To experience this site in your native language, click below.

Para visitar este sitio web en su idioma nativo, haga clic a continuación.


Para experimentar este site em sua língua nativa, clique abaixo.

Mass Cultural Council logo
(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


Who can apply?
To apply for this grant, an applicant must be an individual artist working in any artistic discipline or 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. In both cases, the individual’s work should be independent/self-employed.

How do you define artist?
For this grant, the definition of artist includes, 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. If you have any questions about whether your work is eligible for this grant, contact us.

Am I an individual artist? Am I eligible to apply based on the work I do?
If you are trying to determine if you are meet the definition of individual artist, or of the job/gigs you lost are is eligible for the income threshold, consider the following questions:

  • Is your job/income primarily grounded in, or focused on, one or more of the following artistic disciplines? ​Dance, Music, Opera/Musical Theatre, Theatre, Visual Arts, Design Arts, Crafts, Photography, Media Arts, Literature, Folklife/Traditional Arts, Performing Arts, or Interdisciplinary Arts?
  • Is your job/income directly connected to the production and/or presentation of an artistic product related to one of the above disciplines?

If the answer to both questions is yes, then you are likely eligible and should consider applying.

I applied for the FY20 COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals (in April 2020). Am I eligible to apply in FY21?
If you applied to the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals in FY20 but did not receive a grant, you are eligible to apply in FY21. If you DID receive a grant in FY20 from either the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals or the GKV Foundation Fund for Berkshire County Theater Professionals, then you are not eligible to apply in FY21.

I was laid off as a staff member of a cultural organization, and that job was my only source of arts/cultural income. Am I eligible to apply?
Unfortunately, no. If you are a staff member who has been laid off and are eligible for state unemployment benefits, we encourage you to apply to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance.

I am a self-employed individual or contractor who has lost revenue due to COVID-19. I received/am receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance related to the Federal CARES Act funding. Can I still apply for this grant? 
Yes, if you are a self-employed or freelance artist or independent teaching artist/humanist/scientist who earned more than 25% of your income from this work in at least one tax return filed within the last three years, you are eligible to apply for Mass Cultural Council’s COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals.

The Federal CARES Act benefits do not interfere with eligibility for this grant.

What types of revenue are eligible to list as lost income as part of this application?
You can list lost revenue due to:

  • Canceled jobs/gigs, classes, performances, exhibitions, shows, residencies, etc.
  • Organizational closures or suspended operations.
  • Lost sales, commissions, vendor fees from canceled markets, events, exhibitions, etc.

If you have questions about whether certain types of revenue that qualify as an income loss, please contact us.

What if the gig/event/project/etc. I was originally hired for was not canceled per se, but is indefinitely postponed?
The situation you’re describing would fall under suspended operations, so you can include this amount as lost income when you apply.

Do I need to upload documentation (contracts, confirmation letters, etc.) of my lost revenue opportunities?
No. You will simply report your total lost income, which we will review to ensure it exceeds $1,500 for eligibility purposes. We reserve the right to ask for documentation regarding a minimum of $1,500 of specific losses, if any questions arise.

I have lost more than $1,500. May I apply to get more than one grant?
No, unfortunately you can only apply for one grant in this fiscal year (FY21).

The guidelines say the income I reported earning as an individual artist and/or as an individual teaching artist, humanist, scientist needs to represent more than 25% of my total income from all sources. Should that 25% be calculated as gross earnings before expenses or profit after expenses?
Gross before expenses.

If I meet the eligibility requirements and I apply, will I definitely receive a grant?
We anticipate receiving more applications than we have funds to award. To fairly allocate the awards throughout the Commonwealth, we are distributing the funds by region. Then, within those regions, a portion of eligible applicants will be awarded grants through a randomized selection.

What does it mean that grants will be awarded through a randomized selection?
Grants are essentially awarded in a process like a lottery. We use Excel to assign random numbers to all applications. They are reviewed in the order randomly assigned using Excel. Grants are awarded to eligible applicants until the funds are expended. The grant review does not include quality of work, duration of artistic career, artistic discipline, financial need beyond the $1,500 of lost income needed to be eligible, or any other factors. The selection is entirely based on the randomization.

Your guidelines state that grants will be awarded by region. What are those regions?
Yes, to ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by region, proportional to the region’s application demand. The regions are:

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

If I am awarded a grant, when can I expect to receive the money?
After you complete and return the contract and the other required paperwork, we expect to electronically deposit your grant within 20 to 45 days.

Is the grant taxable?
Yes. According to IRS guidelines, the grant money you receive is considered taxable income.

Will the grant affect any state or federal unemployment benefits I am receiving?
We do not know how grant payments might affect other benefits you receive, but it may.  You should reach out directly to the unemployment office for guidance prior to accepting an award if you are selected to receive a grant.

What if I have more questions?
Please read about the application process, then contact Dan Blask.

Back to Top