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Nearly $1.2M Awarded through COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals

Dan Blask, Program Officer

close up of an artist holding an exacto knife, cutting paper in the foreground, a pile of cut-out paper in the background
Elizabeth Alexander (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’11) at work in her studio.

Yesterday Mass Cultural Council awarded $1,171,500 through the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals, making $1,500 grants to 781 individual artists and individual teaching artists, humanists, and scientists across Massachusetts whose creative practices and incomes have been impacted by COVID-19 related cancellations and closures.

This is the second round of funding from this program since the onset of the pandemic. In April 2020, Mass Cultural Council awarded over $300,000 to individuals working in the cultural sector. Once this week’s grants are distributed, the Agency will have awarded almost $1.5 million in direct relief funding to 1,053 artists and teaching artists/humanists/scientists.

Mass Cultural Council originally expected to award closer to 450 grants during this FY21 grant round. But we were able to reallocate funds in recognition of the urgent circumstances of individuals in the cultural sector amidst the pandemic. Those circumstances have continued to intensify since we last reported on the pandemic’s impact on creative individuals.

Financial Impacts on Individual Artists and Teaching Artists/Humanists/Scientists

Massachusetts’ creative individuals are facing dramatic financial losses. Since March 2020, a total of 2,951 artists and teaching artists/humanists/scientists who live and work in every region of the state have reported to Mass Cultural Council over $30 million ($30,403,616) in lost personal income and 67,986 cancelled gigs/jobs due to COVID-19.

graphic showing the decrease in total lost income reported by 2,951 creative individuals in MA from March 2020-February 2021. The line moves down from $3M loss in Mar 2020 to $17M loss in April 2020 to $20M loss in Oct 2020 to $30M loss in Feb 2021

On average, those individual artists or teaching artists/humanists/scientists in Massachusetts have each lost $10,303 in personal income and 23 cancelled jobs/gigs in the last year. Every part of the state has been negatively affected.

Region # of Individuals Reporting Total Lost Income Total Lost Gigs/Jobs
Greater Boston 1,134 $12,709,292 24,177
Central 252 $2,307,415 6,862
Metrowest 163 $1,620,553 3,845
Northeast 326 $3,473,184 6,881
Southeast 518 $5,391,489 14,593
Western 558 $4,901,683 11,628
Total 2,951 $30,403,616 67,986

The scale of these impacts is both staggering and humbling. Mass Cultural Council will continue to prioritize support of artists and teaching artists/humanists/scientists through funding and services. We encourage creative individuals to visit ArtSake and to sign up for the Artist News e-newsletter, to learn about other ways Mass Cultural Council supports individuals.

Part of supporting the cultural sector is telling a clear story. 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.

Mass Cultural Council believes in the power of culture. We recognize that the work creative individuals do every day makes the Commonwealth a more vibrant, healthier, and more exciting place. We remain committed to supporting the cultural sector through resources, assistance, guidance, and programming. With a creative spirit, we will get through this pandemic together.

COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals Funding List

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