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MusiCares chairman Steve Boom
MusiCares chairman Steve Boom
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Here's How and Where Creatives Can Apply for Relief Funds

The performing arts are one of the many sectors suffering a heavy blow from the COVID-19 outbreak and the preventive measures taken to slow its spread. As creatives find themselves unceremoniously out of work, with nothing — say, a service industry gig — to fall back on, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Several organizations have extended a helping hand during this time, offering grants and emergency funds to help people get by during the crisis.

However, with countless numbers of people seeking financial aid, many of the funds that had been accepting applicants have been overwhelmed.

Combing the web for grants still open or applicable to Florida residents who are working but nonunionized artists can compound the already grim state of things. As many artists already know, applying for funds is a time-consuming and frustrating endeavor where you won't find important clauses like "must be a Washington State resident" until the third page of an application.

So, New Times has done its best to do the leg work for you.

Here are some organizations still offering emergency aid, how you can apply, and how long you can expect it to take. This is a working list and will be added to and amended as circumstances change.

The Actors Fund

For the Actors Fund Emergency Financial Assistance, you must demonstrate you've recently worked in the entertainment industry (including production) for a minimum of five years with earnings of at least $6,500 for three of the last five years, or had 20 years of industry employment with a minimum of ten years earning $5,000 annually. Artists have to show their current financial need for aid, such as an inability to pay next month's rent.

How to apply: Head to the organization's website, where you'll find a checklist of required documents. These include proof of industry earnings, such as contracts, pay stubs, W-2 and 1099 forms. You will also need recent bank statements and a copy of your current lease agreement. Make sure to create a single electronic file for each of these categories, as you will be asked to upload them individually. If you don't have access to a scanner, use a free app like Genius Scan for Androids or Evernote Scannable for iPhones. The application itself consists of about 45 fields and covers everything from personal information to reasons for assistance. For nonmembers of the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television, make sure to check the Actors Fund dropdown option only.

Expected time to apply: Approximately 45 minutes.

  Artist Relief Tree

Suspended until more funding can be secured

Due to an overwhelming number of funding requests, the Artist Relief Tree is not accepting more applications until additional funding can be secured. However, the organization plans to relaunch its efforts as soon as finances become available. Those seeking monetary help now can apply for the Artist Relief Tree Waitlist. Artists of any discipline are eligible to receive $250; the relief package is awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis.

How to apply: For the grant itself, applicants have to upload a resume or a link to their work website. They are also asked to share the fundraiser on social media platforms and attach a screenshot to the application. The waitlist only requires you to fill out basic personal information.

Expected time to apply:
Approximately ten minutes.

Equal Sound

The Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund was set up in response to the mass cancellation of events and gigs due to COVID-19. The relief fund aims to directly assist musicians no longer getting paid for formerly confirmed gigs because of the pandemic. Any musician who can be paid legally in the U.S. is eligible; the application requires inclusion of a W-9 form to track payments. The fund also stresses it will not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

How to apply: Fill out the personal information packet, including the date of your canceled gig and how much you were expecting to make. Keep in mind the maximum payout is $500, although you can apply more than once. Outline who hired you, whether it was a venue or a booking agent, etc. Upload your W-9 and evidence you had this gig confirmed and subsequently canceled in a single PDF.

Expected time to apply: Approximately 30 minutes.

  The Musicians Foundation

Temporarily suspended due to high volume of applicants


The Musicians Foundation's COVID-19 relief fund has temporarily paused; however, it's due to reopen by the end of the week, so start assembling the information you'll need. To be eligible for the CV19 Emergency Aid Grant, you must have worked as a professional musician in the United States for at least five years. The organization defines a "professional musician" as someone whose primary source of income is derived from work as a musician or music educator. You must supply tax documents proving you have previously listed "musician" as your occupation.

How to apply: Once the application process reopens, it can be found at the Musicians Foundation website. To complete the pre-application, you first need to set up a Submittable account. The application has two steps and asks for both personal and professional information.

Expected time to apply: Approximately one hour.

The Recording Academy / MusiCares

The Recording Academy and its charitable foundation MusiCares have established the COVID-19 Relief Fund to help people in the music industry affected by the coronavirus and cancellation of music events. Currently, the funds can only be distributed to musicians with at least five years of employment in the music industry, a minimum of six commercially released singles, and six commercially or promotionally released music videos.

How to apply: At this time, musicians can apply for a maximum of $1,000 compensation for work that was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Applicants must complete the MusiCares application (for Floridians, that would be the East Region Application), including proof of cancellations and original bookings. Attach a copy of your lease agreement or mortgage statement that includes account numbers, vendors' address, and your name on the lease or statement.

Expected time to apply: Approximately 30 minutes.

The Rauschenberg Foundation

The New York Foundation for the Arts and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation have teamed up to help artists with medical expenses. The Rauschenberg Emergency Grants — expected to pay out in late May or early June — will provide visual artists, media artists, and choreographers one-time cash grants of up to $5,000 to cover expenses caused by one-time, unexpected medical or dental emergencies. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must demonstrate current and ongoing activity in artistic disciplines. Additionally, would-be recipients of assistance cannot be enrolled in degree-seeking programs.

How to apply:
Create a username and password for nyfa.org. Artists need to include details on when their condition arose as well as current treatment plans and prognosis. Artists must verify their condition, which could include written correspondence with a physician on letterhead, hospital or medical bills, and insurance forms with payment requests. Applicants will also need to describe how they are currently meeting these medical expenses. They will then briefly describe their artistic practice, and explain how these funds could help their recovery and ability to work. Finally, they must upload a resume and a copy of their latest tax return.

Expected time to apply: Approximately two to three hours.

Sweet Relief

The Sweet Relief Fund is offering financial assistance to musicians and music industry workers for medical expenses, lodging, clothing, food, and other vital living expenses. Sweet Relief Musicians Fund’s policy is to make direct payments to doctors, hospitals, medical service providers, or other providers of necessities; it's important to indicate why another payment method should be used in your case. The fund has been specifically organized for musicians or industry workers seeking funds because of sickness or loss of work stemming from COVID-19.

How to apply: Download the grant application on the fund's website. Fill out the personal information packet, followed by a series of questions that describe why you need assistance. Applicants are asked to complete a detailed questionnaire about their professional history in the music industry. They will need to supply their adjusted gross income for each of the last two years, as well as a monthly budget form.

Expected time to apply: Approximately one to two hours.

Oolite Arts Relief Fund

Oolite Arts have started a COVID-19 relief fund with $25,000 of redirected funds from events canceled due to the virus. Any visual artists who are Miami-Dade County residents are eligible to apply. The funds are meant to compensate artists for the cancellation of scheduled employment or a professional artistic opportunity, including
commissions and exhibitions. The deadline for applications is April 16.

How to apply: You will first need to create a submittable account, which requires you to create a username and password and is free to set up. The application itself is one of the more straightforward ones, the first section asking for basic personal information like your name and address. You will have to describe in as much detail as possible the professional opportunity that was canceled due to the virus, including the date or dates it was supposed to happen and how much money you missed out on. Keep in mind this information will have to be verified at a later date. You will then state exactly how much of the $500 you need, if not the whole amount. Upload your CV or resume in either PDF, DOC, DOCX, TXT, or RFT format. The last section of the application asks for clarification of age race and gender, but it is noted this has no bearing on the application process.

Expected time to apply: Approximately 20 to 30 minutes, assuming your CV is ready to go.

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