Light Work Receives $50,000 National Endowment for the Arts CARES Act Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded Light Work a $50,000 grant as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Light Work is one of 855 organizations that the NEA selected from 3,100 applicants nation-wide who requested $157 million with $45 million available in direct assistance. The non-matching funds support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities costs.

The NEA has been an important funding partner with Light Work for nearly 50 years,” said Jeffrey Hoone, Light Work’s executive director. “We are extremely grateful for this grant as we continue our core mission to support emerging and under-recognized artists during this challenging time.

The CARES Act recognizes the nonprofit arts industry as an essential sector of America’s economy. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded funds to nonprofit arts organizations across the country to help these entities and their employees endure the economic hardships caused by the forced closure of their operations due to the spread of COVID-19. The grants support exemplary projects in artist communities, arts education, dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literary arts, local arts agencies, media arts, museums, music, musical theater, opera, presenting and multidisciplinary works, theater, and visuals arts.

During the past five months, Light Work has navigated the challenges COVID-19 pandemic-related closure and tallied numerous successes. This emergency grant helps Light Work continue to deliver on a 48-year legacy of advocacy through exhibitions, an awarding-winning publication entitled Contact Sheet, a state-of-the-art community-access digital services lab, and a permanent Collection comprising more than 4,000 photo related objects and images. Light Work remains devoted to serving the artists and the community in meaningful and safe ways. Staff and board eagerly anticipate reopening with new exhibitions, online educational opportunities, and remote print services that include safety protocols.

At this challenging moment for arts organizations across the country, Light Work is extremely grateful to receive support from the NEA as part of the CARES Act,” says Light Work director Shane Lavalette. “This grant will offset some of the pandemic’s financial impacts and ensure that we can continue to provide artists with support they need through this difficult and uncertain time. 

Like many cities across our national landscape, Syracuse is poised for a reimagining of arts engagement within our sites. Arts and culture are vital parts of our city’s dynamic economy. In the Greater Syracuse area arts and culture generate over $130 million in economic activity, support more than 5,000 full-time jobs, provide $110 million in household income, and deliver $20 million in local and state government revenue. This NEA funding helps support those jobs and nonprofit organizations during this time of great need. Arts and culture will persevere as significant contributors to Syracuse’s community life and recovery. 

All of us at the National Endowment for the Arts are keenly aware that arts organizations across the country are hurting, struggling, and trying to survive. Our supply of funding does not come close to meeting the demand for assistance,” said NEA chair Mary Anne Carter.

Congress established the NEA in 1965 as the independent federal agency whose funding and support allow Americans to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the skills in every community across America. Visit​ to learn more.

To become a supporter of Light Work yourself, consider making a contribution by beginning or renewing your subscription. We encourage you to help us achieve our goal of matching the NEA’s generous support. Contribute today and get something back in return. Browse limited-edition prints, signed books, and Contact Sheet at