Coalition of Arts Funders Launches Emergency Artist Relief Fund

A coalition of national arts grantmakers, consisting of Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists, announces the launch of Artist Relief, which will provide rapid, unrestricted $5,000 relief grants to assist artists facing dire financial emergencies due to the impact of COVID-19; serve as an informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Research Partner Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists moving forward.

Grant applications open today at artistrelief.org.

An unprecedented national, multidisciplinary partnership between seven arts grantmakers and a consortium of foundations, Artist Relief is an ambitious effort to support the country’s individual artists in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund will launch with $10 million, consisting of $5 million in seed funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation matched with $5 million in initial contributions from an array of foundations across the United States. Organizers will continue to fundraise beyond the launch of the grant program to assist with the rapidly escalating needs of the country’s artists.

“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,” noted Elizabeth Alexander,  President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a poet and memoirist. “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.”

According to Artists and Other Cultural Workers: A Statistical Portrait, a study published in 2019 by the Office of Research & Analysis (ORA) at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), there are 2.5 million working artists in the United States. To meet the needs of as many artists as possible, donations to Artist Relief can be made at artistrelief.org.

“Now is the time for institutions to come together, each bringing its own strengths, to support the country’s artistic communities in the challenging months that lie ahead. We hope this coalition will directly impact artists who have lost income sources and opportunities and are in dire need,” said Sarah Arison, Board Chair, National YoungArts Foundation. 

“As a foundation that was established by one of the most recognized artists of the 20th century, the Warhol Foundation is committed to directing its resources towards the many artists, recognized and unrecognized, facing financial hardship at this time. We are proud to be a part of the group of prominent funders and artist-endowed foundations supporting Artist Relief’s efforts to address the needs of the nation’s artists in this moment of crisis,” said Joel Wachs, President of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The fund will operate through the next six months, as organizers monitor the impact of the pandemic. Practicing artists living in all fifty states, territories, and Tribal Nations, working in any discipline, are eligible to apply for the $5,000 grant. Applicants must be 21 or older, able to receive taxable income in the United States regardless of their citizenship status, and have lived and worked primarily in the United States over the last two years. Due to expected demand, Artist Relief recognizes it will not be able to fund every applicant. Artists demonstrating the most severe financial needs will be prioritized, with an emphasis on funding widely across disciplines and geographies. Applications will be reviewed and assessed for eligibility and need in collaboration with cultural nonprofits across the country, who will assist in the determination and selection process.

“As an artist, Artadia Board Member, and grantee of many of the coalition partners, I am relieved that these nonprofits have taken on this ambitious task. The economic security of most artists is already so precarious, and this crisis could have an irrevocable toll on our community. 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,” said Nick Cave, artist and Artadia Board Member.

“Art is an antidote. We need its power of healing in our world right now,” said Meredith Monk, composer, performer, and interdisciplinary artist and 2020 Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award recipient, MAP Fund recipient, and recipient of other coalition awards. “These seem like impossible times, and they would be, if it weren’t for artists and those who support them.”

Artist Relief is an emergency initiative, relying on the support of a growing number of foundations and individual donors, and will continue to evolve as the needs of the country’s artists shift over the coming months.

Tax-deductible donations can be made at artistrelief.org; 100 percent of donations will be applied directly to aid.

In addition to the grant program, Artist Relief will also administer the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, developed by Americans for the Arts, to collect information that will be useful to the field in better understanding artists’ needs in both the immediate and longer terms. Additionally, coalition member Creative Capital will maintain a publicly available database of resources to support the professional, social, and mental well-being of artists.

“As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only way forward is to work together to tackle this massive challenge. We are proud to have organized with our colleagues to launch this effort in service of artists across the country. We hope this initial $10 million investment is just the beginning of a fund that will reach as many artists as possible during this difficult time,” said Ed Henry, Board Chair, United States Artists.

Artist Relief launches with a generous $5 million seed gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to match an initial $5 million in funding generously provided by the following foundations: 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, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Kraus Family Foundation, LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, Metabolic Studio, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Open Society Foundations, 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.

ABOUT COALITION PARTNERS

Academy of American Poets — The Academy of American Poets is a national membership-based organization that supports American poets at all stages of their careers and fosters the appreciation of contemporary poetry.

Artadia — Artadia is a national non-profit organization that identifies innovative visual artists and supports them with unrestricted financial awards and connections to a network of opportunities.

Creative Capital — Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel, gatherings, and career development services.

Foundation for Contemporary Arts — Founded in 1963 by John Cage and Jasper Johns, and still led by artists, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) encourages, sponsors, and promotes innovative work in the arts made by individuals working in dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts.

MAP Fund — The MAP Fund invests in artistic production in live performance, as the critical foundation of imagining, and ultimately co-creating, a more equitable and vibrant society.

United States Artists — United States Artists is an independent nonprofit and nongovernmental philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting artists and cultural practitioners—in all disciplines and across the country—with unrestricted awards.

National YoungArts Foundation — National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

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