On April 29, 2020, a group of Arizona arts funders and service organizations announced they will provide $171,830 in emergency relief grants of up to $750 to 235 artists and arts professionals across the state.
One effort in a slate of crisis response strategies launched last month, the Emergency Relief Fund for Arizona Artists and Arts Professionals was established as a collaborative fund to support artists and creatives experiencing cancelled events and terminated contracts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund was initially seeded with $130,000 from the Arizona Community Foundation, $15,000 from partners including Artlink Inc. and the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, and $25,000 from the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona in support of southern Arizona artists. The application process was managed by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona.
Open to residents of Arizona whose primary source of income is in artistic production, teaching artist residencies, cultural events, or contract work with nonprofit arts organizations, the online application opened on Saturday, April 4, 2020, and closed later that same day due to the high volume of submissions.
“We received 520 applications in the first 8 hours the application was live. In the days since, an additional 500 individuals signed up to be notified in the event the fund re-opens,” said Jaime Dempsey, Executive Director for the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “This group of Arizonans documented a minimum of $1.5 million in cancelled contracts from March to June alone. The true income loss is likely 5-10 times greater, given the fact that applicants were only asked to substantiate immediate lost income up to $1,500. The job loss is simply staggering.”
Dempsey added, “These are Arizonans whose work is centered in innovation, who preserve cherished cultural traditions, who lead curriculum-supportive arts residencies in schools, and a thousand other things. Grants of this size won’t cover the full scope of their lost income, but we hope the funds provide some small measure of relief, because artists’ skills are important to all of us. In calm and in crisis, creative workers are critical contributors to our civic and economic life, to lifelong learning and community wellbeing.”
The 235 relief grants announced today represent 45% of the initial applicant pool. First-round recipients hail from cities and towns across Arizona, with 25% from rural/remote communities and 75% from urban metros. 46% of recipients identify as individuals of color. Recipients range in age from 18 to 75+, and collectively they specialize in dozens of creative disciplines.
After being considered in accordance with the stated commitments for the fund, applications were entered into a process for randomized selection. Value and need are accepted as fundamental conditions for this program; applications are not ranked according to subjective merit or persuasiveness.
“We came together as partners on this fund because we believe in Arizona’s artists and creatives. Their skills are essential in this moment, and their unique capacities—to uplift, connect, invent, and inspire—will be vital as we navigate a future recovery,” said Jacky Alling, Chief Philanthropy Officer at the Arizona Community Foundation. “We are honored to support artists now and remain committed to working alongside them beyond this crisis, to explore new ideas and advance community good.”
Partners on the Emergency Relief Fund for Arizona Artists and Arts Professionals are still actively fundraising to support applicants who were not awarded relief grants in the first round. Individuals and organizations are invited to join in the effort and contribute to the fund at https://azarts.gov/grant/emergency-relief-fund/.
[Note to media: Emergency Relief Fund for Arizona Artists and Arts Professionals are awarded to individuals experiencing financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus we have made a commitment not to share personal information of applicants or recipients. Funding partners can provide aggregated data for the program and can ask individual recipients if they are willing to be interviewed if that is of interest.]
About the Arizona Commission on the Arts
One of 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is a 54-year-old agency of the State of Arizona and a leading force in the creative and professional development of Arizona’s arts sector. Through robust programs, research initiatives, and strategic grantmaking, the Arts Commission catalyzes arts-based partnerships that strengthen Arizona communities through the arts. More information can be found at azarts.gov.
About the Arizona Community Foundation
Established in 1978, the Arizona Community Foundation is a statewide family of charitable funds supported by thousands of Arizonans. With five regional offices serving communities across Arizona, ACF is among the top 25 community foundations in the nation with more than $960 million in trust and endowment assets, and is certified under the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. Since inception, ACF and its affiliates have awarded more than $783 million in grants, scholarships, and loans to nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies. More information is available at azfoundation.org.
About Artlink Inc.
Artlink keeps the arts integral to our development by connecting artists, business and community. Founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by artists in 1989, the Artlink name is a guiding principle for the organization as it supports the stakeholders of the arts and culture community, amplifying its collective strength. Visit artlinkphx.org.
About the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona
The Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and funding agency. We consist of staff, a board of directors, and community members who serve on grant panels and committees and are passionate about the arts. The Arts Foundation provides arts and cultural development services through direct funding, technical assistance and professional development opportunities, and manages the creation of public art for the City of Tucson and Pima County. Visit artsfoundtucson.org.
About the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture was established to champion the City’s arts and culture community to make Phoenix a great place to live, work, and visit. POAC invests grants to nonprofit arts organizations to ensure cultural services and opportunities are accessible to Phoenix residents of all ages; manages an award-winning public art program that works in neighborhoods with local, national, and international artists to create a more vibrant city; and promotes and professional development opportunities for youth, artists, and administrators to help sustain a healthy cultural sector. Visit phoenix.gov/arts for more information.