Organizations are offering medical emergency grants while other groups crowdsource data quantifying the impact of the health crisis on the cultural labor market.



The Boston Artist Relief Fund, CERF+ Emergency Assistance, and the Artist Relief Tree are some of the initiatives hoping to help workers in the cultural sector impacted by coronavirus Flickr

As the financial hit on workers in the cultural sectors in the US and UK begins to rise due fears surrounding the spread of coronavirus, The Art Newspaper has compiled an initial list of grants and other resources aimed at benefitting artists and cultural producers at this time.

Emergency grants for artists and writers

The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has compiled a comprehensive list of emergency grants for artists and writers and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has partnered with the organization to launch a new grant program to assist professional artists in need of medical aid, providing one-time $5,000 grants for unexpected medical emergencies. The timing of the grant “unfortunately coincided with the increased threat of Covid-19 to the global community”, a spokeswoman for the foundation tells The Art Newspaper. The goal of the grant is to “provide artists with some peace of mind during stressful times and help them to get back to their creative lives as soon as possible”.

Some organizations, such as the non-profit CERF+ Emergency Assistance, have shifted their assistance program to focus on cases specifically related to coronavirus and artists who require intensive medical care. “Our thoughts are with the artist community who are dealing with canceled shows, exhibitions and conferences; it’s challenging to live with so many unknowns and lost income,” the group says in a statement.

The Boston Artist Relief Fund also says its next round of grants will focus on Boston-based artists “whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by coronavirus”, the fund says in a statement. “With events of all types being canceled to reduce the spread of Covid-19, people who make income partially or fully through gigs and freelance work are losing critical opportunities to support their well-being.”

Members of A Blade of Grass, the New York-based non-profit organization supporting socially engaged art, are “discussing, internally and within our network, and with concrete solutions to evolve other the next few weeks, options for developing programs for an online platform allowing us to continue paying honorariums to artists, writers, activists, and academics—many of whom are freelance and devastated by the loss of these opportunities over the coming months”, says a spokeswoman. “In the moment, we feel that the most helpful thing we can do is send money that artists can use on things like rent and food, and later address the reality of projects that will need to be massively reshaped and re-scaled,” adds the executive director, Deborah Fisher.

Meanwhile, the non-profit organization Pen America says it is “working to strengthen” its emergency fund for writers in response to the coronavirus outbreak and its implications for the literary community. The emergency fund provides published or produced writers around $2,000, depending on the situation and level of need. “This grant existed before the crisis but we’re working to recharge it for this moment,” says a spokesman for the organization, which plans to share more details in the coming weeks.

Resource Repositories

Creative Capital has launched an ongoing list of resources for artists during the coronavirus outbreak. There are also newly-launched websites, such as Covid-19 and Freelance Artists, which provide a rolling list of funding resources, advocacy and legal and information, crowdfunding efforts and general information about coronavirus. The Brooklyn Arts Council has also launched a digital booklet of resources on healthcare, funding and other information for artists.

The London-based listings project Seb’s Art List has also launched a platform containing information and resources for those impacted by coronavirus in the London arts community, including a list of open calls, health tips and links for work and workers. The platform is “a place where anyone working in and around the art world can come check-in, stay connected and be heard,” says its founder, Max Mallows. “I wanted to bring the arts community together in a tough time so we can come out stronger the other end.”

Marguerite London, a social membership group for women in the visual arts, has launched a networking list to connect creators with available jobs and gigs. “As we’ve had to cancel our [networking] events for the foreseeable, it was important to act quickly to provide an alternative space in which people of all genders could come together to support one another at this difficult time,” the group’s founder Joanna Payne tells The Art Newspaper. “While it’s unfortunate that these circumstances have called for such a forum, we’re over the moon to be able to offer a service that is working for both employers and employees.”


Several crowdfunding campaigns have also appeared in the past week, including the Artist Relief Tree (ART), which has collected more than $172,000 and plans to distribute $250 donations to artists on a first-come, first-serve basis once it reaches its goal of $250,000.

Surveys to measure the economic impact of coronavirus

The Artists’ Literacies Institute has launched a document asking non-salaried and salaried artists and gig workers in the cultural sector to register their employment status and projected income and losses due to coronavirus. The organization is also encouraging event organizers to share the document with the workers impacted. It plans to share the data with arts organizations and funders to show the scale of the impact of the outbreak.

“Our society proclaims a love of art and culture and the well-to-do use their donations to culture as badges of honor, but what we’ve set up is a system where we work out of ‘love’ for what we do, and those who ’support’ the arts do so without establishing any kind of security or sustainability for the people who make it,” says Andrew Freiband, the founder and director of the Artists’ Literacies Institute. “Our goal in aggregating the artist, freelance and creative gig worker data is to share it with arts organizations who can pass it to funders, such as governments, foundations, private donors and etc, to ensure that relief funding is at a scale proportionate to need.”

The non-profit organization Americans for the Arts has also launched a survey aimed at evaluating the impact of coronavirus on arts and culture in the US, and the Brooklyn Arts Council has released its own survey geared at gauging the impact specifically on Brooklyn-based artists and arts organizations.