By Michelle Cole
Published on October 28, 2020
Covid-19 is messing with the Teaching Artist hustle.
Our profession thrives on togetherness and community. But right now, traveling artist-educators are considered safety risks solely because of the ubiquitous nature of our work. How are we supposed to do what we do during a time when separation is mandated? How can we hustle when it feels like our whole profession is on pause? It makes me wonder, are other Teaching Artists doing ok? Because I’m not. How will we survive this financially? I have suggestions.
Teaching Artists in all disciplines have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. The range of pandemic adjustments varies for each artist, from reduced hours to course conversion to furloughs. Teaching Artists have had to find ways to pivot to make ends meet. For some, this may have amounted to a career change. For others, it may look like a reconfiguration of teaching practice to remain relevant and adapt to this changing world. No matter the situation, we must remember who we are. We are adaptable, flexible, resilient, and creative in more ways than one. Knowing to pivot when necessary is a part of our job description. Despite the many challenges, teaching artistry is still alive and it is even more vital than ever. What we provide for communities is invaluable. Now, more than ever, it is time to utilize this virtual realm to take advantage of the available financial resources to supplement reduced or lost income so we can continue to provide for our communities.
Money isn’t the only way we’re being affected. Our physical, mental, and emotional health are also negatively impacted. I lost over 75% of my income. I work out – I’ll say – less (does walking back and forth from the kitchen in my pajamas count?). And I am feeling much more isolated- as many people can attest to experiencing. Teaching Artists know how isolating this profession can be, so having gatherings halted, reduced, or completely shut down can be that much more of a strain on both our mental and emotional well-being. We’re going through national ongoing extended trauma that has seen people slipping in and out of depressions and experiencing both anxiety and rising stress levels. Couple that with financial strain to get a recipe for a full breakdown.
But, before the spiral begins, there are solutions! I know the struggle; I experienced it firsthand. If you’re like me and happen to be an artist parent, then your pockets are probably quickly depleting from ravenous children incessantly eating/snacking at home. Times are hard with kids in the house 24/7, curing their boredom with food. So, I asked for help, I sought assistance, and I looked through so many websites to find solutions. These kids have to eat. I am allowing myself to be more vulnerable than I have ever been because this is not the time for pride and ego trips.
Allow me to share what I gathered and please take advantage. There are many funds, grants, and microgrants out there to provide financial relief for artists to help us navigate this unprecedented time. Below you will find a compiled list of the most current and applicable opportunities for teaching artists. This list is not comprehensive of all available emergency funds, nor is this a cure-all. But this may be able to hold us over until we can figure out how to recreate some semblance of stability.
Financial Resources for Teaching Artists
(October 2020: List reflects resources available as of October 28, 2020)
Artist Relief Fund
This fund has gone through seven (7) cycles of funding for artists. Two cycles remain. See the dates below.
One time, $5000 unrestricted grant for artists in need of financial assistance due to Covid-19’s impact.
There are two more rounds of applications in 2020:
Cycle VIII: October 22 – November 18 (closes 11:59pm ET)
Cycle IX: November 19 – December 10 (closes 11:59pm ET)
Tip: During the application process, be sure to provide as much detail as possible regarding the impact of Covid-19 on your financial struggles. Save your answers to the questions in a separate document or an e-mail so you can apply again for the next round, in case you don’t get it.
Arts Administrators of Color Network (AAC)
This microgrant is ongoing. No specified end date.
$200 microgrant for US-based BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists and administrators
Tip: If you have a website, update it. If not, be sure to have a web link for your CV/résumé or a contract to show artistic engagement.
Red Bull Arts Microgrant
This application is open on a rolling basis. No specified end date.
$1000 microgrant for artists (and groups) 18+
Award is given to two (2) individuals each month.
Tip: Be detailed about both your ‘artist statement’ and ‘statement of purpose.’ Why do you need this grant money? How will you use it? Distinguish yourself from others. NYC is jam-packed with dope struggling artists.
Max’s Emergency Relief & Resource Fund
This application is open on a rolling basis. No specified end date.
A one-time grant of between $500-$1000 for a specific bill (housing, legal, medical)
Applicants should be self-employed artists who have a steady work history but experiencing a temporary financial setback.
Money is sent directly to the third party, not the individual.
Apply Here (Download Application)
Tip: Be specific about how you will use the awarded money. It is a requirement to send applications by snail mail. This application process is extensive.
The Arts in Education Roundtable has plenty of resources for artists such as financial assistance, professional development, emotional and mental well-being, and more. Click here to find out more about it on their resource page.
Also, check out the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), and Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) for additional resources and other compiled lists.
I hope this helps to alleviate some of the financial stress. We may be experiencing financial hardship, but we’ll get through this together. Hopefully, this will further ignite Teaching Artists to advocacy so we can establish a union and better protect ourselves in the future. In the meantime, apply for what you can and share this with an artist friend-in-need. Many of these funds are also accepting donations, so if you are someone or know someone that has the means, please consider donating to a fund that supports Teaching Artists right now. We can really use it. Take care of yourself and remember who we are. The hustle will return.
Michelle Cole, is an educator, choreographer, and dancer. She received her Master’s degree in Dance Education from New York University, Steinhardt and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida International University’s Honors College. In 2019, she began her own dance teaching company, Dance Culture LLC, to conduct independent dance residencies at universities, public, private, and independent schools throughout NYC. Michelle became an adjunct faculty member of NYU in 2015, she currently teaches Afro-Caribbean and Hip-Hop Dance. As a choreographer and performer, Michelle has presented and performed in New York, Chicago, Miami, Martha’s Vineyard, Kampala, Uganda and more. She is a member of the Teaching Artist Affairs committee through the Arts in Education Roundtable and an advocate for dance education, social justice, dances of the African diaspora and culturally integrated dance pedagogy.