New Artist Relief survey finds that 62% of US artists are now unemployed

New Artist Relief survey finds that 62% of US artists are now unemployed
Recent survey of US artists finds more than 60% have become unemployed and 95% have suffered from income loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy Flickr Commons.

The pandemic has severely tested various aspects of life. In a few short weeks, everything as we knew it changed and many parts of life, which six months ago felt reliable, are no longer clear. One of the biggest worries faced by many is what the future has in store for their careers and for artists, it’s a shared reality. Just weeks after announcing a $10 million grant programme to assist artists struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, Artist Relief has released a survey shedding light of the extent to which the pandemic is affecting artists in the US.

At the end of its first cycle on April 24th, Artist Relief received more than 55,000 applications in just 15 days for a series of 200 $5,000 unrestricted grants. So far, well over 10,000 applicants have participated in the survey conducted by Artist Relief with the help of Americans for the Arts. The findings have painted a dire picture of the artist community in the US – where the grants are available for artists.

Presently, a staggering 62 percent of artist have become unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 95 percent of those who responded have reported income losses of some kind as a result of the pandemic. As projects have been cancelled, commissions reneged, and artist have faced illness, among other factors related to COVID-19’s impact, artists anticipate facing an average of more than $20,000 in income decline during 2020 – as of April 24th, that figure, on average, was just over $27,000. While we continue to adjust to what the pandemic will mean in the coming months, more than 80 percent of those surveyed do not yet have a plan for how they will recover, financially, from the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest factors that artists face are similar the worries of many, regardless of profession. When asked what the biggest obstacles have been during the pandemic, more than 65 percent responded that accessing spaces, supplies, resources, and the people necessary to create is a major issue with working at the moment. Likewise, stress and anxiety concerning the state of the world was reported by those surveyed as an equally difficult challenge.

“These survey results will prove to be a key piece to further our local, state, and federal policy efforts specific to individual creative workers in the next phase of COVID-19 recover,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Americans for the Arts is steadfastly committed to ensuring that creative workers can sustain their practice.”

Since launching on April 8th, Artist Relief has continued to raise money to benefit artists during these unprecedented times. Through a number of partnerships and individual contributions, a further $1.1 million has been donated to the emergency initiative. Artist Relief has also created a new partnership tier to further support artists in the US. The Sundance Institute was the first organization to join forces with Artist Relief. Additionally, Artist Relief is introducing another facet to their initiative this week with a series of weekly conversations and “curated wellness sessions” seeking to create community while keeping participants informed.

To apply for Artist Relief grants, you can find information at The same site can be used to donate to the fund as well.