County Council files $11.8M in grants toward tourism and arts organizations
January 3, 2021
The Montgomery County Council approved $11.8 million in grants toward tourism and arts institutions. The decision to approve funding was unanimous, due to the urgency for pandemic relief funds across the county. All funds are derived from federal and county funding reserves.
The Arts and Humanities COVID-19 Relief Fund applies to qualified organizations, artists, and academics. A set of guidelines apply for tourism and arts institutions to receive the grants. Guidelines include having seen reduced profit due to the pandemic, being a non-profit, and having limited functionality as an organization due to the pandemic, under executive orders of the state and county.
Small-scale organizations and artists have not had the same capacity to gain monetary aid as larger organizations with event spaces, which some argue has resulted in inequity. “This creates a COVID relief funding gap as small organizations and independent artists are falling through the cracks,” Ali Oliver-Krueger of InterAct Story Theatre Education Association in Wheaton said, according to Bethesda Magazine.
At the school level, funds and support for arts programs impact the access to resources during the pandemic. “I was grateful [principal] Damon Monteleone’s strong support for our RMHS art program provided the financial means for all students to receive the over 1000 supplies art kits the art department put together prior to the materials distribution,” art teacher Katherine Stanton said via email. “This is not the case at all schools on varying levels.”
Funds will additionally be provided for child care and accessibility to technology for educational purposes, which students, families, and school staff members have been vocal about. Under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, $4.5 million from federal aid will be provided to Montgomery College for remote teaching for faculty, online resources, and student-focused guidance and assessments, including appliances for students with disabilities.
Additionally, $1.8 million will be committed to support broadening child care surrounding the school day to children from low-income families as part of the Children’s Opportunity Fund of the Greater Washington Community. Along with the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equality, the fund is enacting the Educational Equity and Enrichment (EEE) Hubs. The hubs are dedicated to supporting students who have been particularly affected by the pandemic in terms of education.
Programs to support student learning during the pandemic impact all learning institutions. “Many students are not provided supplies and are forced to use whatever resources they have, providing a much larger gap of inequities of results,” Stanton said.
“I definitely think this recent move by the council to provide funding for technology is the correct and logical approach to countering the challenges provided by the new virtual learning environment,” junior Anthony Boboc, RM Chapter Co-President of the Lifting Lives non-profit, said via email. Lifting Lives aims to support educational equality through a variety of mediums.
“I’m of the opinion that it’s an excellent step in the right direction in overcoming the obstacles in our education system,” Boboc said. “Especially for vulnerable students, this pandemic has had a devastating impact on their ability to get the quality education they deserve.” Boboc believes that the increased funding can hopefully work towards educational equity.
Out of the $5.05 million dedicated towards the Tourism Stabilization Grant Program, $50,000 will be for establishing a program for proper maintenance of hygienic facilities and disease prevention. “Funds for infectious diseases are extremely crucial, especially right now with COVID,” sophomore Lilian Wang said via Instagram DM. “I heard that MCPS is planning to allow students to return to school next year, which means that funding towards sanitation, (like hand sanitizer,) and preventative measures, (like masks,) are necessary investments.”