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Jason Rapp

Artist Relief announces emergency fund extension

Artist Relief approaches $20MM as need increases

Female and male musicians leaving concert stage after performance

In response to the overwhelming need for emergency financial assistance in the creative community, the coalition of organizations administering the Artist Relief fund announces it has raised nearly $20 million and will extend grantmaking through December.

The coalition—the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists—will also continue raising awareness and funds as the precarity faced by artists has only worsened with coronavirus infection rates spiking again alongside the end of nation-wide eviction moratoriums, additional unemployment benefits, and other resources. Since opening the fund for applications on April 8, Artist Relief has received over 130,000 applications from artists in all states and territories, and across ten disciplines: Craft, Dance, Design, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing. To date, Artist Relief has distributed $13.5 million in funding to 2,700 individuals, at an average rate of 100 unrestricted $5,000 grants per week. To extend grantmaking through December, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has contributed an additional $2.5 million to the fund since its initial $5 million seed gift. Additional and recent funding also includes a $1 million gift and partnership with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, increased support from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort, and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and new funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bonnie Cashin Foundation, Cy Twombly Foundation, Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Poetry Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and additional partners listed here. In addition to the continued support of foundations, Artist Relief has received generous contributions totaling almost $1 million from thousands of individuals across the country working together to provide relief to the nation’s artists. “Over the last six months, we have witnessed artists face extraordinary fiscal challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. At Mellon, we have continued to work closely with Artist Relief and many other partners across the country to support artists as they navigate this difficult time,” noted Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a poet and memoirist. “We need artists as we work to heal and recover, and we continue to call on others to join us in supporting artists so they may continue to illuminate our path forward from this prolonged pandemic.”

 To date, Artist Relief has distributed $13.5 million in funding to 2,700 individuals at an average rate of 100 unrestricted $5,000 grants per week.


[caption id="attachment_45561" align="alignright" width="250"]Black male musician sitting at piano and interacting with audience Booker T. Jones photographed at Hardley Stricly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA October 7, 2018©Jay Blakesberg[/caption] Due to demand, applicants demonstrating the most severe needs in four categories—rent, food, medical, and dependent care—have been prioritized. The coalition adopted an explicit equity lens in building the application and selection process to address structural access barriers to relief grants encountered by disabled artists, individuals of color, low-income communities, and other vulnerable populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Of the 2,700 grantees supported across the initial six grant cycles, artists have ranged from those early in their careers to others who are established pillars in their fields, revealing the precariousness of the arts economic ecosystem as a whole. Since April, evidence has shown that the needs of artists are becoming increasingly dire. Based on data from the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers administered by Research Partner Americans for the Arts: 62% of artists became fully unemployed because of COVID-19. 95% experienced income loss. 80% of artists do not yet have a plan to recover from the crisis. “As this public health crisis continues to rage, it has become clear that there is no real safety net for artists. As institutions reopen, they do so without their education departments, positions once filled by artists. Musicians have seen their gigs vanish, and poets and writers who lack healthcare find themselves more vulnerable than ever before. And now, as fall begins, swaths of creative practitioners nationwide might lose their adjunct positions,” says Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets, a coalition partner. “It is imperative that we continue this fund to provide this bridge of relief for as many artists as we can.” Artist Relief was launched to provide an economic lifeline to artists and spread awareness through resources and partnerships. It was also an experiment in rethinking how nationwide grantmaking might work. Rather than relying on one organization to administer this relief effort, Artist Relief sought collaboration among existing entities, each bringing different expertise. ' “It has been deeply humbling to administer this fund and work alongside colleagues to maximize support for artists at this time,” adds Stacy Tenenbaum Stark, executive director of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, a coalition partner. “By working together, collectively we have assisted a larger population of artists than any of our individual organizations could have reached on our own.”
  • Artists needing support can apply online at artistrelief.org.
  • Tax-deductible donations can still be made at artistrelief.org; 100 percent of donations will be applied directly to aid and will help extend the fund for as long as possible.

About Artist Relief

Artist Relief is an initiative organized by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists that have come together in this unprecedented moment guided by the understanding that the wellbeing of artists has financial, professional, social, and mental dimensions, and should be fostered with a holistic framework of support. The coalition is supported by CERF+, The Design Vanguard, and Sundance Institute as Field Partners, Americans for the Arts as Research Partner, dozens of cultural nonprofits as Review Partners, and many generous Funding Partners. All partners listed here.

Jason Rapp

Sundance Institute joins Artist Relief effort

Artist Relief snags high-profile field partner


Artist Relief, the coalition of national arts grantmakers announced recently, is proud to announce Sundance Institute as its first field partner.

In this new partnership, Sundance Institute will lend its expertise in the worlds of film, media and theatre, invest directly into the relief fund to act as a regranting channel for independent artists in those fields, and support the overall development and refinement of Artist Relief’s efforts to assist artists affected by COVID-19.

A national, multidisciplinary partnership between Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists, Artist Relief is an emergency coalition to provide emergency $5,000 grants and information resources to artists in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Artist Relief’s discipline-specific Field Partners will be integral to scaling the coalition’s initial efforts during this unprecedented emergency. Other partners will be announced in the weeks to come.

“We greatly admire the founding members of Artist Relief and their leadership in rapid, equitable funding of individual artists. They are the perfect vehicle to deliver the need-based giving that this moment demands. Sundance Institute is proud to join this collective initiative by investing directly into the fund and lending our expertise to ensure film, media, and theatre artists get the support they need during this unprecedented crisis,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute.

Artist Relief launched on April 8th with $10 million, consisting of $5 million in seed funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation matched with $5 million in initial contributions from an array of foundations across the United States. Its Field Partner program premiers alongside a sustained fundraising campaign designed to continually expand the coalition’s impact.

“Sundance Institute is an immeasurably important cultural institution and titan in their field. We’re thrilled to welcome them to Artist Relief as we deepen our work to support artists in film, media, and theatre. We offer their example to other organizations looking to support their disciplines by strengthening platforms like Artist Relief so we can collectively manage the difficult months ahead,” said Deana Haggag, President and CEO of United States Artists, a coalition member of Artist Relief.

Since opening applications, Artist Relief has been met with an overwhelming response from the country’s artists. As expected, applications for the $5,000 emergency grant have dramatically outpaced Artist Relief’s resources, and underscored the urgent need to expand fundraising. At this time, Artist Relief is the only organization providing direct financial support to multiple artistic disciplines across the country. As it expands, the Field Partner program will grow to include like-minded organizations eager to regrant to their constituencies directly through Artist Relief, as well as play a key leadership role in the coalition’s advocacy and outreach strategies moving forward.

“Starting the Field Partner program is emblematic of the momentum taking hold in the field. We know that we must do more, and so we are mobilizing together,” said Carolyn Ramo, Executive Director of Artadia, a coalition member of Artist Relief.

Artist Relief is an emergency initiative, relying on the support of a growing number of foundations and individual donors, and will continue to evolve as the needs of the country’s artists shift over the coming months. Tax-deductible donations can be made at artistrelief.org; 100 percent of donations will be applied directly to aid.


About Artist Relief

Artist Relief is an initiative organized by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists—all small to mid-sized national arts grantmakers—that have come together in this unprecedented moment guided by the understanding that the wellbeing of artists has financial, professional, social, and mental dimensions, and should be fostered with a holistic framework of support.


About Sundance Institute

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute's signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter's Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


About Coalition Partners

  • Academy of American Poets — The Academy of American Poets is a national membership-based organization that supports American poets at all stages of their careers and fosters the appreciation of contemporary poetry.
  • Artadia — Artadia is a national non-profit organization that identifies innovative visual artists and supports them with unrestricted financial awards and connections to a network of opportunities.
  • Creative Capital — Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel, gatherings, and career development services.
  • Foundation for Contemporary Arts — Founded in 1963 by John Cage and Jasper Johns, and still led by artists, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) encourages, sponsors, and promotes innovative work in the arts made by individuals working in dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts.
  • MAP Fund — The MAP Fund invests in artistic production in live performance, as the critical foundation of imagining, and ultimately co-creating, a more equitable and vibrant society.
  • United States Artists — United States Artists is an independent nonprofit and nongovernmental philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting artists and cultural practitioners—in all disciplines and across the country—with unrestricted awards.
  • National YoungArts Foundation — National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

About Launch Funders

Artist Relief launched with a generous $5 million seed gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to match an initial $5 million in funding generously provided by the following foundations: 7|G Foundation, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Amazon Literary Partnership, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Arison Arts Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, Ford Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort, Jerome Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Kraus Family Foundation, LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, Metabolic Studio, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Open Society Foundations, Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Richard Salomon Family Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Sue Hostetler and Beau Wrigley Family Foundation, Teiger Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The Willem de Kooning Foundation.

David Platts

Constituent updates on arts relief aid, Part II

Artist Relief and more on CARES Act relief


(Last week's update, Part I, is available here.) This week’s update includes a major announcement about relief for artists and clarification about recovery funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Artist Relief Fund

You might have read here yesterday that Americans for the Arts and a consortium of funders introduced the new $10 million Artist Relief Fund for artists facing dire financial circumstances due to COVID-19. The fund launches with $5 million in seed funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation matched with $5 million in initial contributions from an array of foundations across the United States. Each week through September, Artist Relief will provide grants to 100 artists from multiple disciplines. It relies on the support of a growing number of foundations and individual donors and will continue to evolve over the coming months as the needs of artists shift. Organizers will continue to raise funds to assist with the rapidly escalating needs of the country's artists. Applications are now open, and the deadline to apply for the first funding cycle is April 23 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Subsequent deadlines are:
  • Cycle II: April 24-May 21 (closes 11:59 p.m. ET)
  • Cycle III: May 22-June 18 (closes 11:59 p.m. ET)
  • Cycle IV: June 19-July 23 (closes 11:59 p.m. ET)
  • Cycle V: July 24-August 20 (closes 11:59 p.m. ET)
Those in need can apply for assistance here, and those who are able may donate to the fund here.

NEA/CARES Act Relief

Back to CARES Act funding. The CARES Act passed by Congress provides a total of $75 million in funding to the NEA.  The NEA will direct 60% of this funding as direct grants to organizations who have received direct NEA grants in the past four years Those organizations should have received communication from the NEA already. The South Carolina Arts Commission’s disbursement will come out of the remaining 40 percent, which the NEA will apportion among the states according to population. Our team is developing guidelines to get critical relief flowing in South Carolina. An announcement will come soon.
Our most recent study revealed that 115,000 friends and neighbors in South Carolina work in jobs supported by the arts and creative sector. My team and I feel it is important to note that arts relief funding is not a “handout for arts projects,” as some misconstrue. Rather, arts relief supports organizations that provide income and benefits for individuals (and often their families) in arts and creative jobs who might otherwise lose access to basic necessities, not to mention dignity and quality of life, through no fault of their own. Knowing we can help drives us to serve our constituents. For ways you can be involved in advocacy efforts, I again direct you to our partners at the South Carolina Arts Alliance.
Photo by John Guccione www.advergroup.com from Pexels

Jason Rapp

$10 million Artist Relief Fund announced

Americans for the Arts committed to supporting the arts across America


Today, a consortium of funders announced the creation of the Artist Relief Fund, a $10 million national emergency relief fund for artists and creative workers that will provide $5,000 no-strings-attached grants. It is intended for anyone who earns income from their creative or artistic practice and who has also been affected by COVID-19. Americans for the Arts was brought on as the research partner in that effort. In that role, it was asked to develop and deploy the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, which is designed to: capture financial and creative impact of COVID-19 on creative workers, highlight the resiliency and generosity of the creative sector, and make sure that the 5 million creative workers in the U.S. are supported and heard during this ongoing crisis and the eventual recovery. This new survey is a counterpart to our ongoing Economic Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Arts and Cultural Organizations survey, which over 11,000 organizations have completed to date. The South Carolina Arts Commission has been encouraging participation from the outset in lieu of conducting its own survey within the state. In addition to ensuring creative workers can sustain their practice, the goal in collecting data is to provide research that will support federal policy efforts in the next phase of stimulus and COVID-19 recovery; policies that are specific to individual creative workers. The SCAC invites you to share the Artist Relief Fund webpage and funding application, as well as the survey, with any artists or creative workers you know who have been negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.