Arizona Artists, Arts Professionals to Receive $171,830 in Emergency Relief

Posted By on April 30, 2020
Photo by Slavin Gujic. Courtesy of Mesa Arts Center, Mesa

A group of Arizona arts funders and service organizations will provide $171,830 in emergency relief grants of up to $750 to 235 artists and arts professionals across the state.

The Emergency Relief Fund for Arizona Artists and Arts Professionals was established as a collaborative fund to support artists and creatives experiencing cancelled events and terminated contracts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund was initially seeded with $130,000 from the Arizona Community Foundation, $15,000 from partners including Artlink Inc. and the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, and $25,000 from the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona in support of southern Arizona artists. The application process was managed by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona.

Open to residents of Arizona whose primary source of income is in artistic production, teaching artist residencies, cultural events, or contract work with nonprofit arts organizations, the online application opened on Saturday, April 4, and closed later that same day due to the high volume of submissions.

“We received 520 applications in the first eight hours the application was live. In the days since, an additional 500 individuals signed up to be notified in the event the fund re-opens,” said Jaime Dempsey, Executive Director for the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “This group of Arizonans documented a minimum of $1.5 million in cancelled contracts from March to June alone. The true income loss is likely 5-10 times greater, given the fact that applicants were only asked to substantiate immediate lost income up to $1,500. The job loss is simply staggering.”    

The 235 relief grants announced today represent 45 percent of the initial applicant pool. First-round recipients hail from cities and towns across Arizona, with 25 percent from rural/remote communities and 75 percent from urban metros. Forty-six percent of recipients identify as individuals of color. Recipients range in age from 18 to more than 75, and collectively they specialize in dozens of creative disciplines.

After being considered in accordance with the stated commitments for the fund, applications were entered into a process for randomized selection. Value and need are accepted as fundamental conditions for this program; applications are not ranked according to subjective merit or persuasiveness.

Partners on the Emergency Relief Fund for Arizona Artists and Arts Professionals are still actively fundraising to support applicants who were not awarded relief grants in the first round. Individuals and organizations are invited to join in the effort and contribute to the fund at

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