • This helpful table breaks down the CARES Act so you can determine which funding opportunities apply to you, whether you represent a nonprofit organization, a governmental agency, a commercial arts company, a self-employed gig worker, or just a taxpayer. The table is regularly updated and links to helpful FAQs are listed on the last page.

Financial Assistance

    • An annuities guide with information on how to generate long-term income, which can greatly benefit those out of work or on a reduced income at the moment:,
    • Rauschenberg Medical Grants Available to Visual, Media Artists and Choreographers. Read details here.
    • On June 5, 2020, the President signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act to provide borrowers greater flexibility in getting their loans forgiven. On June 8th, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza released a joint statement outlining the changes.
      • Please note that while the “covered period” of the loan was extended from 8 weeks to 24 weeks, the deadline for applying for a PPP loan application remains June 30, 2020.  If you’re still interested in applying for a forgivable PPP federal loan, please do not delay. There is still more than $130 billion in available funds and you must apply by the end of this month.
    • On June 8, 2020, the Federal Reserve announced the expansion of the Mainstreet Lending Program to small and medium-size businesses. While these types of loans are not the forgivable type and were previously only available to major corporations, the terms may be attractive and provide much more flexibility for use of funds. $75 billion is being made available for these loans through the CARES Act. Please note that the Federal Reserve Board also confirmed that they will soon be announcing an additional loan program specifically for nonprofit organizations.
    • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced that it will dedicate an additional $200 million in grantmaking – on top of its $300 million originally planned for 2020 – for emergency support to non-profits in higher education, the arts, and humanities, to help shore up struggling institutions during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
    • CARES-eligible applicants that successfully submitted Part One will find step-by-step directions for completing the required Part 2 by the May 4th deadline in the online application instructions. Please see the Arts Endowment’s website for complete program descriptioneligibility requirementsapplication review, staff contact, and FAQs.
    • United States Artists created an emergency initiative launching to support artists facing dire financial emergencies due to this global health crisis. Artist Relief is an emergency, non-restricted fund that will grant $5,000 to individual artists facing financial hardship; serve as an informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Research Partner Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists moving forward. To apply for relief, follow the link:
    • Financial Aid Available for Certain Families That Lost Employment Due to COVID-19. Learn more.
    • The State of Tennessee will provide regular updates including the necessary resources, information and support to help our small businesses overcome the challenges that have resulted from COVID-19.
      Visit TN Economic and Commerce website to learn more.
    • Need to file for unemployment? Click here for information.
    • List of resources for those who have lost work, from NPR
    • United Way is committed to standing with communities and supporting those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit their website to find your local United Way
    • Actos de Confianza: NALAC Micro-Grant – the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) recognizes the compounding impact that the COVID-19 public health pandemic is having on our communities and artistic field. NALAC has created the Actos de Confianza micro-grant initiative, $500 micro-grants to support artists and arts administrators whose work has been adversely impacted by COVID-19.
    • Association of Performing Arts Professionals has gathered links to the new federal relief funds, and grants through the National Endowment for the Arts.
    • Nonprofit Crisis Management Checklist, from The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
    • The Performing Arts Readiness Project offers significant resources for performing arts (and multidisciplinary) organizations. Grants of up to $7250 for 42 performing arts organizations for the creation of individual institutional emergency preparedness or Continuity of Operations (CoOP) plans.Grants of $5,000 – $25,000 each will be awarded for 10 projects to support both the development of new or emerging disaster preparedness networks that include performing arts and culture organizations, and the expansion of existing networks to increase participation among performing arts organizations. Five Emergency Preparedness Consultant/Circuit Riders to work directly with performing arts organizations on a local level, providing expertise, training, consulting and mentoring to staffs and Boards regarding effective emergency preparedness. Art of Mass Gatherings symposia that focuses on emergency preparedness for festivals and other outdoor events that feature performing arts.Artists and Creative Workers: Please take 15 minutes to take this survey on the impact of COVID-19 from Americans for the Arts.
    • Council on Foundations. Are you an organization looking for foundation funding related to COVID-19? This might be the place for you.

Small Business Support


Past webinars are recorded and available to view

Public Health

Additional Resources

Emergency Funding

Teaching & Learning Resources

Health and Mental Health Resources

Temporary/Remote Job Opportunities

Resources to Help Ensure Accessibility of Your Virtual Events for People with Disabilities from the NEA

  • The National DEI Consultant Sourcebook is an informal list of DEI consultants, facilitators and trainers
  • Resource guide: Resources to Help Ensure Accessibility of Your Virtual Events for People with Disabilities
  • Blog: Are You Including People with Disabilities in Your Virtual Arts Events?
  • Below are some ways to create an inclusive experience for your virtual and digital events. Please let us know of other recommendations or needs from the field to better serve people with disabilities by emailing The National Endowment for the Arts does not endorse any vendors, but during this national emergency, the Office of Accessibility believes it is important to provide these resources to the arts community, including some examples of vendor options. You can find other vendors via internet search and recommendations from colleagues or from state or local disability agencies or organizations. Also, please note that this is a high-level overview and not a detailed how-to guide.
    • Communication tip: Be sure to include contact information on your website or event registration for requesting an access accommodation.
    • Real-time captioning options:
    • Vendor examples – National Captioning Institute, CaptionAccess, and Streamtext.
    • Post-production and DIY captioning options:
    • Upload video to YouTube and use the platform to add captions. Be sure to edit them because auto-generated captions are not always accurate.
    • Vendor examples –, Alternative Communications Services, and ASLCaptions. Other vendors are available via internet search.
    • For more information see How to Caption Your Videos – by Tina Childress, See Hear Communication Matters Blog.
    • Examples of platforms with accessibility features (please note that automated captions do not replace a live person captioning):
    • Zoom – Accessibility and Zoom – Getting Started with Closed Captioning (3rd party vendor required)
    • Google Hangouts Meet Accessibility (automated captions)
    • BlueJeans (automated)
    • Jitsi Meet (automated)
    • Will you provide sign language interpretation in American Sign Language? (ASL) Many platforms allow sign language interpretation alongside the performance or discussion.
    • ASL interpreters can be found via the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, or search for ASL interpreting companies that offer video relay or video remote interpreting services.
    • Consider adding visual description of your performance videos for people with vision disabilities. The American Council of the Blind has information on audio description, and a list of audio description vendors.
    • Virtual exhibitions and collections
    • Will all images include alternative text for people who are blind or have low vision and use screen-reading software? Alternative text (also called “alt attribute”, “alt text”, or “alt-tag”) is a visual description of an image that can be added using image formatting tools to describe the image for screen-reader users. Social media platforms also allow users to add alt text to their images before they are posted.
    • Ensure videos are captioned and consider adding visual description (see above).
    • For more information see Captioning Options for Videoconferencing and Learning Management Systems – by Tina Childress, See Hear Communication Matters Blog
    • Online Learning Events
    • #DeafEdTips: E-Learning Accessibility – blog by the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education