The COVID-19 pandemic has put staggering pressure on the arts and culture sector and artists in Cambridge. With strict guidelines to stem the spread of the virus, public gatherings were banned, venues closed, and performances, shows, events, classes and gigs were cancelled beginning mid-March. Artists are still losing income and will be into the foreseeable future. The Cambridge Community Foundation, in partnership with the City of Cambridge and its generous donors, addressed the urgent need of arts and culture nonprofits, artists, and performers by taking immediate action in March 2020, to deploy direct grants to artists and arts organizations through the Cambridge Artist Relief Fund.
Thanks to contributions of major supporters and more than 100 community donors, the Foundation awarded nearly $270,000 in one-time grants to 269 individual artists and groups and 36 arts organizations.In July, we reached a point where we had to close the fund.
The Foundation has long-term plans to protect the arts in our city including the creation of the Cultural Capital Fund, to strengthen and sustain our arts and culture ecosystem, foster creative placemaking with a focus on our cultural district, and invest in the next generation of Cambridge’s cultural creatives.
We express sincere gratitude for the leadership of the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Council on this issue.
The Fund grew quickly, thanks to key early contributions: $25,000 in seed funding from the Foundation; $75,000 from the City of Cambridge, $25,000 from New England Development, $25,000 from long-time Foundation donorsRosemarie and Steve Johnson; all followed by gifts big and small from hundreds more generous donors in the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hover over boxes to see answers.
Can individuals apply to the fund?
Yes. You do not have to be a 501c3 organization to apply. Individual artists or groups of creators can apply to the fund based on their needs.
How much money is available?
We’re giving grants of $200 up to $1,000 based on individual and organization’s needs. Our goal is to help as many as we can who are hurting in these uncertain times.
I would like to apply for funding. Are there any criteria we should be aware of? How do I apply?
Submit a 100-word summary of the hardships you are facing because of COVID-19; and provide evidence of lost opportunity/income from a cancelled contract or letter of validation from a local nonprofit/civic leader, venue host, employer, or gig organizer. The application form will be available on this page starting Monday, March 23.
A limited number of grants of up to $5,000 will be made available to Cambridge arts organizations that employ current artists and performers and/or train future ones.
When will funds become available?
We are looking to deploy this money immediately to offer relief. We will be providing grants on a rolling basis with the first allocations expected to be made as soon as possible.
If I’m a donor, why should I give to this fund? How is it different than others?
This is a fund that provides more flexible support to the celebrated artists and cultural traditions in Cambridge, by giving immediate grants to meet urgent need. The Foundation is alsobuilding a Cultural Capital Fund that will provide an endowment for transformational investments in the longer term. We invite your investments in both of these efforts. In addition, the Foundation will continue to make bi-yearly grants to arts and culture nonprofits through our Community Fund, providing ongoing support to the sector as well. We invite your support for the arts community in all of these funds.
How is this different than the Boston Artist Relief Fund?
The Cambridge Community Foundation applauds the thoughtful work of the City of Boston and their philanthropic partners on the establishment of the Boston Artist Relief Fund. We were fortunate to learn from their work and are in close coordination to ensure that we can complement their efforts by taking care of our Cambridge artists alongside their effort to assist Boston’s artistic community. Our effort will strategically amplify rather than duplicate available resources for the Cambridge arts community.
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About Cambridge Community Foundation
We are the local giving platform supporting shared prosperity, social equity and cultural richness, with roots that go a century deep.
Today, the Foundation supports more than 150 local nonprofits annually, conducts research and initiates cross-city conversations, and serves as a collaborative philanthropic partner to donors, nonprofits, businesses, and engaged citizens, helping to address community needs.