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Apply to the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals

Dan Blask, Program Officer

Latin Logic Salsa Band performing at Mass Cultural Council folk arts showcase in 2018. Photo: Matthew Muise.

Mass Cultural Council believes in the power of culture, and we recognize that the work done by creative and innovative individuals is key to our vital communities. We know that the COVID-19 crisis has caused major disruptions for the careers of individuals who earn income through their work in the cultural sector. In response, Mass Cultural Council launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals in April of 2020, which repurposed existing FY20 monies to grant 272 $1,000 awards to impacted cultural practitioners.

In November 2020 Mass Cultural Council released new COVID economic impact data which found that Massachusetts’ creative individuals were dealing with dramatic financial loss from the pandemic. A total of 2,423 artists, teaching artists, and scientist/humanists from every region of the state reported more than $20M in lost personal income ($20,138,858) and 39,693 cancelled gigs/jobs since March. To attempt to mitigate this financial strain Mass Cultural Council is launching a second round of  COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals grants.

The purpose of the COVID-19 Relief Fund is to support individuals whose creative practices and incomes are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Grants of $1,500 are available to Massachusetts individual artists and independent teaching artists/humanists/scientists who have lost income derived from their work as a direct result of COVID-19 related cancellations and closures. Because we anticipate grant requests exceeding the program’s budget, grants will be distributed through a randomized, lottery-style process.

The application deadline is February 2, 2021 at 11:59pm (ET). Grants will be awarded by geographic region proportional to that region’s application demand. The individual grantees in each region will be randomly selected. Grants will be unrestricted.


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

  • 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.


  • 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 six of the following requirements:

  1. You are 18 years or older.
  2. 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. Mass Department of Revenue web site to learn more.
  3. 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.
  4. The income you reported earning as an individual artist and/or as an individual teaching artist, humanist, scientist in at least one tax return within the last three years represented more than 25% of your total income from all sources.
  5. You can demonstrate at least $1,500 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.
  1. You did not receive a grant from the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals in FY20.

Expected Timeline

January 12: Application opens at 10am (ET)
January 21: Online information session at 4pm (ET)
February 2: Deadline to apply
February 10: Awards finalized; email notifications sent
March: Contracts sent out

Mass Cultural Council expects to award approximately 460 $1,500 grants in FY21. We are proud to have awarded more than 300 $1,000 awards through this program in Spring of 2020.

If you have questions about eligibility, the application timeline, or any aspect of the program, please contact Dan Blask.

Thank you for your continuing work making Massachusetts a more creative and vibrant place.

Apply Now

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