Navigating COVID-19 is stressful, no matter how you cut it. A main worry for many is how to stay afloat, financially, during such an uncertain time, and for artists, the path forward might seem tumultuous. Historically, tough times have led to incredible creative spurts and the general public have looked to artists and their creations during those same times to find inspiration. To help support artists as we move forward in the time of COVID-19, a coalition of arts funders have been working together to create Artist Relief, an emergency art fund that will distribute $10 million in funding to creatives in the US.
Launching today, Artist Relief will be accepting applications from artists living and working in the US to receive unrestricted grants of $5,000. Their hope is to quickly lighten the financial burden artists are facing as the pandemic continues.
“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,” stated Elizabeth Alexander, poet, memoirist, and president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a key contributor to Artist Relief, in a press release. “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 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation contributed an initial $5 million to begin funding for Artist Relief. Matching that donation, another $5 million has been raised by a number of organizations including: 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, Kraus Family Foundation, LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, Metabolic Studio, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, 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.
Spearheaded by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists, the initiative marks the first time many of the participating organizations have worked together in such a way. Thus, Artist Relief is one of many ways that communities are coming together in a time of uncertainty and it could set a precedence for philanthropy in the future.
As of now, Artist Relief plans to operate for six months, monitoring artists’ needs as the pandemic unfolds. To be eligible to apply, artists must have lived primarily in the US over the last two years and be at least 21 years old. A 2019 study published by the Office of Research Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts found that there are 2.5 million artists working in the US. Fund organisers, therefore, realise that there will be high demand for aid moving forward, but hope to pinpoint artists most in need to provide them assistance first.
“Art is an antidote. We need its power of healing in our world right now,” said composer, performer, and interdisciplinary artist Meredith Monk, who won the 2020 Foundation for Contemporary Art John Cage Award and has also been a MAP Fund recipient. “These seem like impossible times,” she continued in her statement, “and they would be if it weren’t for artists and those who support them.”
If you or an artist you know are interested in applying for a grant from Artist Relief, you can find information regarding the application and its terms and conditions at artistrelief.org. Artist Relief will continue to accept donations after its April 8th launch. Information on making donations, which will be entirely applied to the fund, can be found here.