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© Christina Santucci

Financial Assistance Available to Photographers Affected by Coronavirus

Christina Santucci
Christina Santucci
+April 18, 2020

For many photographers, the coronavirus pandemic has upended their businesses and livelihoods, as around the world people have been asked to stay inside their homes and only venture outside for essential goods. In an attempt to help struggling visual artists and journalists, a number of organizations, governments and nonprofits have set up grants, loans and funds to provide relief.

Practicing artists, who have been residing and working in the United States for at least the past two years and have experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, can apply for $5,000 grants through Artists Relief. In addition, any independent worker in the U.S. who has worked as a freelancer for at least one year and has experienced a recent, sudden, and unforeseen hardship or loss of income due to COVID-19, may be eligible to receive financial assistance of up to $1,000 through the Freelancers Relief Fund. Applications have temporarily closed but organizers hope to reopen submissions.

The Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund is providing grants of up to $200 to those who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). The funding is geared towards artists and arts administrators whose income has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. CERF+ is focusing its emergency assistance grants on artists who themselves have been infected with the coronavirus. Additionally, artists, who make work of a contemporary, experimental nature and have had an exhibition canceled or postponed because of the pandemic, can apply for grants up to $1,500 from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts emergency fund. Applicants must live in the United States or U.S. territories.

Women Photograph is currently fundraising with hopes of offering a second round of Emergency Fund grants after the first round closed earlier this month. Although the organization is not sure when they will be able to initiate the second round of disbursements, the application portal remains open. Women and non-binary photographers can request up to $500 when applying, and for those who have already sent in applications, their materials have been kept on file to review.

Women Photograph has also partnered with Nikon to provide five $5,000 grants for photography projects — either new or in-progress — from visual journalists working in a documentary capacity. One of the awards will be earmarked for a non-binary or transgender photographer, and the deadline is May 15.

To assist women journalists who have lost work, were recently laid off or face serious financial hardship, the International Women’s Media Foundation is accepting applicants for small grants of up to $2,000. However, additional consideration may be given on a case-by-case basis for those who have greater financial need.

In its statement about the grants, IWMF organizers wrote, “Based on early, anecdotal evidence of cancelled assignments, lost income and an inability to pay essential living expenses, we anticipate a great need for support within our global network of journalists – especially among freelancers with no safety net.”

In addition, National Geographic is offering grants from $1,000 to $8,000 through its COVID-19 emergency fund in order to deliver news to underserved communities. Organizers stated that beyond coverage of medical and physical health, they are encouraging reporting that covers social, emotional, economic, and equity issues. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis.

Facebook Journalism Project has partnered with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association to offer grants between $1,000 and $5,000 to newsrooms as well as freelance journalists with an established relationship with news organizations in the United States and Canada. And the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has created a relief fund and will announce an application process in the next few weeks.

Format, a website developer focusing on photographers, has created a $25,000 fund to help photographers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Applications are open to anyone in the global photo community -- not just Format customers. Convertkit, which provides email marketing tools and automations, is providing grants of up to $500 to “active creators.” Originally the fund was launched with $50,000, but donations have helped push the total over $185,000. Grants up to $1,000 are also being offered by Max’s Kansas City Project to financially distressed individuals in the creative and performing arts for housing, medical and legal aid.

Arts Council England plans to distribute grants totaling £20 million to creative practitioners including photographers. Although the first round of applications closed on April 16, the second round opened the same day, and applicants will need to register by April 27 in order to submit before the deadline of April 30.

The Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform has launched a new funding program in response to the effect the coronavirus has had on the arts and creative community. To support independent artists and creative practitioners in the Middle East and North Africa, the institution is offering fees generally between $1000 to $2,000. The next round closes April 30 and the subsequent one June 7.

Meanwhile Fundación Botín plans to award six grants to support arts projects. Artists of any nationality may apply, but preference will be given to citizens and residents of Spain under the age of 30.

Twenty Summers, a nonprofit arts organization based in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has launched its Emergency Arts Fund for artists and arts organizations that have suffered unmanageable financial loss because of the pandemic as well as a fundraising digital series, called Art Interrupted. In order to participate in this program, artists must submit videos about their work, and Twenty Summers will then promote selected artists online.

Several funds are geared to artists in specific cities, counties and states. The Mayer Fund offers economic relief grants averaging $2,000 to New Yorkers experiencing financial distress. Other opportunities are available for photographers in the Bay area, Laguna Beach, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Greensboro, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, the greater Pittsburgh area, North Carolina and Spokane, Washington. Creative Capital has compiled a detailed list of funding for online workshops and national and local grants, as well as other useful information such as guidelines about the postponement of work.

Christina Santucci
Christina Santucci
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Christina is a New York based freelance Photographer and photo editor. A longtime photojournalist, s...

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