Relief Organizations Help Artists Affected by Covid-19

/ 27 Apr 2020

Relief Organizations Help Artists Affected by Covid-19

Editor’s Note: This resource originated with a list published by Culture Funding Watch, and we express appreciation to them for the idea. 

With public spaces like art galleries and concert halls shut down to slow the spread of Covid-19, affected artists and performers who depend on these venues for their livelihoods are facing serious financial difficulties.

A number of organizations and newly set-up relief programs are trying to help with direct grants and other emergency assistance, although some of the grants are small and almost all of the sponsoring groups are struggling to respond to all the requests they’ve received. Most are soliciting donations so they can continue offering help.

Beyond financial emergencies, artists in some countries also face threats to their personal safety and liberty as leaders use the crisis to crack down on artistic freedom. At least two international organizations are trying to assist threatened artists.

Some global and regional organizations are also trying to help journalists who are seeking to cover local aspects of the novel coronavirus pandemic but lack the financial means.

Below is a sampling of resources that are trying to help artists, performers, journalists and others in the arts and culture sector with opportunities to work or with assistance to help meet urgent needs. Please contact us in the comments section below or at [email protected] if you have a resource that you believe should be added to this list.

Assistance Specific to the Arab Region

Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform. Art Jameel created this new platform in recognition of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on independent artists, writers, curators and researchers. The platform is offering support for new or continuing projects, with allocations of up to $3,000 per artist to be distributed to up to 50 practitioners. Independent artists, writers, curators and researchers who live in the Middle East and North Africa are eligible to apply. The platform is particularly aimed at those who have experienced a significant drop in participation opportunities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The deadline for the first phase of this project has passed. Deadlines for the remaining two phases of the project are April 30 and June 7.

Tunisia Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Culture Recovery Fund (FRC). The ministry has established a Culture Recovery Fund (FRC) to support cultural organizations and professionals in two phases. The first, from now through June, aims to help artists and others through economic difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis. The second, from July onward, aims to help revive and develop the sector.

Follow Your Art (Tunisia). This nonprofit organization seeks to help artists and artisans who have experienced losses because of canceled events during the Covid-19 crisis. Its first round of distributions will award grants of 500 euros (about $540) to artists in Belgium, Italy and Tunisia. When the first round has closed, a new call will be launched in three different countries.

Algeria National Office of Copyright and Related Rights. The office has announced program of exceptional grants for artists who have been prevented from making a living due to the suspension of cultural activities that constitute their only source of livelihood.

French Institute in Morocco, Covid-19 Exceptional Call for Projects to Support the Moroccan Artistic and Cultural Scene. Urban art is the main focus of this call for projects, which aims to support a sector particularly affected by the crisis and to strengthen social cohesion by supporting artistic projects aimed toward populations whose access to culture is limited. Application deadline: May 20.

Community Relief Fund for Saudi Filmmakers. The fund aims to provide direct financial support to freelance workers in the Saudi film industry who have sustained a financial loss because of canceled activities related to Covid-19. All Saudi freelancers working in the film industry are eligible for a one-time emergency grant of up to 5,000 Saudi riyals (about $1,330). The size of the fund is 200,000 Saudi riyals. Applications will be accepted until the fund is exhausted.

The Covid-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on emerging artists (Photo: Ettijahat).
The Covid-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on emerging artists (Photo: Ettijahat).

Help for Displaced or At-Risk Artists

Artists at Risk, Covid-19 Emergency Fund. Artists at Risk has launched a new emergency fund to support artists who face threats to their freedom or their lives during the coronavirus pandemic. “Undemocratic regimes are using the crisis to repress dissent, and that includes cracking down on artistic freedom,” says Ivor Stodolsky, co-founding director of Perpetuum Mobile, the association that runs Artists at Risk. In addition, the closing of borders means some artists cannot leave their home countries to take up a safe residency offered elsewhere. The new fund will cover the living costs of artists at risk and, where necessary, relocate artists to a place of safety within their own country or region.

Institute for International Education (IIE), Artist Protection Fund. The fund is designed to respond to urgent needs by providing relief and refuge to artists on a large scale and for long periods. It makes fellowship grants to threatened artists from any field of practice and places them at host institutions in safe countries. During the Covid-19 crisis, the fund continues to closely work with and provide support to alumni of the fellowship program and host-partners.

Help for Artists Facing Financial Difficulties

Format, The Photographer Fund. Format is an online portfolio platform where self-employed photographers can show their work and promote their businesses. Its fund to help photographers affected by the Covid-19 crisis will make awards of up to $500 per person until the $25,000 fund is exhausted. Anyone in the global photography community is eligible to apply. The company says it aims to support as many people as it can in the hope that that its assistance helps independent photographers stay on their feet.

Artist Relief Tree. This fund was set up to collect donations that it can distribute in small grants of $250 to freelance artists affected by Covid-19. As of mid-April, the fund had received over 3,500 requests for assistance from artists around the world, representing opera, theater, music, dance, the visual arts, and more. It now has a waitlist of over 12,000 applicants and is not accepting new requests until it can secure more funding. The organizers acknowledge that $250 cannot replace artists’ lost income, but they offer the grants “to provide hope, make a small difference, and show solidarity with colleagues and friends.”

Artist + Activist Relief Fund. This fund, created by the Soze Foundation and the organizations TaskForce and Invisible Hand, supports artists and activists whose work has been disrupted by Covid-19. The fund has distributed $150,000 in grants to over 500 people so far and is now raising money in hopes of supporting more applicants. Artist-activists can join a waiting list now for future funds. Initially, the fund has made grants only to artists based in the United States but is exploring ways to extend its support to artists elsewhere.

Artist Relief Project. This project provides one-time emergency relief grants in the amount of $200 to artists in any discipline whose anticipated income has been directly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. The organization currently has a waiting list for assistance, which is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. It is accepting donations in hopes of helping as many artists in need as possible.

Grants for Covid-19 Related Journalism

National Geographic Society, Covid-19 Emergency Fund for Journalists. The National Geographic Society has launched an emergency fund to support writers, photographers, cartographers, filmmakers and other journalists all over the world who wish to cover Covid-19 within their own communities. This fund will place particular emphasis on delivering news to underserved populations, particularly where there is a dearth of evidence-based information getting to those who need it. Support grants will range from $1,000 to $8,000.

Africa-China Reporting Project, Public Health Reporting Grants 2020. The Africa-China Reporting Project, based at the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is inviting journalists to submit proposals for grants of up to $1,500 for investigations focused on public health and related issues in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Applications are open to all journalists who present Africa-focused proposals. The deadline to apply is April 30, 2020.

Google, Journalism Emergency Relief Fund. Google launched this global relief fund through the Google News Initiative to support small and medium-sized news organizations producing original news for local communities in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fund is targeted toward  newsrooms employing between 2 and 100 full-time-equivalent journalist employees. Applicants must have a digital presence and have been in operation for at least 12 months. The deadline for submitting applications is April 29.

International Women’s Media Foundation, Journalism Relief Fund. The foundation anticipates a great need for support within its global network of women-identifying journalists, especially among freelancers who have lost work because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The relief fund will provide grants of up to $2,000 per request. The application is available in English, Spanish, Chinese and French. Because of volume of requests, the fund does not expect to be able to meet every request but will continue to review applications until funds are depleted.




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  1. Hello there,
    I am a lebanese singer, i perform in arabic, my artist name is Jad Rafic, and as all artists i got affected by the COVID-19 virus.
    No more concerts, we had a trip to bahrain as artists on Ramadan and of course it got cancelled, and till now we have no work, no concerts, no parties… nothing!

    So please i would like to be added to the list for help.
    These are my facebook page and my instagram account

    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jrafic/
    Instagram account: https://instagram.com/jadrafic?r=nametag

    Thank you,


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