CARES Grants have been awarded. View grantees and award amounts in this technical brief.

Please read the County Executive's press release here.

Applications have closed.


This $700,000 grant program, funded through Milwaukee County’s CARES Act allocation, aims to assist our county's arts and culture organizations impacted by COVID-19.

The objective of the Grant Program is to provide grants to aid impacted non-profit arts and culture organizations that would otherwise be forced to make undesirable decisions for financial reasons. 

Eligible arts and cultural organizations may receive a maximum grant of up to $125,000.  Total relief received from all COVID-19 CARES Act programs cannot exceed total losses due to COVID-19.

Following the County Executive's goals to address racial and health equity in Milwaukee County, groups that are led by, or predominantly serve, minority communities will have funding priority.

Final allocations will depend on available funding and demand for the Grant Program.

All funds will be distributed no later than December 29, 2020.


The Grant Program is available to non-profit, non-governmental organizations with 501c3 exempt status located within Milwaukee County that meet the following criteria:

  • Operate for the benefit of the public
  • Be an eligible organization whose primary mission is production, presentation, or exhibition of cultural disciplines such as music, dance, theater, literature and the visual arts, including organizations that provide arts-centered education and community development
  • Be in operation at least since March 1, 2019

Ineligible Groups:

  • For profit entities
  • Lobbying organizations
  • Political organizations subject to IRC 527 including but not limited to political parties, campaign committees for federal state or local office, PAC’s
  • Cultural organizations that do not operate in Milwaukee County
  • Cultural organizations within, operating under or for the benefit of:
  • Public accredited institutions of higher learning
  • State and local government agencies, including schools operating as public, private, and charter organizations
  • Federally recognized Native American Tribal Governments
  • Churches & religious organizations
  • Any other organization not specifically eligible as deemed by Milwaukee County

Woman-led, minority-led, and veteran-led arts and cultural organizations are strongly encouraged to apply.


Application opens December 4, 2020 and will close on December 11, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

Organizations must upload the organization’s last annual financial statement or 990 and a W9.

Award amounts will be determined by the County’s racial equity framework, populations served, and grant funding availability. Award determinations are final.

Grant awardees will be notified via email as early as December 14, 2020. Affirmation by awardees with payment instructions must be received by December 18, 2020.

The grant administrator will make two good faith attempts to contact Grantees for affirmation. If no affirmation is made by December 18, 2020, allocated grant funds will return to the administering organization to return to Milwaukee County by 12/29/20. 

Grants will be paid before 12/29/20.

Grantees will receive an IRS Form 1099 by February 2021.


Funds may be used prospectively or for reimbursement of prior expenses that are not fully covered by any other Federal, State or Local grant funds. 

All use of funds shall be compliant with applicable provisions of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Program provisions, including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • are necessary expenditures incurred or revenues lost due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19),
  • are expenses incurred or revenues lost by the applicant organization between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020,
  • are expenses incurred or revenues lost in Wisconsin or in direct support of the cultural organization’s mission in Wisconsin,
  • were not reimbursed and are not under consideration for reimbursement of another program.

Examples of eligible uses of funds (not exhaustive):

  • Emergency operation activities and services related to public health, emergency services, and public safety response
  • Lost revenues that are attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, as evidenced by:
  • Financial commitments (pledges, advertising, projected/expected grant revenue, season ticket sales, etc.) made to the organization that were rescinded or reduced by a donor/advertiser/patron/other due to COVID-19, or
  • The difference between organization revenues during the 2020 period for which payment is requested and revenues during the same period in 2019.
  • Employee costs such as salary and fringe that are not reimbursed from another source such as unemployment insurance or PPP. If claimed as an expense, the same employee costs may not also be reimbursed using funds received from a lost revenue claim to this Program.
  • Paid leave for public health and safety employees to take COVID-19 precautions
  • Increased workers compensation costs due to COVID-19
  • Medical and protective services and equipment, including PPE
  • Testing and contact tracing costs above those covered by existing State programs
  • Temporary isolation housing for infected or at-risk individuals
  • Cleaning, sanitizing, and other costs of COVID-19 mitigation in public areas and facilities
  • Purchases of services or equipment to facilitate telework by employees

Ineligible Uses

  • Funds may be not requested for expenses specifically reimbursed from any other program.
  • Additional ineligible uses include, but are not limited to, fees incurred submitting an application, taxes (except sales taxes on eligible expenses), and other uses ineligible under the CARES Act.


All arts and culture organizations receiving Grants will be required to complete a follow-up survey at a later date after the Grant is awarded. 

Recipients shall maintain sufficiently detailed records on reopening dates, documentation of qualifying expenses, and staff and payroll records associated with the Grant.

Organizations may be required to identify any duplication of benefits or awards if they have applied for and/or received any assistance from the COVID-19 funded assistance programs being offered by the federal government. 

The information will provide the County with vital information for processing the application required by the Stafford Act Section 312 on Duplication of Benefits.