IN NEED OF RELIEF: The financial destruction from the pandemic reaches far and wide, and artists are about to get a lifeline, thanks to an effort led by a coalition of art funders called the Artist Relief Fund.
After 10 days of fundraising, a group of seven art funds have drummed up $5 million that will be distributed directly to artists — including fashion designers — via unrestricted $5,000 grants. Over the weekend, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation offered a matching grant of $5 million.
The Artist Relief Fund initiative goes live today. Professional artists who live in the U.S. and can show financial need are invited to apply.
Artist Relief consists of the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, the National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists. Additional contributions are also being sought from organizations and individuals.
With museums and galleries around the world temporarily shuttered for the foreseeable future, many artists, especially those based in major metropolitan cities, are scraping to get by. The average annual salary for fine artists including painters, sculptors and illustrators is $58,370, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite the financial strains that some may artists be facing, many are using innovative ways to reach their audiences at home. Just as institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum are offering virtual tours and at-home activities, the Paris Opera and Ballet and other groups are streaming free performances. New York City Ballet’s principal dancer Tiler Peck is offering daily online ballet classes and British designer Tom Dixon has launched the #TOMorrowChannel. More amateur tutorials can be found via Skype and FaceTime.
However enticing art is as a medium, it is also an industry in its own right. U.S. museums employ 350,000 people directly and generate $50 billion in revenue including in stimulus to surrounding businesses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Struggling artists can find a list of advocacy and informational resources on the site, and participate in a data-driven survey to help track the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the artist community.