Artists are at the heart of every community. The problem these days is that those communities have, for the time being, been put on hold. Like many others, artists are feeling the devastating effects of COVID-19. In fact, according to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, two-thirds of the nation’s artists are now unemployed.
Luckily, several artists from Westchester were recently “granted” a small relief. They were the first recipients of funds from ArtsWestchester’s Artist Relief Fund. The GoFundMe campaign organized by ArtsWestchester offers new grants to Westchester artists whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the current pandemic. Recipients in this first round of grants are mixed-media artist Rukhshan Haque (Yonkers), photographer Margaret Fox (Sleepy Hollow), jazz pianist Hiroshi Yamazaki (Tarrytown), ceramic artist and teacher Logan Wall (White Plains), musician and dancer Gina Bergamini (Mt. Kisco), contemporary dancer Sidra Bell (White Plains), painter Jacqueline Meier (Mamaroneck) and photographer Hubert Williams (Mt. Vernon).
ArtsWestchester will continue collecting donations indefinitely and distributing funds to artists on a first-come, first-serve basis. As more funds – every $500, to be exact – are donated to the Artist Relief Fund, new grants will be awarded to artists whose gigs have been canceled, whose residencies have been postponed due to school closures, and whose dance shoes have had to be packed away. Similar cancellations have taken place across the country. Nationally, the nonprofit arts industry has seen a loss of $5.5 billion as of mid-May. To read more about, or contribute to the Artist Relief Fund, click here.
A version of this article first appeared in the June issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.