Artist Relief Extends to December With Funds Approaching $20 Million

by Christopher Blay September 24, 2020


The Artist Relief Fund, which was announced in April in response to the overwhelming need for emergency financial assistance in the creative community due to COVID-19, is extending its funding application period, which was scheduled to end in October, to December. The coalition of organizations administering the fund, which includes the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists, has raised nearly $20 million for the extension.

More than 130,000 artists have applied. They span multiple states and territories, as well as disciplines, including Craft, Dance, Design, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing. Of the applications received, Artist Relief has reported distribution of  $13.5 million in funding thus far to 2,700 individuals, amounting to an average rate of 100 unrestricted $5,000 grants per week.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has contributed an additional $2.5 million to the fund, adding to its initial $5 million seed gift, is one of many foundations giving additional funds. The funding includes a $1 million gift and partnership with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and increased support from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort, and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. There’s new funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bonnie Cashin Foundation, Cy Twombly Foundation, Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Poetry Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and additional partners. For the complete list, please go here. Artist Relief has also received almost $1 million in donations from thousands of individuals across the country.

“Over the last six months, we have witnessed artists face extraordinary fiscal challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. At Mellon, we have continued to work closely with Artist Relief and many other partners across the country to support artists as they navigate this difficult time,” notes Elizabeth Alexander, President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “We need artists as we work to heal and recover, and 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.”

The COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, administered by Research Partner Americans for the Arts, has quantified the needs of artists during the coronavirus pandemic. It reveals that 62% of artists became fully unemployed because of COVID-19, while 95% experienced income loss and 80% of artists don’t yet have a pathway to recovery.

“As this public health crisis continues to rage, it has become clear that there is no real safety net for artists. As institutions reopen, they do so without their education departments, positions once filled by artists,” states Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, a coalition partner. “Musicians have seen their gigs vanish, and poets and writers who lack healthcare find themselves more vulnerable than ever before. And now, as fall begins, swaths of creative practitioners nationwide might lose their adjunct positions. It is imperative that we continue this fund to provide this bridge of relief for as many artists as we can.”

To apply for the Artist Relief Fund, or to contribute tax-deductible donations, please go here. Artist Relief states that 100 percent of donations will be applied directly to aid and will help extend the fund for as long as possible. “Due to demand, applicants demonstrating the most severe needs in four categories — rent, food, medical, and dependent care — have been prioritized.”


Artist Relief is an initiative organized by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists that have come together in this unprecedented moment guided by the understanding that the wellbeing of artists has financial, professional, social, and mental dimensions, and should be fostered with a holistic framework of support. The coalition is supported by CERF+, The Design Vanguard, and Sundance Institute as Field Partners, Americans for the Arts as Research Partner, dozens of cultural nonprofits as Review Partners, and many generous Funding Partners. All partners listed here.

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