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(l-r)Vasileios Kostas, James Dale, and George Lernis performing at Crossing Customs: Immigrant Masters of Music & Dance. Photo by Matthew Muise.

COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals

Application Process

Events of all types have been cancelled across Massachusetts to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, individuals who earn income partially or entirely through their work within the cultural sector are losing critical opportunities to support their well-being in the Commonwealth.

In response, Mass Cultural Council established the COVID-19 Relief Fund to support individual artists and independent teaching artists/humanists/scientists living in Massachusetts whose creative practices and incomes are adversely impacted by COVID-19. New England Foundation for the Arts is partnering with us to support individuals.

Through Mass Cultural Council’s COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals, grants of $1,000 are available to individuals who are independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers, and self-employed or sole proprietors who have lost income derived from their work as individual artists and independent teaching artists/humanists/scientists as a direct result of COVID-19 related cancellations and closures in Massachusetts.​

How to Apply

  1. Read the program guidelines (below) and FAQs. Preview a sample application (PDF).

  2. Create a username and password to complete your individual profile (Please note: Usernames/Passwords previously created in Mass Cultural Council’s online application system to apply for Artist Fellowships and META Fellowships can be used.)

  3. Complete the online application beginning at 10am (ET) on April 8, 2020. Submit it before the application deadline on April 22, 2020, at 11:59pm (ET).


Program Guidelines


You may apply for Mass Cultural Council COVID-19 Relief funding if you are:

  1. An individual artist working in any artistic discipline. Artist here is defined broadly to include, but is not limited to artists such as musicians, theater artists (including those that work on sound, lighting, and costume design), photographers, puppeteers, crafts artists, painters, poets and authors, vocalists, folk and traditional artists, dancers, etc.


  1. An individual teaching artist, humanist, or scientist who promotes education in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences to people of any age, who typically works in schools or other educational settings.

AND you meet all five of the following requirements:

  • You are 18 years or older.
  • You are a legal resident of Massachusetts. We define “legal resident” as someone who meets the definition of a “full-year resident” in the Massachusetts tax code. Visit the Mass Department of Revenue web site to learn more.
  • You have reported taxable income related to earnings working as an individual artist and/or as an individual teaching artist, humanist, scientist in your most recent tax return.
  • The income you reported earning as an individual artist and/or as an individual teaching artist, humanist, scientist in your most recent tax return represented more than 25% of your total income from all sources.
  • You can demonstrate at least $1,000 of lost income directly related to COVID-19 that is not eligible to be recouped through Massachusetts unemployment benefits. This could include lost revenue due to:
    • Canceled jobs/gigs, classes, performances, exhibitions, shows, residencies, etc.
    • Organizational closures and/or suspended operations
    • Lost sales, commissions, vendor fees from cancelled markets, events, exhibitions, etc.Federal CARES Act unemployment benefits do not affect eligibility to this program.

    Applicants may submit one application and may receive no more than one grant during this FY20 grant opportunity


Use of Funds 

The use of grant funds is unrestricted. The grant is meant to recoup financial losses demonstrated in the application.


Grant Awards, Distribution, and Review

The Mass Cultural Council will award at least 225 $1,000 grants. If outside funding available becomes available, we will increase the number of grants awarded. (On April 14, 2020, New England Foundation for the Arts announced a contribution of $47,000 to the COVID-19 Relief Fund).

To ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by region in proportion to the region’s application demand. The regions are as follows:

  • Greater Boston
  • Central
  • Metrowest
  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Western

For example, if applications from the Southeast region make up 15% of the total applications received, the Southeast region will be allocated roughly 15% of the grants made.

Within each region, awards will be made to eligible applicants using a randomized selection process.


Grant Payment

In order to receive the funds awarded through this program, grantees must complete the following documentation, and print, sign, and return originals by mail to Mass Cultural Council:

  • One-page State Contract
  • Electronic Funds Transfer Form
  • W-9

All the necessary documents will be emailed directly to grantees to complete. Grantees who do not have a bank account that the funds can be transferred to, can notify the Contract Officer at the time of award notification in order to request a mailed check.

Please be aware, grants may be considered taxable income and individuals should seek guidance from their tax professionals/accountants about tax and reporting requirements.

Electronic deposits will be made to the grantee’s account (or a check will be mailed) 20 – 45 days after the grantee returns their contract. Mass Cultural Council will make every effort to expedite payments as quickly as possible.



Grantees do not have any formal reporting requirements. To continue our advocacy efforts, we will send optional surveys to grantees over time to help tell the story of impact that COVID-19 has had on the cultural sector.



April 7: Council votes to approve program

April 8: Guidelines posted and application opens

April 15: Staff review regional distribution of applications and do additional outreach if necessary

April 22: Deadline to apply

April 27: Awards finalized; email notifications sent

May 4: Contracts sent out

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