The Ashland Independent Film Festival has received a hefty award to help keep the institution afloat.

The festival learned this month that it would get $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

The grant will inject money into the annual event, which normally brings 7,000 people to the Southern Oregon city but lost ticket sales, membership dues and other forms of revenue after it was forced to scrap operations as usual and pivot to a digital event this year due to COVID-19.

That money will support the festival's educational programs as well as other programming, like Varsity World Film Week in October. More than three-quarters of the festival's budget is spent locally and will, therefore, remain in the Rogue Valley.

In response to the pandemic, the festival moved online for its 19th year and extended screenings from five days to 24. That effort was recognized by both Smithsonian and MovieMaker magazines as resulting in one of the best virtual film festivals of 2020.