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

Latest Updates

  • On May 28, Governor Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group issued new guidelines for noncontact sports, camps, and higher education under the Tennessee Pledge. Since the state began its measured reopening in late April, nearly every industry is now able to resume business in some capacity with specific recommendations to preserve and protect the health and safety of all Tennesseans.

    “We’re able to continue reopening our state thanks to the sustained efforts by Tennesseans to social distance and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Lee.  “It’s important we continue to take personal responsibility for our health and the health of our neighbors, while recognizing and honoring the need for Tennesseans to get back to work and support their families.”

    Under Executive Order No. 38 issued May 22, noncontact sports may resume under certain precautions, including efforts to maintain social distancing, wear masks when feasible and added sanitization measures. Sports that may return under the current guidelines include but are not limited to baseball, softball, volleyball, golf, disc golf, tennis and racket sports, cycling, track and field and other running events, and equestrian. Contact sports such as football, wrestling, and hockey are not permitted except for practicing in a manner that does not involve close physical contact with other persons.

    Previously released summer camp guidance has been expanded to address the safe reopening of overnight camps. The Economic Recovery Group recommends additional protective measures for residential camps, including thorough pre-screening measures, limited mixing of campers and staff and modified sleeping arrangements, among a number of additional efforts to protect campers and staff.

    Newly released Higher Ed guidelines recommend a number of safety precautions to protect staff and students. Recommendations to Tennessee colleges and universities include establishing policies for on-campus housing, how to isolate and care for sick students and staff, limiting number of attendees for in-person classes, and other measures. This guidance was created by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in partnership with state colleges and universities and related associations and the Unified Command.

    Full guidelines can be found on for:

    Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with State and local health departments.

  • Friday, May 29 at 3:00 PM ET. Join Americans for the Arts for a webinar on the US Treasury guidelines and application form for loan forgiveness for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This webinar will feature speakers giving updates on PPP in Congress, advice on applying for loan forgiveness, and a Q&A to answer questions about challenges arts and culture organizations may face with the guidelines. Register here:…/ppp-loan-forgiveness
  • The U.S. Treasury Department released long-awaited guidance and the official application for PPP loan forgiveness on May 15, 2020. There is over $100 billion still available in the Paycheck Protection Program. Apply as soon as possible before the funds are exhausted. To learn if you’re eligible, please go to
  • 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
  • SBA Tennessee District Office will hold webinars to address SBA loan related inquiries for businesses impacted by COVID-19, as well as those impacted by the tornadoes in March. The calls are from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. CDT on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Register here:…/regi…/tJ0rc-yqrD8sG9B1HhZhWc4GWDYyHfxlsOjA
  • 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

    • 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

  • 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