2020 is behind us, but its challenges for artists still linger. In fact, 95% American artists have lost income because of the pandemic, and 65% are currently out-of-work, according to a survey by Americans for the Artsthrough no fault of their own. Arts organizations were one of the first to be disrupted by COVID-19 and will be among the last industries to recover. Artists and arts workers are acutely impacted by the shutdowns of theaters, closures of arts businesses, suspension of classes and canceled school contracts and workshop events.

We can’t afford for these artists to leave our region or to leave their profession altogether. This would greatly diminish our region’s ability to restart at the vibrant and impactful levels we are accustomed to.

ArtsWave is pleased to offer $100,000+ in two rounds of new relief funds to artists throughout the Cincinnati region. The 2021 Regional Artist Relief Fund will provide grants to as many as 100 performing and visual artists who live within the 15-county Greater Cincinnati MSA. This fund mirrors ArtsWave’s administration of $200,000 in CARES Act dollars from the City of Cincinnati to 107 city-based artists.

Now, thanks to new private sources, this next COVID-19 relief effort expands assistance to artists who live beyond the city to the 15-county greater Cincinnati MSA. Grants of $1,000 each can be used for living expenses or for adapting their craft or work product to be able to generate income during the health crisis.

The 2021 Regional Artist Relief Fund is made possible in part by a generous challenge grant of $50,000 from the Kent and Martha Savage Family Charitable Fund at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. That amount is matched by ArtsWave’s Board of Directors with the Arts Vibrancy Recovery Fund. In addition, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park donated proceeds from the finale of their “Journey BOREALIS” holiday light show to this initiative. Likewise, Cincinnati Art Museum is donating proceeds from their community engagement days in December and January to make even more grants available. Members of the public who would like to contribute to the Regional Artist Relief Fund can do so by making a special exhibition reservation on an upcoming Engagement Day at the Art Museum or make a direct contribution at artswave.org/artist.

The current grants will be awarded in two rounds based on proof of lost work and financial hardship. They will reflect the broadest possible range of diversity based on the pool of applicants. To be eligible, artists must earn at least 25% of their income through their art and must not have received funding in the prior round. The deadline to apply for the first round was January 12. The deadline for the second round is January 26.

Those interested in a Regional Artist Relief Fund grant can find eligibility guidelines and applications at artswave.org/apply.