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Balboa Art Conservation, San Luis Rey Mission Receive Grants From NEH

The Balboa Park Botanical Building and Lily Pond are shown in this photo, Nov. 24, 2016.
KPBS Staff
The Balboa Park Botanical Building and Lily Pond are shown in this photo, Nov. 24, 2016.

The Balboa Art Conservation Center in San Diego and the San Luis Rey Mission Indian Foundation in Vista are among 317 recipients of CARES Act economic stabilization grants to support cultural institutions nationwide that have taken a financial hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced Monday.

The Balboa Art Conservation Center received $52,417 to support the development of "innovative tools, practices and procedures at BACC, namely cross-training art conservators and implementing a virtual pre-examination program for art objects so that staff can pivot to provide programming and services during the COVID-19 health pandemic," according to the center.

The funds will allow the BACC to retain and cross-train six full-time and one consultant conservator involved in a program to allow virtual assessments for the center's network of small cultural heritage institutions located throughout the Western United States.

"BACC has a small, highly trained staff of conservators. With NEH CARES funds, our conservators will become more versatile in the work they can undertake," said conservation center board President Karen Coutts.

The San Luis Rey Mission Indian Foundation will use its $29,950 grant to retain one full-time and two part-time staff working on phase one of the San Luis Story Project, a tribal ethnographic history of the 'Ataaxum — the People — or Payomkawichum — People of the West — who are referred to as Luisenos Monday.

NEH CARES grants were awarded across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede.

"Over the past few months we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic," Peede said. "NEH is pleased to provide $40 million to preserve thousands of jobs at museums, archives, historic sites and colleges and universities that are vital to our nation's cultural life and economy."

More than 2,300 eligible applications were received from cultural organizations requesting more than $370 million in funding for projects between June and December. About 14% of the applicants were funded.

In March, the NEH received $75 million in supplemental grant funding through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The agency has already distributed $30 million of that funding to 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils to support local cultural nonprofits and educational programming.

The 317 grants will allow cultural organizations to retain staff to preserve and curate humanities collections, advance humanities research and maintain buildings and core operations, as well as to prepare buildings, exhibitions and programs for reopening.

Several recipients plan to use their grants to shift in-person programs and institutional resources online to reach a wider public during the pandemic, and other grantees will document the pandemic's impact on American communities.

Created in 1965, the NEH is an independent federal agency and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.