Worcester Creative Relief Fund


Note: This application has been closed as of April 8, 2020. Additional resources for the creative community can be found on our Creative Community Resources page.

Announcing a new source of one-time funding for individuals working in the creative sector whose income has been negatively impacted by public safety measures surrounding COVID-19.

WORCESTER, MA – The Worcester Cultural Coalition, in partnership with the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, is addressing the acute and long-term needs of arts and culture workers and nonprofits, through a modest grant program.

The Worcester Creative Relief Fund will award grants in the amount of $500 to artists who live or work in Worcester and have had their creative practices and incomes adversely impacted by COVID-19. The Fund is designed to support Worcester artists of all types (visual, performing, design, etc.) 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.

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

“Arts and culture have long been an important component of life in Worcester and beyond. We’re proud to support our area’s vibrant culture in good times, and we have a responsibility to not just our creative sector, but to the community at large, to ensure the creative sector can survive these uncertain times,” Williams noted. “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!”

The Worcester Creative Relief Fund has been established to meet immediate needs for individual artists as defined below.  Applications will be accepted online until April 8 at 5pm. The Worcester Cultural Coalition will convene a panel to review applications and make recommendations. These efforts are in line with long-term plans to protect and support the creative sector in Worcester.

The Worcester Creative Relief Fund is focused on current loss of income, providing relief for artists who live or work in Worcester, with a limit of one grant awarded per applicant and priority given to lower-income artists. Worcester Arts Council 2020 grant recipients are not eligible for this award.

The Worcester Creative Relief Fund is open for, but not limited to, the following uses:

  • Recouping financial losses due to cancelled events, including but not limited to:
    • Performances in all performing arts discipline
    • Readings, panels, or speaking opportunities
    • Classes, workshops, or demonstrations
  • Reimbursement for creative work expenses which have already been paid, including but not limited to:
    • Cancelled conferences or convenings which cannot be refunded
    • Artist Residencies
    • Touring
  • Offset loss of income for teaching artists who experienced loss of income due to cancelled classes and/or school closures
  • Support for artists working full or part-time in the service industry who have lost supplemental income used to support their creative practices.

Application Cycle
Applications will be accepted from Wednesday, April 1 through Wednesday, April 8 at 5:00 p.m. The application may remain open, or reopen at a later time, if need remains and funds have not been exhausted.

Grant Award Criteria
Grants are one-time payments of $500. For an application to be considered, applicants must provide the following:

  • A 100-word summary of personal financial hardships due to COVID-19,
  • Evidence of lost opportunity/income due to COVID-19. This may be a cancelled contract or letter of validation from a local nonprofit/civic leader, venue host, employer or gig organizer. In leu of a formal contract, this may be in the form of an email from an authorized agent of the 3rd party,
  • A completed W9, and
  • Proof of residence, for example a recent utility bill, paycheck, or bank statement.

Complete applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2020 and can be submitted through Google Drive.

For questions or concerns, the public may contact the City of Worcester Cultural Development Office: culture@worcesterma.gov or 508-799-1400 x 31414.

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