COVID-19 Message and FY2020 Grantee FAQs

COVID-19 Field Message from NYSCA’s Executive Director and Chair

Dear New York cultural workers, artists, and creatives,

As we together face the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, the New York State Council on the Arts has been developing ways to help you navigate the effects of this rapidly evolving public health crisis. We understand the profound impact that this unprecedented situation is having on our artistic community and creative economy.

NYSCA is responding by taking action. We are working with our grantees to expedite support and provide flexibility in the following ways:

  1. Our grantees can learn how to request accommodations or extensions in the FAQs and Instructions Section below or download a PDF version here.
  2. Grantees receiving FY2020 Project Support are encouraged to reach out to NYSCA program staff on a case-by-case basis with your accommodation request to discuss how we can support your needs. 
  3. NYSCA FY2020 grantees will be able to extend grants beyond current deadlines to allow for the rescheduling of programs to a future date.
  4. NYSCA is streamlining reporting requirements so that our grantees can invest their time and energy into immediate operational needs and concerns.

NYSCA has also created a comprehensive, regularly-updated list of resources that our community can access here

We encourage everyone to follow the State’s health and safety guidelines at this time. The arts and our artistic community play a critical role in the health and wellness of our communities, and NYSCA is with you to channel our collective energy and resources to foster our recovery. 

With great appreciation and in solidarity,


NYSCA FAQs and Instructions for Grantees in response to COVID-19

1. We are facing cancellations of events and programs funded through FY2020 project grants – how will NYSCA help?

NYSCA is providing immediate support to grantees facing cancellations of their events or programs funded by FY2020 project grants through the following options: 

A. You can request approval for a “COVID-19 activities change request” in order to apply NYSCA funds to expenses of: 

  1. The originally funded events or programs which have been cancelled because of a COVID-19 Executive Order;    
  2. Rescheduled events or programs;      
  3. Substituted similar events or programs; and/or      
  4. Remote/online versions of the event or program (or the similar substitute event or program).

B. You can request an extension of time of up to one year to spend funds, complete activities and deliver a final report.

C. Your expenses can be substituted in the COVID-19 activities change request  -- as long as you stay within same cost categories anticipated in the grant. 

Here’s a simple example: 

A museum has a NYSCA FY2020 project grant for an exhibition but the museum is now closed to the public. The grant is $15,000, with $10,000 allocated to fund salary of a curator’s work on the show and $5,000 towards other expenses such as installation materials and shipping.  Here are some sample options:

  • NYSCA can fund expenses with respect to the cancelled exhibition under option (a).  For example, NYSCA could fund $10,000 of the salary of the curator organizing the show and $5,000 for other expenses, such as installation materials and shipping fees for returning the art for the cancelled show.
  • If the museum schedules the show later or decides to mount a similar substitute exhibition, NYSCA could fund expenses of such show under option (b) or (c).  For example, $10,000 allocated for the salary of the curator of the new show and $5,000 for other expenses such as installation materials and shipping.
  • If the museum can mount an online version of the original exhibition or a similar substitute show, NYSCA could fund expenses of the online version under option (d).  

Another simple example: Same museum as above but instead of materials and shipping, $5,000 is allocated to teaching artists contracted to lead school programs related to the show.  NYSCA could fund the teaching artists expenses for the cancelled work, for rescheduled work or remote work. 

2. How do we make a COVID-19 activities change request to use these flexible project grant options? 

Simply contact your program staff at any time by email to request such a change and your program staff will send you a confirmation email following review and acceptance.

A. Include your FY2020 contract number, program category and grant title in the email subject line.

B. Tell us how the delay or closure was caused by the COVID-19 Executive Order (or other NY government directive) and let us know which options from the above list you would like your grant funded expenses applied or if you would like an extension.  (If you have already given us recent general impact information in a COVID-19 field note, you can just reference it and do not need to repeat it.)

C. Note the cost categories that the NYSCA grant is designated to fund and the amounts for each, and give us a very brief description for each cost category to which the alternative expense use will be allocated.   Cost categories appear on Attachment B-1 on your Grants Gateway contract. But please note that if your grant is under $10K in total across all funding years, you will not have a Grants Gateway contract, so just describe your proposed alternative expense use in a few words.  Click here for instructions on how to find your contract and the cost categories in Attachment B-1 in Grants Gateway. For example if your grant has your funds allocated to the “Contractual” cost category to fund artistic fees,  you could request to use NYSCA funds instead for “Contractual” artistic fees related to: (1) the cancelled show, (2) a substitute similar show;  or (3) for work on any remote/online options.   Please note that it is less likely that you will be able to apply the entire grant to something like rent since that would falls under a different cost category (Space/Property and Utilities). 

NYSCA expects to be able to quickly respond to any project grant requests that meet the criteria above.  We reserve the right to refrain from accepting any request for compliance or other reasons, in our sole discretion. No Grants Gateway actions are generally required by NYSCA at this time for the above.

3. Are there any changes to multi-year awards or new awards for FY21?

NYSCA will be continuing to support our field in FY2021 as we navigate the challenges of the ongoing health crisis. The state is contending with a $13 billion loss, and without federal aid must reduce spending to balance the budget. A spending plan is expected to be released by the state over the summer, and we will provide further direction at that point.  At this time, NYSCA anticipates announcing FY 2021 multi-year and new awards in late 2020.

4. Do we need to keep updating our COVID-19 field notes?

No. The COVID-19 grantee notes page on the grantee portal on continues to be a resource for sharing your experiences confronting the COVID-19 crisis on an optional basis.  We welcome you to share any updates.  NYSCA staff has been inspired and humbled by your dedication and creativity and our review of these notes has helped us to design timely responses to support you. Thank you for sharing.

The types of organization and project information you can share on the COVID-19 field memo page continues to include the following: (a) any delays and/or cancellations of activities; (b) actual income loss; (c) expected income loss; (d) other challenges resulting from COVID·19.

You may list URL links if you have already shared such information online, (Please know that updates you have already shared with NYSCA staff will be compiled as well so there is no need to repeat on the COVID page.) Memos once submitted can't be reopened but you may submit a subsequent field memo at any time if you have further updates.  (2000 characters maximum)

To find the COVID-19 field memo page, click on the COVID link on the left hand of the grantee portal once you log in. 

5. Do we need to make a COVID-19 activities change request on a general operating support (GOS) grant?

No.  You do not need to submit a COVID-19 activities change request regarding a cancelled or substitute activity in your overall operational activities program funded by a NYSCA GOS grant. NYSCA GOS grantees already have the flexibility to use funds for awarded core operational costs.

6. Do we need to make a COVID-19 activities change request on a project that doesn’t have an event or program element?

No. Do not submit an activities change request if there is no event or program element in your specific grant project.  Examples include our facilities grants, our REDC workforce grants and many of our commissioned artistic grants.  You can request a time extension for up to a year as noted below.  You may also share any COVID-19 related updates on these grants on the NYSCA field memo page (if you have not already done so), e.g., how commissioned artists are faring in working remotely or how a facilities project is progressing.  If you have a question on whether your grant has an event or program element, or have any other requests, your program staff will be happy to help at any time by email. 

7. Can I make a COVID-19 project grant activity change request on an REDC FY2020 grant?

Please reach out to REDC program staff regarding any REDC grants in light of COVID-19. 

8. Will NYSCA be permitting time extensions generally for FY 2020 grants?

Yes.  All FY2020 grantees can obtain time extensions, if needed, as a result of the COVID-19 EO.   Extensions are generally less than six months, and requests of up to one year will be considered.  This extension enables an organization to expend funds and complete activities during the extended period and to submit a final report two months after the end of that extended period.  Simply email your program staff to request an extension.  Please include your contract number, program and category in the email subject line and explain the COVID-19 EO related reasons for the request.  Your program staff will send you a confirmation email back following review and acceptance. No Grants Gateway actions are generally required by NYSCA at this time for the above.

9. Is there a deadline for submitting a COVID-19 activity change request or a time extension request? 

We will process changes as they are received. We realize that you may need time to map out your strategy moving forward. If we do not hear from you, we will assume you will fulfill the use of your grant as originally proposed. That said, if you need to submit a change for your 2020 grant, we will need to hear from you before the end of the existing 12-month FY2020 grant period (e.g., for contracts staring January 2020, by December 31, 2020). 

10. Will NYSCA be offering any options on reporting requirements in 2020?

Interim Reports: Yes. NYSCA is able to offer options on FY2020 interim reports particularly on the financial sections. Please review the new guidelines we have provided for the interim reports due April 1. We expect to send additional guidelines for upcoming interim reports in advance of their due dates. The streamlining of these processes has enabled NYSCA to work to ensure that all of your interim payments are made as quickly as possible during this emergency. Given the ongoing emergency, NYSCA will accept interim reports due March 1, June 1 and July 1 that contain:

  • An estimate or projection of your budget through the end of the last available month.
  • Only project expenses to date showing use of the NYSCA grant in the expense lines or simply in the Budget Notes; no requirement to show any income figures or other project expenses that are not funded by the NYSCA grant.  
  • There is no minimum expenditure of the project or the NYSCA grant required.  
  • For 6-month reports, the narrative and audience/demographic sections are also optional.

Further if providing any interim project income and expense numbers is not practicable for you because of COVID-19, you may alternatively simply submit a short text update in the Budget Notes so stating. To submit your interim report(s), log into your organizational account by clicking here. Please direct any questions to NYSCA’s Help Desk at [email protected].

Final Reports: Yes. We are also providing flexibility on FY2020 final reports (due 60 days after the end of the grant period) by making the presentation of the full project budget optional and allowing grantees to report only on the use of the NYSCA funds along with a narrative presentation of delivered activities, as well as any data required by the NEA.  NYSCA will send out guidance for these reports several months before their due date.

11. Will NYSCA participate in the upcoming REDC Initiative round?

No. NYSCA will not offer a new REDC opportunity for this round.

12. Are there flexible options for staying Prequalified in Grants Gateway during the COVID-19 crisis? 

Yes. You may request more time to upload and submit your IRS 990, Char500 and Audit/Financial Statements into your Document Vault. To find out what documents can be submitted later and the extended deadline, please consult the table on Grants Gateway (see and scroll to COVID-19 update).  

To make your extension request, please take the following steps:

(1) Log onto Grants Gateway and click on Organizations and then Document Vault;

(2) For each of the sections labeled IRS 990, Char500 and Audit/Financial Statement, upload a simple document (both word or PDF are acceptable) that states that you are requesting an extension of the due date of financial documents in your Grants Gateway Document Vault due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not need to be signed but please include a name and title of the submitting person. (See e.g., sample letter here,; and  

(3) Enter your fiscal year beginning and end date on each page, save each page, and resubmit your Vault for Review.  

NYSCA Prequalification Specialists will review your request and either approve an extension or contact you with questions.  As always, our NYSCA Prequalification Specialists are available to support you with your Prequalification efforts.  Please contact our team at [email protected] with any questions (and just include Prequalification Question in your title).   


13. When will NYSCA announce recipients of FY2021 grants?

NYSCA anticipates announcing FY2021 grant recipients in late 2020.