Relief Fund Available for Local Artists | WCAI

Relief Fund Available for Local Artists

Apr 1, 2020

Artists and arts organizations, like so many others, have been scrambling to find ways to continue their work without the benefit of in-person interactions during this pandemic.

The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod has set up a new relief fund to help some of the artists who are struggling the most right now. So far it's been seeded with 10-thousand dollars, which will be broken into small grants. 

WCAI's Kathryn Eident talked with Arts Foundation Executive Director Julie Wake for an update on what's happening in the Cape arts scene and how this fund might help.

Eident First, tell us what you've been hearing. I know this has been a tough time for so many people, including local artists and arts organizations that have had to shut down.

Wake Yes, like so many, we saw an immediate closure of all of the cultural organizations which you can imagine rely on convening, ticket sales, performances. People that had spent weeks and weeks and years producing programing to have it just halt overnight. It's been devastating. And we were seeing, you know, major layoffs. We're also seeing some innovation where people are starting to think about what life is going to be like post pandemic.

Eident Wow. Tell us more about that.

Wake I think that financially that's going to be one of the biggest needs is to how do we get back up and running? And then, you know, psychologically, we really need to think about when is it going to be the right time to convene, you know, 200, 300, 400, 500 people in the same place. And our cultural leaders are thinking about that. We're having conversations about what does that look like? Do we have those solutions yet? No. There's no solution or one answer yet. But one of the things that I can tell you is that when there are trying times and enormous challenges ahead, you want to have an artist at the table talking these things out, because I have really learned a lot the past couple of weeks working with my fellow arts leaders who are true artists that also run organizations, but also are our artists themselves. And it's a really incredible perspective that they all offer. For example, like just approaching the work and how do we work virtually? And what's the priority and how do we get the word out in different ways and convening different people virtually. So I'm learning a lot.

Eident Julie, the Arts Foundation recently launched a relief fund. That is two pronged. I want to separate it out. Tell us about the first prong, which is focused on the here and now helping those who have been devastated by having to shut down.

Wake That's right. We're looking at the immediate need, which we've surveyed our members and our recent grantees and everything pointed towards: Please help the individual artist or the individual artist who's also a contractor such as, you know, art teachers, music teachers that had contracts with public school systems.

There was one teacher I spoke with who teaches special needs students and her contracts were just halted overnight. But we feel strongly our mission to look at that first phase of funding to support our individual artists. We want them to survive through this. You know, the money that we give is short money. But what we've heard from this community is that any bit of funding is what they need. At a certain point in time, we are going to start focusing on what does life look like post pandemic. And we want to use those the remainder of the funds to help our cultural organizations with resiliency funds and general operating funds like what can the arts foundation do to help support them to get back on track? That second phase, we're still in deep discussions in watching the news every day on what is this going to look like in a month or two months or six months from now?

Eident I imagine that plan is going to have to be flexible because each day we seem to wake up with new information. It's like a new world nearly every day.

Wake It is new every day. It's kind of unsettling. But one thing is for sure is that you can lean on the arts for staying connected. There is no way to stop people from producing art. This is incredibly challenging and a really sad, confusing time. But what we've seen during times that are challenging is that to grow and thrive.

Eident Sounds like in the coming weeks, the Arts Foundation will be helping artists connect with people online, get their art out there, and to help people process what's happening through their art.

Wake Yes, it's one of the pieces of the funding for the individual artists. We've asked them to let us know if they're doing any type of virtual outreach, producing art themselves that we can promote them. So they will get a little stipend from us. But we also want to help promote whatever they're doing. The other thing we're talking about is Cape Cod Virtual Arts Festival, a three day virtual arts festival that's going to happen mid-April. And we have some pretty, pretty interesting lineup of folks. So we're hoping that this helps build our fund to help the arts sector and also get the awareness out of what's happening here on the Cape, as well as Julie Wake of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod.

Eident Thanks so much for talking with us. Good luck with your efforts and stay healthy.

Wake Thank you for covering this. I really appreciate the time.

This transcript was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.