On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) into law. The overarching aim of this historic legislation is to fuel the nation’s equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill allocates an estimated $1.9 trillion in stimulus to aid communities across the United States, with particular focus on those that inequities have disproportionately impacted over time.

The City of Berkeley has directed $2,000,000 in ARPA funds to the Civic Arts Commission to support the recovery of the local arts and culture sector. The Commission engaged the Cultural Strategies Council to design a tool to guide the equitable distribution of these funds in a values-aligned manner, presenting a unique opportunity to connect federal policy with local principles and intentional decision-making practices.

The resulting scoring matrix and process integrate ARPA’s stated aims with the City of Berkeley and the Civic Arts Commission’s equity charters. Consequently, the tool will prioritize potential grantees who are actively working to mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on people of color and others who have been historically marginalized and adversely affected by durable injustices.

The timeline for this work was extremely swift, in accordance with the City’s commitment to distributing funds now. This fruits of our partnership demonstrates what can be accomplished, with relative ease, when leadership, vision and values work together.

Romare Bearden, Berkeley – The City and It’s people (1973)