Rapid relief reaches artists in communities across Vermont

Vermont Business Magazine From canceled performances, fairs and festivals, to closed galleries and shuttered theaters, the losses to Vermont artists as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic are staggering. But for artists in marginalized communities where the virus is hitting hardest, the losses have been particularly acute.
Rapid emergency relief funding from the Vermont Arts Council has tried to fill the gap, for artists in all communities.
Through its Rapid Response Artist Relief program, which closed May 13, more than $170,000 in relief grants of up to $450 have been awarded to more than 400 Vermont artists.
In addition, in partnership with the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), the Council also recently awarded special grants to the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and the Clemmons Family Farm. Both organizations have well-established networks in place to quickly deliver relief to artists connected with their communities.
The Clemmons Family Farm is a 148-acre historic farm and an arts and cultural nonprofit that coordinates a network of more than 160 artists throughout Vermont, all of whom are all ethnically or geographically connected with the African diaspora.
“Artists are among the many who face economic hardships during this pandemic and who need support. Black artists face an additional burden because they are among those who are the most vulnerable to the virus. Across the country, and in Vermont, African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 because of the underlying historic inequities,” said Clemmons Family Farm President Lydia Clemmons.
Along with the award from the Vermont Arts Council, the Clemmons Family Farm has mobilized additional funding to bring the total to $15,000 to distribute to black artists in Vermont.
Vermont artists of African descent can register and join the Clemmons Family Farm artist network at http://www.clemmonsfamilyfarm.org/artists-registry.html
The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) promotes regional indigenous arts, artists, and culture and supports a network of artists who share ideas, create cultural events and provide educational programming.
"The COVID-19 crisis has impacted Abenaki families due to the loss of income from art sales and the inability to present public programs. It has led to food insecurity, health issues, and difficulties with paying housing expenses. This grant will be distributed to artists who are struggling to make ends meet and it will enable them to buy food, medicine, and utility bills. In this time, we are also investigating how VAAA can contribute to the greater Vermont society through providing virtual programming,” said VAAA Director Vera Longtoe Sheehan.
Arts and culture are vital anchors for many of Vermont’s communities, providing more than 40,000 creative-sector jobs and comprising 9.3% of all employment in Vermont, higher than the national average.
The Council’s emergency funding for artists was made possible by a combination of private and public funds, including a $47,000 award from NEFA, more than $15,000 in individual donations, and a new philanthropic partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation.
“We’re grateful for the strong support of individual donors and the partnerships that have enabled us to respond quickly to the pandemic,” said Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman. “Vermont’s artists and cultural organizations are vital to our communities, and they need help now to weather this crisis.”
Direct grants to artists were the Council’s first response to the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Vermont’s creative sector. In partnership with Vermont Humanities, the Arts Council is also providing Cultural Relief Grants to organizations. These grants are funded primarily with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
The Council continues to accept direct donations to support grants to artists and arts organizations in their Covid-19 recovery. Donations can be made at https://www.vermontartscouncil.org/get-involved/giving
About the Vermont Arts Council
The Vermont Arts Council envisions a Vermont where all people have access to the arts and creativity in their lives, education, and communities. Engagement with the arts transforms individuals, connects us more deeply to each other, energizes the economy, and sustains the vibrant cultural landscape that makes Vermont a great place to live. Since 1965, the Council has been the state's primary provider of funding, advocacy, and information for the arts in Vermont.
MONTPELIER, VT—Learn more at vermontartscouncil.org