Artists Relief, a funding initiative created to assist artists struggling under the pandemic, has distributed more than $13.5 million in emergency grants to more than 2,700 individuals since it was launched in April.

In response to demand, Artist Relief will extend grant distribution through the end of the year. The fund has raised nearly $20 million since its launch, and has received funding from a wide range of partners, including Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Poetry Foundation, and other institutional partners. In addition, Artist Relief has raised nearly a $1 million in donations from individuals.

Artist Relief has distributed unrestricted grants of $5,000 to artists at the rate of about 100 per week. The fund has received more than 130,000 applications for assistance from a wide variety of artists from across the creative disciplines, including writing, film, music, theater and performance, and visual art. Due to the demand, applicants facing the most dire circumstances, such as the need for food or medical care, have received priority for grants. The selection process has been structured to address the problems of access faced by disabled artists, people of color, and low income communities.

Artist Relief was launched in April by a multi-disciplinary coalition of seven artist organizations, among them, the Academy of American Poets, Creative Capital, and Artadia. In addition to the distribution of grants, AR has launched the Covid-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, to better understand the full impact of the pandemic on the artist community.

Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets, said “it has become clear that there is no real safety net for artists. As institutions reopen, they do so without their education departments, positions once filled by artists. Musicians have seen their gigs vanish, and poets and writers who lack health care find themselves more vulnerable than ever before.” Benka continued, “as fall begins, swaths of creative practitioners nationwide might lose their adjunct positions. It is imperative that we continue this fund to provide this bridge of relief for as many artists as we can.”