The Complete List of Emergency Funds/Grant for Visual Artists

A Complete List (Nearly) for Awards Supporting Visual Artists in Need

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Fine Art Emergency Fund Grant List for Visual Artists in Need

We’ve all been there as artists.  We need money to sustain our art, but all kinds of things can get in the way–in some cases catastrophic ones.  

But there is some help out there for visual artists who suffer a medical illness, a natural disaster, or a spell of bad luck. It works: I’ve won a few of the grants, and am grateful. Maybe you will find help too here.

Types of Grants For Visual Artists

Most are mostly modest (every bit helps, obviously!).  They are intended to address a specific issue–not change your life. Some are cash grants and are usually of about one or two thousand dollars.  Other grants pay funds directly to the third party (landlord, doctor, etc.) and could be for rent, mortgages, or medical expenses. These awards could range from a few thousand to $10,000 or so and could last for about six months. About half are one time only; the others are can be applied for more than once.

Application Process

The applications generally require a letter to briefly lay out out the request as well as a CV and images of your work.   Other ancillary information like bank accounts and tax returns are usually required  as well.  Response time can be mercifully swift from application submission, ranging from a few weeks to several months–but not six months or more like regular grants or artist residencies. Check each grant for specific deadlines as they might vary.

Sustainable Arts Foundation

Amount: $6,000
Who For: Award supporting artists and writers with families.
Deadline: February 26.

–Artist Statement
–Curriculum Vitae
–How I Would Use this Award
–Writers: 25 pages maximum.
–Poets: 10 poems, not to exceed 25 pages total
–Visual Artists: 10-20 images, highest resolution

Details and Notes: I’ve not applied for this award, but the Fine Art Emergency Fund Grant List Sustainable Arts Foundation is one of the few grants for those artists and writers with families.

The Haven Foundation (Won This)

Amount: About $10,000
Who For: Award supporting artists and writers.
Deadline: Rolling

–Letter detailing the reasons for the need of financial assistance.
–Signed copy of household’s IRS tax returns for last 3 years.
–Copies of medical expenses (doctors and hospital bills).
–CD or slides of current work.
–Resume, exhibition brochures, gallery affiliation, publisher(s), musical demonstration.

Details and Notes: Started by the writer Stephen King who was struck by a driver and nearly killed while taking a daily walk (thank you Mr. King), the Haven Foundation is for those dealing with a health crisis due to a recent illness or chronic condition due to a recent injury and where there is a question about being able to return to work. Grants are for one year and may be renewed for up to four more years. Payment is made, if possible, directly to landlord, mortgage holder or bank. Turn around response time is quick.

Mayer Foundation (Won This)

Amount: $2,500
Deadline: Rolling; review board meets quarterly.
Who For: Visual artists who need emergency money.

–General information and completed form.
–Description of the assistance needed, with goals and objectives.
–Category of need, such as disaster relief, low income, lack of financial resources, loss of employment, loss of property, or poor health.
–Financial statements and other proof.
–Plans on how to accomplish the goals and objectives, with timetable.
–How to evaluate success will be defined and measured
-Description of other partners or funding sources.

Details and Notes: The Mayer Foundation grant is for economic relief to needy artists who are distressed or suffering from poverty, low income or lack of financial resources.  This could be as a result of natural or civil disasters, or from temporary impoverishment, loss of employment, death or incapacity of a family wage earner or damage to home and property.  It can provide healthcare to those who cannot afford it or whose health insurance or financial resources are insufficient to cover their medical needs. This is worth applying for; many of my friends have won the Mayer Foundation grant.  

Artists Fellowship (Won This)

Amount: $2,500
Who For: Visual artists who need emergency money.
Deadline: Rolling

–Letter detailing the need of financial assistance.
–Signed copy of most current IRS tax return.
–Copies of supporting financial documents (i.e., doctor and/or hospital bills).
–10 CD or slides of current work.
–Resume, exhibition brochures, gallery affiliation, and copies of published reviews.

Details and Notes: Each year, 65 to 75 artists in urgent situations receive aid from the Artists Fellowship. Most of the emergencies funded involve health-related issues, accidents, financial crisis or bereavement.

One day, I received a letter in the mail from the Artists’ Fellowships, and since is was disarmingly thin, I was about to throw it out.  Instead, it contained a check for $5,000 from the Artists Fellowship!

Change, Inc.

PO Box 54
Captiva, FL 33924
(212) 473-3742
Amount: $1000
Who For: Visual artists.
Deadline: Rolling
Link: None

–Submission of a detailed letter describing the financial emergency.
–Copies of outstanding bills, medical fees, or estimates.
–Current financial statements.
–Career resume.
–Reviews, exhibition or performance announcements.
–Slides or photos of work.
–Two letters of reference from someone in affiliated field.

Details and Notes: Change Inc. provides one-time emergency grants up to $1,000 to artists of any discipline. This grant is a bit mysterious, however, since they don’t seem to have a website that supplies any additional information.

Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant

Amount: $15,000 maximum; $5,000 is typical.
Who For: Visual artists.
Deadline: Rolling; as they are received.
Who For: Grants for painting, sculpture or printmaking.

Details and Notes: To be eligible for the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant, artists needs to show they’ve been seriously active for ten years. The award is for interim financial assistance for unforeseen, catastrophic incidents, and who lack resources to meet that situation. Each grant is given as one-time for a specific emergency, such as due to fire, flood, or emergency medical need.

Max’s Kansas City

Amount: $500 to $1,000
Who For: New York State based visual artists.
Deadline: Rolling
Who For: Grants for painting or sculpture.

Details and Notes: Max’s Emergency Relief & Resource Fund is a one time only, $500.00 grant ($1,000 when funds are available) are for self employed artists who have a steady work history, but who are experiencing a temporary financial setback. Grant payment goes directly to creditor/third party and can be for medical bills but not psychotherapy.

Other Resources

In my experience, this is it.  There might be a few local grants for artists in need or ones that pop up during a sustained emergency (such as Hurricane Sandy).

Other things to consider are crowdsourcing like Kickstarter, but those are mostly for creation of work.

A fantastic resource is the New York Foundation for the Art (NYFA). They have one of the most complete lists of emergency grants as well as residencies for visual arts (note too they there is a much for extensive list of emergency grants for writers, poets, screenwriters, and playwrights).

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