The effects of the superstorm Sandy have been catastrophic and creative professionals– artists, writers, designers and musicians– are among those who have been particularly hard hit. Chelsea galleries have been flooded, and there are huge concentrations of artist studios in other devastated neighborhoods, including the East Village, the LES, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Redhook, Gowanus, Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark. Many are still without power and water.
Hyperallergic profiled one artist, Rachel Beach, whose studio is in the 99 Commercial Street complex in Greenpoint. Although she’d spent days preparing for the storm and removing everything from the floor, securing items as high as six feet, she returned to find that toxic waters from the Newtown Creek, a superfund site, had almost reached the ceiling.
I have waves of heartbreak and devastation as I think about the work I’ve lost. My equipment, all the motors blown, $40,000 in saws I’ve built up over the years … I feel like I’ve lost a lifetime of work. Stacks of drawings and sketchbooks from the past 15 years. I have stacks from undergrad and grad school, just my faves, were there. Everything I loved.
Unfortunately, Rachel’s experience is not atypical. Artists are returning to their studios to find that they’ve lost work, supplies and equipment. This is particularly damaging to those who are self-employed or freelancers, as many artists are. Even with insurance, the cost of replacing equipment and restoring a space while unable to work and earn income can ruin one financially. Heritage Preservation has published a guide for navigating FEMA. There are also some resources in place specifically for artists, and if you’ve been affected by Sandy, please take advantage of these.
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has urged artists and galleries not to immediately discard damaged works, as more may be salvageable than They’ve posted this message on their website:
For 24-hour assistance, call (202) 661 8068. AIC-CERT responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, states agencies, vendors and the public. Volunteers can provide advice and referrals by phone at the number above. Requests for onsite assistance will be forwarded by the volunteer to the AIC-CERT Coordinator and Project Director for response. Less urgent questions can also be answered by emailing email@example.com.
Past catastrophic events, such as Katrina, have resulted in residencies and emergency grants for artists specifically affected by that disaster, and I imagine that in the coming months, we’ll see similar funding offered to those impacted by Sandy. In fact, Council of Foundations has already begun to compile a list of philanthropic responses to Sandy. However, for now, here’s a list of emergency grants for artists that aren’t disaster specific:
Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc.
The Emergency Assistance Program is intended to provide interim financial assistance to qualified artists who lack the resources to meet their situation. Each grant is given as a one time assistance.
Artists’ Fellowship, Inc.
The Artists’ Fellowship, Inc. is a private, charitable foundation that assists professional fine artists (painters, graphic artists, sculptors) and their families in times of emergency, disability, or bereavement.
Change, Inc. provides one-time emergency grants up to $1000 to artists of any discipline. Applicants must be professional artists who can demonstrate need. Each applicant must submit a detailed letter describing the financial emergency, copies of outstanding bills, medical fee estimates and current financial statements, along with a career resume, reviews, exhibition or performance announcements, slides or photos of work and two letters of references from someone in affilitated field. Only complete applications will be accepted.
PO Box 54
Captiva, Fl 33924
CERF+ (Craft Emergency Relief Fund + Artists’ Emergency Resources)
CERF+ emergency relief assistance includes small grants, no-interest loans, access to resources, waivers and discounts on booth fees, and donations of craft supplies and equipment. One of the eligibility requirements is having had a recent career-threatening emergency such as serious illness, injury, or significant loss from theft, fire, flood or other disaster.
The Haven Foundation
The Haven Foundation is a national, nonprofit organization making grants to freelance writers and artists experiencing career-threatening illness, accident, natural disaster or other emergency or personal catastrophe. The Haven Foundation is a small fund providing grants of up to $25,000 per year, renewable for up to five years (pending approval of renewal application).
Joan Mitchell Foundation
The Foundation aids and assists painters and sculptors, and provides targeted relief to those affected by a catastrophic event. Apply for the Individual Visual Artist Application for Support due to the effects of a Natural Disaster.
Max’s Kansas City Project
The Max’s Kansas City Project provides emergency funding and resources to professionals in the creative arts who live in New York state. Individuals who have made their living through their art form, either professionally or personally, and demonstrate a financial need for medical aid, legal aid, or housing. The maximum grant is $1,000.
The Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI)
The Santa Fe Art Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico offers Emergency Relief Residencies to artists and writers affected by the horrors of political, social, or natural disasters. The one-to-three month residencies include a room with private bath, studio space for visual artists, and basic breakfast foods. All residency fees are waived
American Society of Journalists & Authors
The American Society of Journalists and Authors helps established freelance writers across the country who because of advanced age, illness, disability, a natural disaster, or an extraordinary professional crisis, are unable to work.
Poets In Need
Poets in Need is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 providing emergency assistance to poets who have an established presence in the literary community as innovators in the field and have a substantive body of published work. Assistance is given only in cases of current financial need that is in excess of and unrelated to the recipient’s normal economic situation and that is the result of recent emergency (due, for example, to fire, flood, eviction, or a medical crisis).
Advertising Industry Emergency Fund (AIEF)
The Advertising Industry Emergency Fund provides financial assistance to those in the industry during a time of crisis, when they are unable to work.
The Broadcasters Foundation of America provides an anonymous safety net to men and women in the radio and television broadcast profession in cases of critical illness or crisis.
MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE
American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund
AGMA members in good standing may be eligible for emergency financial assistance. Grants are administered by The Actors Fund from the New York, Chicago and Los Angeles offices.
MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies.
Episcopal Actors Guild of America
Offers aid to those in economic need because of extenuating circumstances such as debilitating illness, (including chemical dependency problems); illness or death of a family member or significant other; a sudden increase in expenses or unforeseen drop in income; or, if retired or disabled, an insufficient fixed income from sources such as pensions, social security or disability benefits.