THE Board of Commissioners of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) approved a cumulative budget of P63.8 million for an assistance fund for arts and culture workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Facebook live session on April 23, NCCA Executive Director Al Ryan S. Alejandre and Deputy Executive Director Marichu Tellano said that the fund was approved through a referendum conducted from April 17 to 22.

Known as the “NCCA Assistance Program in Response to the Call for Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” it will augment NCCA’s initial P4-million quick response cash assistance program.

Deputy Executive Director Marichu Tellano said that the fund was gathered from the budget for institutional projects.

“The P63.8 million [was] drawn from the different projects with the confirmation of the grantees, proponents, and the project holders. Since they have already canceled their projects (due to the COVID-19 outbreak and enhanced community quarantine), we are given the authority for realignment,” she said.

The P63.8-million assistance fund consists of two components: P6.4 million will be allotted for the continuation of the cash assistance program for an additional 1,250 beneficiaries from the NCCA-TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers) registry, and those endorsed by the Artists Welfare of the Philippines, Inc. (AWPI) and Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP).

Meanwhile, the second component — the remaining P57.4 million — will be allocated for committee-driven grants, subsidy programs, or online projects and activities relevant to each committee’s mandate and/or an option to continue with the cash assistance program which provides a maximum of P5,000 (net of tax) to artists and cultural workers.

Mr. Alejandre noted that each national committee is given the decision to craft programs and projects to implement in relation to displaced workers in their respective committees.

The funds for the second component will be distributed to NCCA’s 19 national committees (P3.021 million per national committee).

“We let the committee plan out what they think is appropriate to their own sector,” Ms. Tellano said, adding that each national committee is to decide on the criteria for the selection of beneficiaries. The criteria and application details will be posted on the NCCA’s Facebook page.

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