As the art world is beginning to feel the economic effects wrought by museum and school closures and event cancelations related to coronavirus, one foundation said it would create an emergency fund to support artists. Anonymous Was a Woman, which has given more than $6 million in artist grants since 1996, will distribute $250,000 to at least 100 woman-identifying artists over 40 years old.
The unrestricted grants, which are being administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts, will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be distributed to anyone who can demonstrate that they have lost income as a result of the coronavirus outbreak any time between February 1 and July 30 and prove that they are a practicing artist. Each artist can receive up to $2,500 and apply through the NYFA website between April 6 and April 8.
The idea to create the emergency grant started around two weeks ago. “This is the first time I’ve expanded beyond our stated mission because this is such an unprecedented moment,” Susan Unterbeg, the founder of Anonymous Was a Woman, told ARTnews. “Many artists take many jobs to support themselves, these jobs were being cut, and artists needed help.”
Anonymous Was a Woman was established by Unterberg anonymously 24 years ago with the aim to support the careers of mid-career women artists over the age of 40 to recognize their accomplishments as artists and to support them to keep going. Each year the program gives 10 artists a total of $250,000, with the winners selected by a jury. Unterberg said the organization will still proceed with its regular grants to be announced in the fall.
Anonymous Was a Woman has a relationship with NYFA, a far bigger organization with nationwide greater prominence, and Unterberg felt she could leverage NYFA’s status to help get grant money to artists quickly. “We have a big voice, but we’re a small organization,” Unterberg said.
In a statement, NYFA’s executive director Michael L. Royce said, “This fund will not only provide much needed financial support for artists, but, just as importantly, it will be an incredible source of hope.”
Speaking more broadly about the current situation facing the world, Unterberg added, “I go through periods of really being sad and upset and being able to help. This gives me some kind of solace because people do need money, and if I can provide that, that’s great.”