Artist Relief Fund surpasses $100,000 in donations, new goal of $250,000 set
While we realize we have a long road ahead of us in terms of being back to normal, we’re proud of how the cultural community has stepped up to support each other and what we’ve accomplished so far. We started the Boston Artist Relief Fund with $53,000 available through our Opportunity Fund, and were able to provide grants to 57 artists in our first round of funding. Shortly after establishing the Artist Relief Fund, we partnered with Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) to accept donations. Since then, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture has allocated an additional $75,000 to the fund, and $111,000 in donations has been raised thanks to our partnership with the BCA. With nearly 1,000 applications already received, we’ve decided to close applications on May 15. Together, with the BCA, we’re setting a goal of $250,000 in total donations by May 31, 2020. With these donations, we hope to be able to fund as many applicants to the Artist Relief Fund as possible.
Since establishing the Boston Artist Relief Fund in the first week of March, we’ve witnessed the immense impacts of COVID-19 across Boston’s entire arts sector. We’ve heard from individual artists who have had to cancel gigs or performances that would have made up a significant portion of their income for the year. We’ve heard from small and medium-sized arts organizations who have had to cancel entire seasons of programming, and quickly find ways to bring their offerings online in a way that allows for physical distancing, yet promotes a sense of connectivity. We’ve heard from major cultural institutions facing debilitating financial setbacks after having to close their doors for months. This is a time of uncertainty, fear, and grief. But it is also a time for hope.
With our partners at the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Greater Boston and MassCreative, and in partnership with other relief funds in the Greater Boston area, we have seen significant progress in supporting artists as they manage canceled performances, lost income, and unemployment caused by COVID-19. Boston Center for the Arts created an Opportunities Page on its website, which the organization continues to update with new funding opportunities for Boston’s creative community, a virtual exhibition, and an upcoming transdisciplinary Variety Show in the weeks ahead. We’ve also heard from other cities and organizations that want to create their own funds, such as the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Cambridge, Worcester, and San Antonio.
Now, we’re working with MassCreative to ensure that the storytelling and distribution of resources related to COVID-19 is equitable. We created a survey for independent artists and creative workers that will allow us to better advocate for freelancers, gig workers, and the self-employed in our cultural communities, and make sure artists and creative workers are getting the support they need during this difficult time. Artists can take the survey online.
We appreciate the work of artists and arts organizations as we find ways to come together as a community in creative ways during this extremely difficult time. We will continue to identify new ways to support Boston’s artists and creative works into the future.