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To Get Quick Cash To Struggling Artists, Coalition Of Louisville-Area Arts Groups Launch Microgrants

The entrance to the cafe at the shuttered Speed Art Museum on April 2, 2020.
The entrance to the cafe at the shuttered Speed Art Museum on April 2, 2020.

Kentucky and Indiana artists facing economic hardships due to pandemic-related loss of work can now apply for $500 "rapid-response microgrants.”

The Artist Relief Trust, or ART, was established by a coalition of Greater Louisville cultural groups in an effort to ensure that closures and shutdowns from the COVID-19 outbreak don’t rob local artists of the ability to pay for basic needs, such as food, housing or health care. 

Artists of any discipline, living in Kentucky or Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott and Washington counties in Indiana, are eligible to apply

Louisville nonprofit ELEVATOR Artist Resource is shepherding the initiative.

ELEVATOR founder and board chair Alison Huff, who is also the managing director for Commonwealth Theatre Center in Louisville, said it was clear very quickly how much this pandemic would financially devastate the arts community, whether that be independent artists finding themselves gig-less or arts organization employees ending up jobless. While there are resources either already available or in the pipeline, like expanded unemployment benefits eligibility and relief aid from the National Endowment for the Arts, Huff said they wanted to “come up with a way to help artists quickly.”

“There are varying degrees of ability to access this money and various timelines to be able to do so,” she said. “I don't know anyone who's actually gotten a check yet.”

Through foundation and private donor support, including the Great Meadows Foundation and Kentucky Foundation for Women, ART organizers have raised $75,000. This initial pot of funds is “seed money,” and they hope to raise more through a GoFundMe campaign. 

It was also important, Huff added, for this to be a statewide, even regional, effort.

“I think there is a statewide connection in Kentucky for the first time in a long time, at least probably the first time I can remember,” she said. “It does feel like we're in this together.”

The idea is to “keep this as simple and streamlined as possible,” with a straightforward online application that requires a brief description of their art, as well as their present financial predicament. 

Huff said decisions will be based on need, and they’ve already received more than 200 applications since launching the initiative Saturday evening. 

Other partner organizations on the initiative include Actors Theatre of Louisville, KMAC Museum, Louisville Ballet, Commonwealth Theatre Center, Louisville Fringe and OPEN Community Arts Center, as well as individual artists.

Disclosure: Great Meadows Foundation also provides grant support to WFPL News.

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