In response to the overwhelming need for emergency financial assistance in the creative community, the coalition of organizations administering the Artist Relief fund—the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists—announces it has raised nearly $20 million and will extend grantmaking through December. The coalition 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.
Artists needing support can apply online at artistrelief.org. The fund distributes unrestricted $5,000 grants to artists in the United States and US territories.
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.
Since opening the fund for applications on April 8th, 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 totalling 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.”
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.”
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.