A coalition of national arts grantmakers has launched Artist Relief, a program to provide rapid, unrestricted $5,000 relief grants to assist artists facing dire financial emergencies due to the impact of COVID-19 and to serve as an informational resource. The coalition is also co-launching the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by research partner Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists moving forward.

The coalition includes Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation and United States Artists.

Grant applications are open now at artistrelief.org.

The fund launched with $10 million, consisting of $5 million in seed funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation matched with $5 million in initial contributions from an array of foundations across the United States. Organizers will continue to fundraise beyond the launch of the grant program to assist with the rapidly escalating needs.

Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and herself a poet and memoirist, said, “In hard times like these, we turn to the arts to illuminate and help us make meaning and find connection. Without immediate intervention, individual artists and the arts ecosystem of which they are the foundation could sustain irreparable damage.

“As artists confront these new fiscal realities, we are proud to support this vital effort to address artists’ urgent needs,” she continued. “We call on others to join us in supporting artists so they may continue to be our lights, chroniclers, and connectors throughout this crisis and beyond.”

According to Artists and Other Cultural Workers: A Statistical Portrait, a study published in 2019 by the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, there are 2.5 million working artists in the United States. To meet the needs of as many of those artists as possible, Artist Relief is accepting donations at artistrelief.org. Donations are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of donations will be applied directly to aid.

The fund will operate through the next six months, as organizers monitor the impact of the pandemic. Practicing artists living in all 50 states, territories, and Tribal Nations, working in any discipline, are eligible to apply for the $5,000 grant. Applicants must be 21 or older, able to receive taxable income in the United States regardless of their citizenship status and have lived and worked primarily in the United States over the last two years.

Due to expected demand, Artist Relief recognizes it will not be able to fund every applicant. Artists demonstrating the most severe financial needs will be prioritized, with an emphasis on funding widely across disciplines and geographies.

Applications will be reviewed and assessed for eligibility and need in collaboration with cultural nonprofits across the country, who will assist in the determination and selection process.

Artist Relief is an emergency initiative, relying on the support of a growing number of foundations and individual donors, and will continue to evolve as the needs of the country’s artists shift over the coming months.

Artist Relief will also administer the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, developed by Americans for the Arts, to collect information that will be useful to the field in better understanding artists’ needs in both the immediate and longer terms. Additionally, coalition member Creative Capital will maintain a publicly available database of resources to support the professional, social, and mental wellbeing of artists.


Academy of American Poets — The Academy of American Poets is a national membership-based organization that supports American poets at all stages of their careers and fosters the appreciation of contemporary poetry.

Artadia — Artadia is a national non-profit organization that identifies innovative visual artists and supports them with unrestricted financial awards and connections to a network of opportunities.

Creative Capital — Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel, gatherings, and career development services.

Foundation for Contemporary Arts — Founded in 1963 by John Cage and Jasper Johns, and still led by artists, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) encourages, sponsors, and promotes innovative work in the arts made by individuals working in dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts.

MAP Fund — The MAP Fund invests in artistic production in live performance, as the critical foundation of imagining, and ultimately co-creating, a more equitable and vibrant society.

United States Artists — United States Artists is an independent nonprofit and nongovernmental philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting artists and cultural practitioners—in all disciplines and across the country—with unrestricted awards.

National YoungArts Foundation — National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

— Tammye Nash