Just like every month, April 1 means rent is due. Yet San Antonio’s visual and performing artists, culinary workers, writers, musicians, freelancers, and workers in many other economic sectors have lost significant income and employment from cancelled events, exhibitions, gigs, and side hustles.

The federal stimulus package passed March 27 will offer some $300 million in needed relief for the arts and culture sector, but arts-focused organizations have already stepped up to mobilize resources, including emergency funds and information, for cultural workers affected by the coronavirus shutdown.

On March 18, the Department of Arts and Culture and Luminaria Artist Foundation announced their emergency Corona Arts Relief Fund. The department on Wednesday announced that due to “overwhelming response” the fund’s application deadline will be Friday, April 3, with a “pause” after that until demand can be met.

“The high number of applications received to date further confirms what we already knew, that there is a great need in our arts community,” said Kathy Armstrong, Luminaria executive director.

Two locally based organizations, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) and Blue Star Contemporary, started resources pages for artists.

NALAC provides a compilation of information primarily for artists of color, with links to emergency funding sources for independent artists and organizations. Blue Star offers links to unemployment assistance, organizational support, and other help, with a resources page for artists teaching at home, related to its exhibitions.

On the state level, the nonprofit advocacy organization Texas Cultural Trust (TCT) has compiled an extensive resources page for the entire cultural sector, intended to bring all pandemic-related resource links to one place. The page includes information on arts education, dance and theater, health and medical resources, literary arts, small business and organizational support, music, and other resources, including emergency funding for individuals and organizations, and tools for artists, performers, and teachers to connect online.

North Texas-based visual artists Ted Kincaid and Scotty Anderson have teamed with Houston-based online art magazine Glasstire to present the Pandemic Faire, a web-based curated art fair promoting Texas artists. Glasstire has also asked visual artists to submit videos for its Five-Minute Tours online exhibition series, and locally based UnfilteredSA is also compiling artist-submitted videos for virtual exhibitions.

National organizations also have responded. WomenArts has culled aid sources for artists in all disciplines, including for actors and musicians, and Anonymous Was a Woman has organized a COVID-19 emergency relief grant for woman artists over 40. Creative Capital has created a resources page, with online workshops and links to COVID-19 emergency funds. Americans for the Arts has mounted a survey to gauge the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the arts and culture sector nationwide. NALAC has also released a survey, seeking responses from its constituents.

Poets and Writers has created a resources page, including emergency funding for freelancers and published authors.

Many of San Antonio’s artists, performers, and writers find additional work in the city’s restaurants and bars, businesses that have been heavily impacted by closures. These workers also have options for emergency relief.

The James Beard Foundation has created the Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund “to provide critical financial assistance to small, independent restaurants … [to] keep from going out of business.”

The National Restaurant Association is offering a Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, and the website SupportRestaurants.org has launched its Dining Bond Initiative, to help get funds to restaurants during the shutdown, redeemable for face value at a later date.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering loans and a Paycheck Protection Program to help spur continued employment. The Common Field Network has created a Google document specifically for arts organizations to share information. The American Alliance of Museums has created a directory of resources, including information on online adaptations of programming and philanthropy.

Americans for the Arts also provides information for arts funders looking for ways to help the ailing community.

Heidi Marquez Smith, executive director of the Texas Cultural Trust, urged San Antonio nonprofit arts organizations to respond to the Americans for the Arts survey linked above, in order to build an accurate picture of the pandemic’s effects. The trust already collects data on the positive impact of the arts in Texas, and its regular work making the case to governmental leaders for the value of the arts is only heightened by the current crisis, she said.

“Now it’s equally important – extremely important – that we capture the negative impacts, the losses that we’re having in the art and culture community,” Smith said. “… That’s what drives change, that’s what drives policy.”

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Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...