HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - With the closure of performing venues, arts galleries and festivals, artists who typically make the majority of their income from their work are facing difficult economic challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. To help offset some of the economic impact, Arts Huntsville today announced the establishment of an Individual Artist Emergency Relief Grant Fund that can provide visual and performing artists in Madison County with grants of $250 to $500 to cover immediate expenses.
The Arts Huntsville board of directors voted to seed the fund with $25,000 from the organization’s reserve funds to help support the local arts community affected by the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to the $25,000 in Arts Huntsville funds, the organization is also seeking additional donations from the community to support the fund. One hundred percent of community contributions will be disbursed for Relief Fund grants.
“Individual artists – musicians, visual artists, dancers and more – can be overlooked as businesses are temporarily closed. Without public interaction at their studios, galleries and performances venues (including restaurants), our local artists have lost their livelihood,” said Allison Dillon-Jauken, Arts Huntsville Executive Director. “These are the very individuals who entertain and inspire us each week across our community and they need help to get through this crisis.”
Arts Huntsville staff followed models recently established by local arts agencies in cities such as Indianapolis, Columbus and others around the country to establish the grant fund to help artists pay for food, medicine and rent. To be eligible for a grant, artists must have resided in Madison County for three or more years, be a self-employed artist in any discipline and make more than 50 percent of their income as a professional artist.
Applicants will also need to demonstrate an estimated loss of income, the cancellations of bookings and shows scheduled prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and previous weekly/monthly arts income.
The move to support the local arts community comes at a challenging time for Arts Huntsville, which recently announced the cancellation of this year’s Panoply Art Festival due to the COVID-19 outbreak. While Panoply is one of Arts Huntsville’s major annual programs and not a fundraiser for the organization, the revenue from the festival does fund staff positions associated with the event. With a projected budget shortfall for the year, Arts Huntsville is postponing filling open staff positions at this time.
“During this period of social distancing, people are turning to music, movies, books and art to lessen stress and anxiety, which demonstrates the importance the arts play in each of our lives,” Dillon-Jauken added. “While Arts Huntsville is facing its own financial challenges currently, it is critically important to support our local artists during this crisis. We hope others will join us in this relief effort.”
Details on Individual Artist Emergency Relief Grant Fund – including access to the online grant application and donation portal – can be found at www.artshuntsville.org.