Artist Relief fund to distribute $10 million in emergency aid directly to artists

Artist Relief fund to distribute $10 million in emergency aid directly to artists

While venues are shuttered and gatherings paused, the art world has been faced with the monumental task of providing income for those affected by COVID-19 closures. Crowdsourced fundraisers — such as the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund, which has raised over $75,000 — have cropped up in the wake to offer some quick, direct relief for workers. Making large strides in this effort, a new coalition of arts grantmakers have convened to launch a direct-to-artist emergency relief fund.

The $10 million fund Artist Relief was announced Wednesday by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National Young Arts Foundation and United States Artists. The fund will provide unrestricted $5,000 grants directly to artists facing financial emergencies caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Artist Relief” was seeded by a $5 million gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which was in turn matched through contributions made by over 20 foundations. The organizers stated that they plan to continue to raise money for the grant program to “assist with the rapidly escalating needs of the country’s artists.”

“In hard times like these, we turn to the arts to illuminate and help us make meaning and find connection. Without immediate intervention, individual artists and the arts ecosystem of which they are the foundation could sustain irreparable damage,” Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, said in a statement. “As artists confront these new fiscal realities, we are proud to support this vital effort to address artists’ urgent needs. We call on others to join us in supporting artists so they may continue to be our lights, chroniclers and connectors throughout this crisis and beyond.”

The consortium also launched the “COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers” to hone in on the needs of artists. Designed by Americans for the Arts, the data collected from the survey will help to evaluate the current situation while also accessing longer-term stress points. Additionally, as part of the relief program, Creative Capital — a member of the coalition — will maintain a database for artists to access professional, social and mental wellness resources.

“As an artist, Artadia board member and grantee of many of the coalition partners, I am relieved that these nonprofits have taken on this ambitious task,” Nick Cave said in the announcement. “The economic security of most artists is already so precarious, and this crisis could have an irrevocable toll on our community. There needs to be immediate intervention and I’m proud that so many nonprofits, philanthropists and partners are chipping in to do what they can.”

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Applicants for the grant must be active artists over the age of 21, able to receive taxable income in the United States, and have lived and worked primarily within the country over the past two years. According to the announcement, the fund will operate over the course of the next six months and priority will be given to those “demonstrating the most severe financial needs.” Artists across disciplines are encouraged to apply for the grants. Cultural non-profits from around the country will aid in determining who will receive the relief. The funds will be disbursed within two weeks of an approved application.

Those wishing to contribute a tax-deductible donation can do so through the Artist Relief website. The full amount of the donation will be directly applied to the aid pool.

Artists can apply here.