New York artists in need can apply for $1,000 a month
The offers promise to appeal to struggling artists. One would provide $1,000 a month for 18 months, with no strings attached, to facilitate time spent on creative work. The other is for a $65,000 a year job with a community organization or municipality.
Artists who live in New York state and can demonstrate financial need are invited to apply for either starting Monday under a new $125 million initiative called Creatives Rebuild New. York, supported by several major foundations.
The new initiative – which will provide monthly stipends to 2,400 New York artists and jobs to 300 others – is the latest in a series of efforts across the country to give artists a guaranteed income. Programs are already underway in San Francisco, St. Paul, Minnesota, and elsewhere. The idea gained support during the pandemic, when live shows came to a halt, galleries were closed, art fairs were canceled and many art and music classes were halted, leaving artists suffer some of the worst job losses in the country.
“There are guaranteed income programs that have been started across the country, many of which are pilot projects to figure out if this work has worked,” Sarah Calderon, the program’s executive director, said in an interview. “Creatives Rebuild New York has seen this data and truly believes it works.”
The intention, Calderon said, is not just to generate a guaranteed income for artists, but to ensure that any broader guaranteed income program considered takes into account the needs of artists as well as the importance and the value of their work.
The program is supported by $115 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, $5 million from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and $5 million from the Ford Foundation. Program funds are overseen by the Tides Center.
Who can apply? The program definition of an artist is quite broad, describing them as “someone who regularly engages in an artistic or cultural practice” to express themselves, pass on traditional knowledge, offer cultural resources to their communities, or work with communities to social impacts. Disciplines that fall within its definition include craft, dance, design, film, literary arts, media arts, music, oral tradition, social practice, theatre, performing arts, traditional arts, visual arts and interdisciplinary arts.
Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, said the idea stemmed from her work on a state panel, the Reimagine New York Commission, which brought together people from a wide range of fields to examine how the state should rebuild after the pandemic and become more equitable.
“As we continue to envision and work for our post-pandemic reality,” she said in a statement, “it is essential that we do not neglect the working artists whose work is an essential part of our economy. and whose continued work sustains us”.
Emil J. Kang, who directs the Mellon Foundation for Arts and Culture program, noted that many artists have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. With these programs, he says, I hope they can devote more time to their art.
“We really need to value the hours and the work that artists have put into their work that goes beyond what we see on these stages and on the gallery walls,” Kang said in an interview. “We have to understand that there’s work that goes into all of these things that the public ultimately sees.”
The program, which will accept applications until March 25, will try to reach communities that are historically underserved by philanthropy. The application process will include accommodations for non-English speakers, people with disabilities and those without internet access.
“It’s not just about the pandemic,” said Calderon, who added that the goal was to find new and better ways to support artists.
“Often the funding is merit-based, the funding often involves rather cumbersome processes to get the funds,” she said. “And often there isn’t enough for everyone.”