The City of Austin provides cultural arts programs for the Austin community by contracting with arts organizations for specific services. These contracts are referred to as Cultural Services Agreements, or Cultural Contracts.

As the implications of COVID-19 unfold, we know that the shocks of this "new normal" are severe and unanticipated for you as indeed they are for us all, professionally and personally. On April 7th,2020 during the City Council Work Session, economist Jon Hockenyos from TXP presented an update on the FY20 and FY21 financial projections. To access archived recordings of the sessions please visit:  

While the City’s emergency reserves are strong and the economic recovery response is developing as quickly as possible, there is an undeniable financial impact for the City budget and all Austinites at this time. As information on City-wide economic relief efforts become available, you can find these resources posted at We also strongly encourage you to consider your eligibility for federal resources provided through the CARES Act. For more information on these programs visit:

In response to this unprecedented situation, we want to share some important updates with you regarding your Cultural Funding. Below you will find:

• Information on the FY21 application

• Helpful amendments to your FY20 contract

• Update on FY20 Community Initiatives April 27th application


FY21 Application Deadline

We know that the FY21 application process is top of mind for all of you. With all of the uncertainty facing us, it is difficult to conceive of “business as usual.” In response to the budget projections presented to City Council, it is clear that we need to adjust our own processes to better respond to the likely impact for our cultural contractors. With this in mind we are moving the FY21 application deadline.

New Core and Cultural Heritage Festivals Program Application Deadline: Monday, June 8 at 11:59pm. 

We are currently planning to administer the FY21 Bridge Year as approved by the Arts Commission, but the major events of recent weeks have significantly impacted our ability to plan for next fiscal year. Once more information about FY21 funding projections is available, we will share with all of you those updates. 


FY20 Contract Changes

In the meantime, we want to provide you with maximum flexibility in how you use your FY20 awarded funds in this time of unprecedented challenge.  

Repurposing FY20 funds

We will work with you to repurpose remaining FY20 contract funds for other activities if you have had to cancel or postpone an event or program due to COVID-19 and do everything we can to ensure that contracted funds can be paid out to you.  If you need to repurpose contract funds for other activities, you might consider increasing fees for work done by artists, team members, vendors, or yourself for the planning phase of your project. In all cases, make sure you are paying a fair rate that is market relative. Some examples of billable expenses could include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Time spent and fees related to scheduling a venue or space, booking talent, and working with vendors in advance of an event. This includes deposits paid for space, equipment, or vendors.

• Stipends or fees to volunteers or artists who worked with you to plan the event and/or develop creative content meant for use during that event, or to travel to Austin for the event.

• Fees for work done in planning, hosting, and/or marketing a digital version of your event.

• Contractual agreements to subcontractors for services to be rendered at the (canceled) event(s).

FY20 Contract Amendments

We are also extending the following contract amendments in response to the COVID-19 crisis. (Please Note: A copy of the contract amendment document is available in Section V Attachments of your ZoomGrants FY20 account. You MUST communicate with your contract administrator to implement and sign this document.) 

Contract extension: Effective immediately, all contracts have the option to extend no later than December 31, 2020. If you are fiscally sponsored, extensions must be approved by the Fiscal Sponsor first. Fiscal Sponsor organizations that support contract extensions for sponsored projects will be able to enter into FY21 contracts without an additional delay of their first payment.

Moving events online: In response to stay-at-home restrictions, Cultural Contractors (including Community Initiatives Contractors) can now adapt events and programming into online or live stream formats. Details on how to implement this amendment are in the Contract Amendments document in your ZoomGrants Library. As a note, we have updated our VisitAustin “How to post” Guide to include instructions for effectively posting online/live stream programming.

Matching requirements: Effective immediately, match requirements are waived for all contracts.

Insurance requirements: Until stay-at-home restrictions are lifted (partially or in full), insurance requirements for in-person events have been waived. Once public gathering limitations are lifted, this requirement will be re-evaluated and/or reinstated and will be the responsibility of the contractor to obtain all required insurance. Please read the Contract Amendments document in your ZoomGrants Library for details.

To accept one or more of these amendments it is required that you complete the FY 20 Contract Amendment Request Form (LINK: ), then digitally sign the Contract Amendments document that will be emailed to you once the form is complete. Both the Sponsored Project and the Fiscal Sponsor must sign the form. The signed form will need to be uploaded to the Contract Tab in your ZoomGrants account before these amendments are effective for your contract.  

If your contract was not impacted by COVID-19 and you do not need these amendments, you are not required to complete the contract amendment form.  


FY20 Community Initiatives April 27th Application

At this time, we are canceling the final quarter of the FY20 Community Initiatives program. We will not be processing any additional Community Initiatives applications. Once we have more information regarding FY21 budget projections and future impact to the Community Initiatives program, we will share those updates with you.  

We are very aware of the challenges to finances, mission delivery, morale, organizational culture, and productivity that many organizations and artists are facing, and we are committed to being good partners and a source of meaningful support for you. Thank you for all you are doing in this challenging time to keep culture and arts alive in Austin. It matters now more than ever, and we are so grateful to each of you. If you have any specific questions, please reach out to your respective Contract Administrators or me directly.  We are here to help.

With gratitude, 

Meghan Wells

Division Manager, Cultural Arts Division, City of Austin