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COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals

Dan Blask, Program Officer


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 coronavirus (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 has launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals. (On April 14, 2020, New England Foundation for the Arts announced a contribution of $47,000 to this Fund).

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 $1,000 will be 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.

Program guidelines and online application are now available. The application deadline is April 22, 2020 at 11:59pm. 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 five 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 your most recent tax return represented more than 25% of your total income from all sources.
  5. 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.

Expected Timeline

April 7: Council votes to approve program
April 8: Guidelines published; Application opens at 10am (ET)
April 22: Deadline to apply
April 27: Awards finalized; email notifications sent
May 4: Contracts sent out

Mass Cultural Council expects to award 225 $1,000 grants. Mass Cultural Council is funding this program by adjusting spending in several grant programs as well as reallocating resources from events and initiatives. (And with New England Foundation for the Arts’ support, an additional 47 grants will be available.)

If you have questions about eligibility, the application timeline, or any aspect of the program, please contact us. Questions from individual artists should be directed to Dan Blask. Questions from independent teaching artists/humanists/scientists should be directed to Diane Daily.

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

Apply Now

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