It’s easy to feel as if what we do as designers, artists, writers and creators is futile, somehow means less, or is frivolous in the face of international trauma at such scale.
A new initiative is here to remind us, though, that what we do matters—a great, monumental, deal.
In an unprecedented effort, a collective of arts grantmakers and foundations have banded together to create Artist Relief—currently a $10 million fund offering rapid $5,000 grants to individual creatives facing dire financial situations because of COVID-19. The fund will remain open through the next six months, and practicing artists living in any U.S. state, territory and Tribal Nation who are at least 21 are eligible. There are no discipline restrictions, but artists must be able to receive taxable income in the U.S. (regardless of citizenship status), and must have lived and worked in the U.S. over the past two years. Those in the most need will receive priority, and applications are officially open now.
A joint project of the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists, Artist Relief consists of $5 million in seed money from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, matched by $5 million in initial contributions from a variety of foundations across the country. (The organizers will be continuing to fundraise beyond the launch, too.)
“In hard times like these, we turn to the arts to illuminate and help us make meaning and find connection,” poet Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, said in a release. “Without immediate intervention, individual artists and the arts ecosystem of which they are the foundation could sustain irreparable damage.”
Anyone in the position of doing so can also make a tax deductible donation to support the fund. Artist Relief is also curating a COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, developed by Americans for the Arts, to study artists’ needs now and in the future.
“The economic security of most artists is already so precarious, and this crisis could have an irrevocable toll on our community,” said Nick Cave, artist and Artadia board member. “There needs to be immediate intervention, and I’m proud that so many nonprofits, philanthropists and partners are chipping in to do what they can.”
For more, visit the new Artist Relief website.