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Unfettering Artists' Productivity and Impact

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In response to the economic crisis, and ensuing financial needs of individuals that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic, the Center for Cultural Innovation, a trusted intermediary focused on the economic security of people in the arts, has been the administrator of six relief fund efforts that included the San Francisco Arts & Artists Relief Fund, Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists, East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts, California Relief Fund for Artists and Cultural Practitioners, Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund: Bay Area, and the City of San José Coronavirus Relief Fund: Artists.

The combination of these efforts has resulted in over $4.8M distributed to 3,031 grantees.


 San Francisco Arts & Artists Relief Fund

From March 23 to April 15, 2020, under the leadership of Mayor London N. Breed, San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and Grants for the Arts (GFTA) supported artists and arts organizations that anchor our already vulnerable and vitally important cultural communities with the San Francisco Arts & Artists Relief Fund. The City made available an additional investment to re-open this Fund for individual artists, from May 3 - May 15. Additional support was provided by the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman, Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and individual donors.

In both rounds, the Fund prioritized the financial needs of artists and organizations who are of and serving cultural populations that have been and remain financially vulnerable—Black, Indigenous, immigrant, trans, and people with disabilities. Ultimately, 699 individual artists were supported along with 65 arts and culture organizations.

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Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists

From May 4 – 24, 2020, California Community Foundation (CCF) together with the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Sam Francis Foundation, and the Shepard and Amanda Fairey Foundation, launched the Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists to support the region’s visual artists who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists distributed $700,000 to 400 visual artists who reflect the cultural and geographic diversity of L.A. County.

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East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts 

The East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts was a pooled fund led by Kenneth Rainin Foundation together with Akonadi Foundation; City of Berkeley, Berkeley Civic Arts Program; City of Oakland, Cultural Affairs Division; Richard Diebenkorn Foundation; Fleishhacker Foundation; Gerbode Foundation; Hellman Foundation Fund; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman; Oakland Covid-19 Relief Fund; San Francisco Foundation; Shuler-Heimburger Family Fund at East Bay Community Foundation; Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation; and individual donors.

The Fund was offered from May 18 - June 5 to help artists, teaching artists, culture bearers, and nonprofit arts workers who reside in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, with dedicated support for those in the City of Oakland and the City of Berkeley.

The Fund prioritized the financial needs of individuals who are of cultural populations that have been and are particularly financially vulnerable—Black, Indigenous, Latinx, foreign-born immigrant, trans, and people with disabilities. Upon closing, the East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts distributed $744,100 to 515 individuals in the arts across Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

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California Relief Fund for Artists & Cultural Practitioners

The California Relief Fund for Artists & Cultural Practitioners was a partnership between the California Arts Council (CAC) and CCI. The Fund distributed $920,000 from the CAC’s general fund in the form of $1,000 grants to help artists and cultural practitioners (including fine and performing artists, teaching artists, culture bearers, and maker-based sole or collective creative entrepreneurs) who comprise the various and diverse cultural communities of the state of California. An additional $8K was contributed by individual donors during the open application cycle.

The Fund was offered from July 22 - August 18. A total of $928,000 was awarded to 928 grantees across 54 of California's 58 counties.  

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Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund: Bay Area

The Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund: Bay Area was made possible by Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. CCI, in partnership with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, administered the Fund which supported individual roots musicians in the Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma. The Fund prioritized the financial needs of individuals who are of cultural populations that have been and are particularly financially vulnerable—Black, Indigenous, Latinx, foreign-born immigrant, trans, and people with disabilities. 

Applications were accepted August 24 - September 24, 2020. A total of 330 roots musicians received $2,000 grants each totaling $660,000.

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City of San José Coronavirus Relief Fund: Artists

The City of San José Coronavirus Relief Fund: Artists was a response to the financial impact on professional artists caused by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. In response to this dire time of need, the City of San José made available $208,000 to individual artists in their city. This amount was distributed by the federal government through the United States CARES Act, which was allocated by the State of California to the City of San José. Because CARES Act support is restricted to costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the San José Fund was structured as a reimbursement-based fund to mitigate COVID-19-related financial impacts suffered by individual artists residing in San José who work as freelancers or sole proprietors primarily in the arts sector.

Applications were accepted September 15 – 29, 2020. A total of $208,007 was awarded to 94 artists, who received grants of up to $2,342. Grant amounts were determined according to the total amount of reimbursable expenses submitted by the applicant.

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