To support Los Angeles based performing artists who have been financially affected by cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs has created the Arts Emergency Relief Fund.
Through the Arts Emergency Relief Fund, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs will provide emergency relief grants for dancers, musicians, and theatre artists from the L.A. area. The grant is also applicable to small ensembles who have had their public performances, shows, or concerts canceled as a result of the pandemic.
“In alignment with other service organizations such as the Dance Resource Center offering comparable micro-grants of $350 to $400, DCA is using available funds and dividing them by estimated demand,” Joe Smoke, director of the Grants Administration Division at the Department of Cultural Affairs, said in a statement emailed to Intersections South L.A.
Solo artists are eligible for up to $400, and ensembles can receive as much as $1,200 to cover the time and materials they invested in these events. According to Smoke, both the number and size of these grants will be dependent upon how many eligible requests the DCA receives.
“Based on the number of eligible requests received, DCA may award a larger number of grants at lesser amounts, or a lesser number of grants at higher amounts,” Smoke said in the release.
To qualify for these relief grants, artists need to have canceled events that would have taken place at a venue in the city of Los Angeles and been open to the general public. Eligible events also had to have been publicly advertised and scheduled to take place between March 16 and May 16, and must have been canceled or postponed after Aug. 30. Artists who were set to perform at private functions with an invite-only audience are not eligible.
Dorian Baucum is a neo-soul artist and yoga enthusiast who has been bringing his Dorian’s Live Neosoul & Yoga events to the L.A. community for years. Baucum was set to perform before a large crowd at the Mammoth Yoga Festival this spring, but because of the pandemic, the event has been postponed and will take place Aug. 27-30.
Baucum said that being a performing artist during COVID-19 is difficult because so many of their performances involve large crowds, which isn’t possible when people are expected to follow social distancing protocol.
“The money depends and the energy of the shows depend upon (crowds),” Baucum said. “When that stops, there is no income and not only is there no income, the artist is not able to do the work that they do, especially when they rely upon that live energy.”
Baucum, who also works as a pharmacist, has been able to remain financially stable during the pandemic. However, he said that he knows many other artists who are not so fortunate and could benefit from the Arts Emergency Relief Fund.
Although Baucum cannot perform live at in-person events, he has continued teaching his neo-soul infused yoga classes online. Since going online, he has been able to reach more people and said he hopes to help people stay positive during this pandemic.
“My work and the importance of doing work is to entertain but also to uplift people and support them, regardless of what they may be going through in life,” Baucum said.
Round one of the DCA’s funding is focused on supporting artists and groups who were set to headline an entire public event, while future rounds will likely focus on categories of art such as literary and visual. In his statement, Smoke said that the DCA is currently working on plans for further rounds of grant funding.
“DCA is tentatively conceptualizing a second round for design, media, and visual artists, as well as a possible third-round for craft, traditional, and folk artists as additional resources become available,” Smoke said.
Cindy Shea, the leader of a mariachi group called Mariachi Divas, had bookings planned at Disneyland, Clippers games, and other venues around the country before nationwide cancellations were put in place.
“I have been trying to spread the word [about] these artist relief funds because $400 or even $200 makes a big difference,” Shea said. “That’s food on the table or an electricity bill.”
Like Baucum, Shea said that the stay-at-home orders have hit musicians especially hard because of the nature of their work.
“No matter how hard I work I can’t get gigs, and streaming doesn’t work because there are delays,” Shea said. “It’s also not the same because we feed off an audience.”
DCA will accept applications until approximately 450 eligible applications are received or until 11:59 p.m. on May 1. All applicants will be notified of their funding status before June.
Qualifying artists interested in a grant can apply here.