CERF+ Launches 3rd Cycle of COVID-19 Relief Grants for Artists
After raising over half a million dollars in COVID-19 emergency grants to fund 592 artists across the U.S. last year, CERF+ — The Artists Safety Net – a Vermont-based nonprofit that provides valuable help to craft artists in the form of training, advocacy, and financial relief – is pleased to announce a third round of its COVID-19 Relief Grant program. This initiative will provide $1,000 grants to artists working in craft disciplines who are facing dire circumstances such as food, housing, and medical insecurities as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
Almost a year into the global pandemic, the catastrophic human and economic toll is clear; COVID-19 has caused over 22 million infections and more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. alone and forced thousands of businesses to close their doors permanently. The events of 2020 have been especially devastating to artists, with 95% of creative workers reporting a significant loss of income in the early days of the pandemic.
“Many artists in this country – especially those who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color – are self-employed, living on low or episodic income,” says Cornelia Carey, executive director of CERF+. “It’s a highly vulnerable segment of the economy. They never could have foreseen or prepared for such a devastating loss of income, and our goal is to help ease some of this financial strain so they can get back on their feet – back to creating.”
This news comes after a record-breaking year for CERF+. Between the ongoing Craft Emergency Relief Fund and two cycles of COVID-19 Relief Grants, the nonprofit provided over $1.2 million to more than 700 artists across the country in 2020.
“Thanks to the continued support of our generous donors, CERF+ is able to launch a third round of relief to help artists in need. We’ll continue to do so as support for these efforts persists,” notes Carey.
The first two rounds of CERF+’s COVID-19 Relief Grants – which were timed with the conclusion of unemployment supplements provided through the CARES Act – garnered over 3,000 applications in 2020 and proved to be a critical resource for many who were struggling to make ends meet, allowing artists to pay their bills and purchase necessary tools and equipment for their work.
“I truly appreciate CERF+. The pandemic hurt me financially, but the COVID-19 Relief Grant I received allowed me to continue to work and pay my bills. The emergency assistance made a real difference in these hard times,” explains Demond Melancon, a bead artist and Big Chief of the Young Seminole Black Masking Tribe in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“The CERF+ COVID-19 Relief Grant was a godsend. Thanks to the grant, I was able to catch up on my gas and electric bills, get wood and manure for my pottery, and buy things I needed for my two grandkids that I’m raising,” says Judy Tafoya, a 6th generation Tewa Tribe potter from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico.
Applications for the third round of CERF+’s COVID-19 Relief Grant program will remain open from January 13 to February 3, 2021. Priority will be given to folk and traditional artists, as well as those who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. More information can be found at cerfplus.org/cerf-covid-19-relief-grant/.
Since 1985, CERF+ has assisted hundreds of professional artists working in craft disciplines with emergency financial assistance, as well as resources and educational programs for any studio-based artist designed to strengthen and sustain their careers. CERF+ has endeavored to assure the well-being and success of individual artists, but also, through research and advocacy, to advance the needs and status of the craft field. CERF+ is a respected leader in the arts sector, advocating for improving the overall safety net for artists before, during, and after disasters. https://cerfplus.org/