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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Help for starving artists

State Arts Council and Brown will fund artists impacted by pandemic
By Will Collette

Rhode Island’s large and varied arts community are stuck in the same mire as small businesses deemed to be “non-essential.” 

Galleries, shows and arts festivals are closed for the duration but the people who enrich our lives through art have got to eat like all the rest of us.

Charlestown and its neighbors are home to many fine artists and great galleries. Summer shows and festivals will probably be cancelled this summer. So funds to help our vibrant arts community during this crisis are timely and welcome.

The Rhode Island Council on the Arts and Brown University both have launched grants programs to help such artists. The Council with support from the Rhode Island Foundation is launching a $100,000 seed fund. Brown has pledged to award $2000 to 10 artists severely impacted by the pandemic.

Both programs have tight deadlines. Applications to the Arts Council program are due April 15. Brown wants applications by April 24.

Continue on to read the notices from both funding sources that contain instructions and links.

Artist Relief Fund
RI Council on the Arts

With events of all types being cancelled and art spaces of all kinds being closed to reduce spread of COVID-19, many people who make income partially or fully through gigs and freelance work are facing immediate financial precarity. The Rhode Island Artist Relief Fund will award grants of up to $1,000 to help artists, teaching artists, arts administrators and other freelance arts and culture workers stay housed, fed, and safe in this time.

As part of RISCA’s response, we have worked with partners at Providence Arts Culture + Tourism and the Rhode Island Foundation to create and fund an Artist Relief Fund, which will be managed by RISCA and administered by the Alliance of Artist Communities.

We are starting with a seed fund of $100,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation, RISCA, and Mayor Jorge Elorza. We invite you to join this effort to support our freelance arts and culture workers in this time, particularly before the financial relief included in the CARES Act is accessible to self-employed workers. You can support arts and culture in Rhode Island by donating to the fund here:

Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded and disbursed weekly, and will be based on eligibility and immediate financial need. We will disburse grants until the fund is expended. The grant application can be found in RISCA’s Individual Artist grant portal here.

To be eligible, you must be able to answer “Yes” to all of these questions.
  • I have been a Rhode Island resident for at least one year and will be a resident upon receipt of any grant funding.
  • I am a practicing artist, culture worker, or arts administrator capable of providing examples of creative work made, curated, or otherwise administered.
  • I am at least 18 years of age.
  • I am not currently enrolled in a degree-granting program (e.g. Bachelor’s or Master’s; if pursuing a Ph.D., coursework must be completed).
  • I am experiencing financial hardship due to a loss of income related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How do I prove eligibility?
  • Submit a w9 with your Rhode Island mailing address.
  • Provide either an artist résumé, a work sample, or a social media account or website featuring your artistic/cultural work. 
  • Verify that you are at least 18 years of age.
  • Verify that you are not currently enrolled in a degree-granting program.
  • List lost income related to your arts practice.
  • List your immediate anticipated expenses that you cannot afford.
How and where can I apply?

You will apply through RISCA’s individual artist grant portal: If you have applied for a grant through RISCA previously, you can and should use the same account. This is a simple and speedy process.

If you have any technical issues, please contact

Should I apply more than once if I have not been funded?

No. Once you submit an application, please do not re-submit. If your application is not selected in one cycle, it will automatically be re-entered into any subsequent round(s) until funds diminish. We will re-evaluate our capacity to fund those who have already received funds every 30 days.

How will grantees be selected and how will funds be disbursed?

Grants will be made on a first-come-first-serve basis until the fund is exhausted or replenished.
Applications will be reviewed only for eligibility only by a three-person panel including RISCA and ACT staff as well as an independent Rhode Island-based arts administrator.

Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted, with the weekly cut off on Wednesday night to be considered for the current week’s funding.

Grant allocations will be determined and applicants notified on Friday.

If you receive funding, you will receive an email confirmation.

Checks will be cut and mailed on Monday.

What can I use the funding for?

This is unrestricted funding that you may use for any kind of relief. You do not need to reveal how you spend the money. This fund is intended to help artists and culture workers experiencing financial losses or hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is this award taxable?

Yes. This grant is considered taxable income by the IRS so you will need to pay taxes on it. Each person’s tax obligations will differ based on individual circumstances. You may want to consult a tax professional as you prepare your taxes for 2020.

Why do you require a W9?

A W9 is required by the IRS in order for the Alliance of Artist Communities to distribute these grants. Collecting this information at the application phase will allow us to distribute funds more quickly to selected grantees.

RISCA and The Alliance of Artist Communities will not retain sensitive information (e.g. Social Security numbers) beyond the time frame required by its auditors and so that we may produce required 1099 forms for grantees and their tax reporting obligations at the end of the year.

How do I complete the W9 form requirement?

The federal W9 can be downloaded from the IRS here.

Please print the first page and fill it out completely with your signature. Scan or take a picture of the signed document and submit it through the application portal or email it to

Applicants can also fill out and sign their W9 digitally using Adobe Acrobat.

What security measures are in place for the information I’m providing in this application?
Your W9 will be sent to the Alliance of Artist Communities via a password protected dropbox, not through email or mail. The only people with access to your W9 will be Mollie Flanagan at RISCA and Stephanie Storch at the Alliance of Artist Communities.

If I’m awarded a grant, will my name be made public?

No. Personal information (including your name) will not be disclosed or publicized.

Am I able to get this grant more than once?

Maybe. Due to the magnitude of this crisis, we anticipate many more requests for funding than there are funds to distribute. That being said, we will re-evaluate this in 30 days and may open the application for a second round depending on need, available funds, and availability of other financial support systems.

If I don’t receive the grant, but the application process re-opens at a later date, do I have to submit another application?

No. Your submitted application will automatically be re-entered into any subsequent round(s) as funding becomes available.

Brown Arts Initiative at Brown University

Brown Arts Initiative Community Development Grant Application
Ends on April 24, 2020


Brown University's Brown Arts Initiative will award grants of $2,000 to Rhode Island-resident practicing artists whose income has been severely impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Awards are in support of project development for inclusion in the first year of programming for Remaking the Real, BAI’s new three-year theme. Remaking the Real considers how artists, media-makers and art and media theorists engage with the real, envisioning, re-envisioning, and aesthetically remaking images and narratives of reality so as to bring new possibilities into existence. Programming for the 2020-2021 academic year will focus on historical revisionism, authorship, and persona. 

Projects eligible for funding include exhibitions, installations, performances, lectures, workshops, screenings, readings, and concerts that integrate the Remaking the Real theme. 

Terms and Conditions

Grant recipients are required to check-in with the BAI Program Manager and submit progress reports every three months. Reports will be posted publicly to the BAI website. The cohort grant recipients will also meet periodically as a group to reflect on their projects and the process. One important question to ponder as a group will be to discuss how artists plan for the future but continue to be responsive to the now.

Awardees are asked to participate in a student engagement opportunity in conjunction with their project development. Engagement opportunities could include a class visit, student lunch, critiques, master class, or other unique opportunities developed in conjunction with the project. Awardees will collaborate with BAI to determine the nature of the student engagement opportunity to best fit the skills, interests, and availability of the artist. 

Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on relevance to the Remaking the Real theme. The selection committee will strive to select projects that represent the depth and breadth of various artistic disciplines and project types.

Application Deadlines and Procedures for Submitting Proposals

Applications are accepted electronically via Submittable. The deadline to apply is April 24, 2020, with award notifications made by May 1, 2020. Funding will be disbursed shortly thereafter. CLICK HERE for links at the bottom of the page.

Questions? Email