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Home / Blog / Artists & Art / Mass Cultural Council Awards $272,000 from COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals

Mass Cultural Council Awards $272,000 from COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals

Bethann Steiner, Communications Director

Massachusetts Individual Artists and Teaching Artists, Humanists, Scientists Report $16.5M in Lost Personal Income Linked to COVID-19

Haeckel’s Garden by Mary O’Malley (Drawing & Printmaking Fellow ’06, Finalist ’14, ’10). Metallic ink on paper, 32″ x 40″.

On Monday Mass Cultural Council awarded $1,000 grants from our COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals to 272 individual artists and individual teaching artists, humanists, and scientists whose creative practices and incomes have been impacted by COVID-19 related cancellations and closures. A total of $272,000 was awarded to creative professionals statewide.

We received more than 1,800 applications to the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals. As stated in the program guidelines, we allocated grants to six different regions in Massachusetts and made grant selections through a randomized selection. Our original expectation was to fund a total of 225 awards by redirecting existing Agency funds. However, due to the support and generosity of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), who donated $47,000 to the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals, we were able to make a total of 272 grants.

Mass Cultural Council had enough resources to fund 14% of the applications received from each of the six regions:

 Region  Applications  Demand  Grants
 Greater Boston  642  34.29%  93
 Central  168  8.97%  24
 Metrowest  104  5.56%  15
 Northeast  213  11.38%  31
 Southeast  355  18.96%  52
 Western  390  20.83%  57
 TOTAL  1,872  100.00%  272

Unfortunately, limited resources mean that more than 1,600 applicants to the Fund did not receive an award. Mass Cultural Council is actively seeking and accepting funding from other sources to support this program. If additional resources become available, Mass Cultural Council will use the randomized selection process on the existing unfunded applications to make additional awards.

Six weeks ago, from March 16-22, Mass Cultural Council polled the Commonwealth’s cultural sector to begin to understand the economic impact of COVID-19 on the individuals and nonprofits we serve. In just under a week we heard from 595 individual artists and independent teaching artists, humanists, and scientists. The results were striking: a total of $2.89M in lost personal income was reported, and 5,047 paying jobs/gigs had been cancelled.

Today Mass Cultural Council can update that data with information from the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals applications. As of April 22, we have collected data from a total of 2,345 individual artists and individual teaching artists, humanists and scientists. These creative professionals report devastating economic impacts directly linked to COVID-19:

  • A total loss of $16,527,749 in personal income – Average loss of $7,048 per person
  • 38,219 lost jobs/gigs reported – Average number of jobs lost per person is 16

These are not projections, but actual income figures and employment opportunities lost by Massachusetts artists and teaching artists, humanists, and scientists during this pandemic.

It will take time and support from federal, state, and local government to rebuild from this crisis. Mass Cultural Council and our advocacy partners including MASSCreative and Mass Humanities will continue to collect data periodically from the cultural sector and share it with policymakers on your behalf.

Individual artists and teaching artists, humanists, scientists seeking assistance are encouraged to visit ArtSake and Mass Cultural Council’s COVID-19 Resources page to learn about other coronavirus-related programs. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and freelancers is also available.

Mass Cultural Council believes in the power of culture, and we know that the core of a vibrant, healthy society resides in the often-unheralded work creative individuals perform daily. We greatly value the contributions creative individuals make to the cultural vitality of our communities. It will take collective action to make Massachusetts’ cultural sector financially whole after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. We are committed to providing guidance, assistance, resources, and programming to help our stakeholders rebuild and regain stability, so they can begin to thrive once again.

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