Cultural Alliance launches relief fund for York artists ‘stuck in a limbo’

Artists were feeling the impact of canceled events and performances weeks before York County sheltered in place. Now, the Cultural Alliance of York County wants to leverage Give Local York to help artists get through this time.

Written by: Rebecca Hanlon
Artist Terri Yacovelli created an 18x24 Encaustic called "COVID-19" that she created in response to the virus. Terri received one of the first round of Artist Professional Development grants the Cultural Alliance awarded. Those grants are now being suspended and the funds are being used for the new Artist Relief Fund. (Submitted)

The trickle of canceled events started in February, when touring musicians, artists, dancers, and authors were clearing their calendars as states and countries started responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Artists felt the impact long before other industries,” says Kelley Gibson, President of the Cultural Alliance of York County. “It forced our organization to look at how we support artists and decide we had to do something different.”

While the Cultural Alliance recently started giving grants to artists seeking professional development funding, it became apparent that the immediate need of many local artists should come in the form of relief dollars that would replace some of the income lost on canceled events or projects.

The Artist Relief Fund will allow those artists to apply for one-time grants of up to $500. Kelley estimates they can help about 20 artists. It also created an opportunity for the Cultural Alliance to morph its Give Local York participation.

This is what they’ve been training for. This is the situation where you create the documentation of our current events.

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Kelley Gibson Cultural Alliance of York County

The Cultural Alliance typically offers a $25,000 stretch pool to support other arts organizations who sign up for Give Local York, set for Friday, May 1. This year, donors can also give to the Artist Relief Fund, which will directly feed that pipeline to continue giving to artists.

“We hope we give two rounds of grants from our own funds,” Kelley says. “If more money comes in, we’ll keep distributing it.”

There are two realities that have become clear to Kelley and others at the Cultural Alliance. The first is that there’s no end date for when artists, or any industry, can get back to normal operations. Most artists are not counting on their income picking up again until 2021.

Second, many of these independent artists are not nonprofits who qualify for operational grants, and they lack the resources to navigate SBA loans, leaving them “stuck in a limbo where they don’t fit in,” Kelley says.

While many York County artists are trying to wade through the hardships this virus has brought their industry, they’re also finding optimism in what is to come.

“This is what they’ve been training for,” Kelley says. “This is the situation where you create the documentation of our current events. Your songs, your work, the films that come out of this, the music – it will all be a collective remembrance of our time.”

Click here to learn more about the York County Artists Relief Fund

Give Local York’s goal this year is to see 10,000 York Countians make a gift to support a cause they care about on May 1. York County is a great place to live because of neighbors like you, who choose to give where they live. Give Local at www.givelocalyork.org.

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