National Coalition Launches $10 Million Artist Relief Fund

Artists, actors, musicians and other creatives can get assistance for lost work. (iStock)

A national philanthropic coalition on Wednesday announced Artist Relief, a $10 million fund distributing $5,000 unrestricted grants to artists financially affected by the novel coronavirus.

Artist Relief adds a robust nationwide fund to the patchwork of region- and discipline-based efforts to mitigate the economic effects of museum, gallery and performance venue shutdowns.

Practicing artists of any discipline aged 21 or older, who are able to receive taxable income and have primarily lived and worked in the United States and its territories for the past two years or more (regardless of citizenship status), are eligible to apply now for a $5,000 emergency grant.

The coalition will not be able to grant every applicant due to anticipated demand, the announcement cautions, but it continues to solicit contributions from individuals and institutions to replenish the fund. 100 percent of donations to the fund will be applied directly to aid.

Applicants will be reviewed by a collaborative group of cultural organizations nationwide. The arts funders coalition is prioritizing individual artists demonstrating the most severe financial need, and aims to distribute grants across a broad range of geography and creative disciplines.

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The multidisciplinary grant-maker coalition consisting of Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists secured $5 million in seed funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to match $5 million in contributions from more than 20 other private foundations.

“In hard times like these, we turn to the arts to illuminate and help us make meaning and find connection,” Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, said in a statement. “Without immediate intervention, individual artists and the arts ecosystem of which they are the foundation could sustain irreparable damage.”

The coalition on Wednesday also announced the launch of the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by national advocacy group Americans for the Arts, as well as coalition member Creative Capital’s development of a resource database for artists.

Artist Relief comes as Bay Area cultural organizations including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Exploratorium and Museum of the African Diaspora announce layoffs and furloughs affecting hundreds of employees. Many more independent contractors in the arts without benefits such as healthcare and paid sick leave also face a sudden loss of income.

KQED continues to update a running list of financial resources for Bay Area artists here.