By Donna S. Collins, Ohio Arts Council Executive Director
It’s been quite a week in Ohio. With updates pinging our phones every second, emails flying to and fro, and difficult decisions being made every day, the Ohio Arts Council understands that this is not the start to spring that any of our wonderful arts organizations, arts educators, and artists had hoped for or anticipated.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how generous Ohioans are. How we pull together when times are tough. How we enthusiastically jump in to support each other when we see ways that we can help—and when those avenues of assistance aren’t immediately clear, how we start thinking creatively to find a solution. How we aren’t afraid to put our heads together to develop innovative ways in which we can have a positive impact. And how we are never too busy to take the time to check in with our friends, colleagues, and neighbors in the arts.
These past several days, the OAC has been having its own discussions, working to prepare a plan that will allow us to continue to serve you, our amazing Ohio arts community, to the best of our ability while adjusting our approach as more information becomes available from our state’s health and governmental leaders. We’ve had to make some difficult decisions of our own, as we’ve chosen to reschedule the 2020 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio for a later date.
As of March 13, the OAC has begun proactively issuing partial payments for nearly all current FY 2020 operating and project support grants that have not already received them. These are grants that have already been extensively reviewed via rigorous panel processes and awarded funding by the OAC board. Partial payments are typically awarded only upon request, but by taking this action the OAC will quickly inject more than $3.5 million directly into arts and cultural organizations around the state, which can then be put immediately to work within the Ohio economy.
More changes and updates will likely come as we learn more from Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton about our state’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), but we remain committed to the health and safety of our arts community as our top priority.
In uncertain times like these, it is sometimes hard to feel as if we can do anything that could make a difference. But I believe there are things every single one of us can do to support each other.
Here are a few suggestions:
Keep your tickets and registrations instead of asking for a refund.
For all of us who are holding tickets for concerts, plays, lectures, etc., let’s consider not asking for refunds, if we are financially able. Our artists and arts organizations need our support now more than ever. With event cancellations and other social distancing measures being implemented rapidly across the state in response to COVID-19, the Ohio arts and cultural community now faces a potentially grave and extended cash flow shortage, which may directly affect the state’s nearly 290,000 creative industries workers, their families, and communities.
Consider the amount you paid for your ticket as an investment in Ohio’s artists and musicians (who need paid even when shows are cancelled by no fault of their own). Helping to offset the loss of revenue for our nonprofits will make a huge difference as arts and culture organizations are forced to cancel events and programming due to the Ohio Department of Health’s ban on mass gatherings.
Take care of your own health and stay connected.
The Ohio Department of Health has a website that is updated daily and provides helpful tips on preventing infectious disease, educational videos, and news releases with updates from the Department of Health and the Ohio Governor’s Office, and more. A phone line has been set up for answers to your COVID-19 questions and is reachable at 1-833-4ASKODH (1-833-427-5634).
The Ohio Arts Council has developed a page to provide answers to frequently asked questions, keep you apprised of agency news and updates, and share resources to assist you in your operations and planning: oac.ohio.gov/About/Coronavirus-Updates. We will also be sharing links to emergency funding resources for artists and arts organizations on our social media pages in the coming weeks.
Share information with artists, arts administrators, and teaching artists in your community about emergency funds and other sources of support.
Many entities nationwide are offering emergency funding resources for artists and arts organizations.
Americans for the Arts launched their new COVID-19 Resource and Response Center on March 13, 2020. This hub of information includes valuable links to funding/grant opportunities throughout the country. It also features a link to an economic impact survey aiming to “capture a broad spectrum of data and stories that will demonstrate how the arts and culture workers triumphed and survived this crisis as well as the effect of the outbreak on operations through cancelled events, lost wages, and additional expenses.” You can access the survey and resource links here.
Please share these links with those who you feel can benefit from this funding. They are not by any means the only resources out there, but they are a good way to get started:
For the Literary Arts:
The PEN America Writers’ Emergency Fund is a small grants program for professional—published or produced—writers in acute or unexpected financial crisis. Depending on the situation and level of need, grants are in the range of $2,000.
Next deadline: February 28, 2020 | More information: pen.org/writers-emergency-fund
For the Performing Arts
The Actors Fund offers free and confidential social service programs that are available nationally and address a wide array of challenges faced by people in performing arts and entertainment.
More information: actorsfund.org
For the Visual Arts
The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc. Emergency Grant provides interim financial assistance to qualified painters, printmakers, and sculptors whose needs are the result of an unforeseen, catastrophic incident, and who lack the resources to meet that situation. Each grant is given as one-time assistance for a specific emergency. The maximum amount of this grant is $15,000, a typical grant is $5,000.
Rolling deadline | More information: gottliebfoundation.org/emergency-grant
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ (FCA) emergency grants provide urgent funding for visual and performing artists who incur unexpected or unbudgeted expenses for projects close to completion with committed exhibition or performance dates. The FCA makes approximately 12-15 grants each month, and grants range in amount from $500 to $2,500.
Rolling deadline | More information:foundationforcontemporaryarts.org
The Artists Fellowship web page offers a list of emergency aid resources and additional grant funding opportunities for visual artists, many of which are open to qualified artists in craft, design, and fine arts disciplines.
More information: artistsfellowship.org/emergency-aid-resources
The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.
Rolling deadline | More information: sweetrelief.org | Looking to donate? You can donate to the Sweet Relief COVID-19 Donor-Directed Fund
As we continue to learn more about the coronavirus in the coming days and weeks, let’s continue to do the right thing by our fellow Ohioans in the arts. We will support each other and get through this together, as we always do in Ohio.
Until next time,
Donna S. Collins
Ohio Arts Council Executive Director