Coronavirus Relief Fund Raises Nearly $20 Million for Artists

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The Artist Relief fund, a national coalition of arts grantmakers that distributes $5,000 grants to creative professionals affected by the coronavirus pandemic, has awarded $13.5 million to 2,700 individuals since April.

Now, thanks to additional funding from partners like the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the coalition announced Thursday that it will continue to distribute grants through the end of the year.

The additional contributions, including $2.5 million from the Mellon Foundation and $1 million from Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a San Francisco music festival, bring the total raised to nearly $20 million. The Mellon Foundation also provided a $5 million seed gift to the initial $10 million pool the fund started with.

“Over the last six months, we have witnessed artists face extraordinary fiscal challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis,” Elizabeth Alexander, the president of the Mellon Foundation, said. “We continue to call on others to join us in supporting artists so they may continue to illuminate our path forward from this prolonged pandemic.”

Artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, dancers and other creative professionals who are 18 and older and facing “dire financial emergencies” because of the pandemic can apply for a $5,000 grant. The organization said that applicants demonstrating the most severe needs in four categories — rent, food, medical, and dependent care — will be prioritized.

The fund is administered by seven national arts grantmakers — the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists.

The coalition said it has focused on remedying structural barriers to accessing relief grants for disabled artists, people of color, those in low-income communities and other vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Of the 2,700 awardees to date, 48 percent are women, 24 percent are Black, 14 percent are Latino and 7 percent are members of Indigenous groups.

Since April, a Covid-19 survey administered by the nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts shows, 62 percent of artists in the country had lost all employment because of the coronavirus, 95 percent experienced income loss and 80 percent of artists surveyed do not yet have a plan to recover from the crisis.

The fund has received more than 130,000 applications. It distributes an average of 100 of the $5,000 grants per week.

Although individuals can only receive one grant, they can reapply if they are not immediately selected, a spokesman, Adam Abdalla, said.

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