Worcester Creative Relief Fund Distributes $35,000 to Local Artists

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Seventy creative workers selected to receive assistance with lost income due to COVID-19.

WORCESTER, MA – Two weeks after the announcement of the Worcester Creative Relief Fund, 70 local individuals in the creative sector have been selected to receive $500 grants. The Worcester Cultural Coalition and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation established these grant funds to help supplement income the creative community has lost due to COVID-19.

“Many workers in the creative sector have been without work for a month or longer,” said Erin Williams, Executive Director of the Worcester Cultural Coalition. “Worcester understands the importance and power of arts and culture. It is essential to these workers, and to the sustainability of our local cultural economy, to distribute these funds as quickly as possible.”

A selection committee reviewed over a hundred applications in a matter of days. “There were many heartfelt stories of the challenges people in Worcester are facing, and we know the applications we received just scratch the surface of the real needs that exist locally and beyond,” said Barbara Fields, President & CEO of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

Worcester Creative Relief Fund grants in the amount of $500 have been awarded to artists who live or work in Worcester and have had their creative practices and incomes adversely impacted by COVID-19. The Fund was designed to support Worcester artists of all types who have been financially impacted by event/gig cancellations, the inability to exhibit their work/book shows, and/or have lost revenue from their day jobs being eliminated due to COVID-19. Grant recipients have been notified by email and payments will go out as soon as possible.

The Worcester Cultural Coalition has also established a repository of resources for the Creative Community at https://worcesterculture.org/creative-community-resources/. This page is updated regularly to include grant and low-interest loan opportunities, resources for individuals and nonprofits, impact surveys to gauge the needs of the cultural sector, and additional coverage of the state of the arts in the wake of COVID-19.

“In Worcester and across the world, workers in the arts and cultural sector already function on thin margins and have reported increasing pressure,” said Williams. Local, national, and international authorities have established strict guidelines in order to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of the coronavirus through banning large gatherings. These guidelines have resulted in the temporary closure of institutions and venues, and cancelled performances, shows, events, and classes. “These closures are having an unimaginable impact,” said Williams. Further, many artists supplement their incomes with part time jobs, often in the service industry, which has also been hit hard by these guidelines.

“An active embrace of art and culture has been a key driver of the ‘Worcester renaissance.’ Maintaining that momentum means supporting these individuals and institutions so they’ll thrive again once we can all enjoy them safely,” Fields explained.

“It has been inspiring to see our community transcend adversity, innovating how we can connect through an active embrace of creative arts and culture. Through these expressions, we’re engaging despite physical distance, which is a testament to the power of culture!” noted Williams.

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