An Update About the Artist Relief Fund

On Tuesday, April 7th, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, in partnership with the City of Providence’s Department of Art Culture + Tourism, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the Alliance of Artists Communities, opened the application for the Rhode Island Artist Relief Fund for arts and culture workers. Over the past three and a half weeks, we have received over 750 applications from people working in the arts across our state. On Friday, May 1st, we are temporarily closing applications to the fund.

The fund was initially seeded with $150,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Since launching the fund has received over $65,000 in private contributions. Together, we have awarded 418 small grants totaling $206,635.

These grants have supported artists across our state be able to afford their rent, utilities, health insurance, food, and other basic necessities, a huge need as other financial supports enacted at a federal and state level either did not extend to all freelancers and sole proprietors or there were delays or insurmountable barriers to access.

The fund’s partners understand the need is great and do not want artists and arts professionals spending their time and labor assembling requests when we know that we do not currently have available funds to grant.

We are committed to you. We know the value of your skills and talents, especially at this most challenging time. We will continue leveraging our platforms and engaging our networks to raise relief support and increase this fund. We will work to replenish the fund with additional monies, and hope to re-open applications in a few weeks.

If you have the means, we encourage you to donate to the Rhode Island Artist Relief Fund at https://www.artistcommunities.org/arf.

Over $840,000 in Federal Funds to Rhode Island for Arts & Humanities COVID-19 Relief

Rhode Island’s statewide arts and humanities agencies will receive $840,600 in federal funds designated for relief to arts and cultural organizations affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, according to a joint statement by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (Humanities Council).

The funds come from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, established in part to preserve jobs and help support organizations forced to close operations due to the spread of COVID-19.

RISCA will receive $424,300 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Humanities Council will receive $416,300 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Rhode Island’s share is part of the $150 million allocated to the federal cultural organizations through the CARES Act.

The Humanities Council and RISCA are committed to directly delivering these federal relief funds as quickly as possible to local nonprofit arts and humanities organizations serving Rhode Island communities. Application information and eligibility requirements are now available on the Humanities Council website, and will be available shortly on the RISCA website.

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, expressed thanks for the increased federal support. “Rhode Island’s arts and cultural organizations have been deeply affected by the current crisis,” said Rosenbaum. “The economic loss to arts organizations is estimated at over $4.5 billion nationwide. Here in Rhode Island the livelihood of a sector that contributes over $1 billion annually to our economy is being threatened.”

Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities noted that “This is a daunting and uncertain time, and humanities organizations have experienced unprecedented losses. The Humanities Council and RISCA were chosen to distribute these funds because of our well-established relationships with museums, historical societies, libraries, theaters, arts organizations, and cultural institutions that are anchors of our communities. One thing I am certain about is that these organizations will help Rhode Islanders understand and weather this crisis.”

Both Rosenbaum and Francis expressed gratitude to the state’s Congressional delegation. “This support from the NEH and NEA as part of the CARES act is thanks in large part to the sustained commitment by Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Representatives Langevin and Cicilline to the arts and humanities in Rhode Island.”

Quotes from Members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation

“Arts and culture have a big impact on Rhode Island’s economy and this federal funding will help save jobs and stabilize nonprofits.  We need the arts and humanities now more than ever, and I was pleased to help secure this funding in the CARES Act,” said Senator Reed.

“The arts and humanities are a vital part of Rhode Island’s economy, and they are a valuable resource for everyone,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Our vibrant local arts economy has taken a significant hit as venues close and events are postponed for everyone’s safety, so this federal funding will help the arts and humanities communities weather the pandemic.”

“With widespread disruptions and closures, the coronavirus outbreak has had a particularly devastating impact on the many amazing arts and cultural institutions that call Rhode Island home,” said Congressman Langevin. “We have to ensure that our creative economy and those who fuel it with their talent and hard work can weather this epidemic and come out stronger. This critical federal funding will help us in that mission.”

“Rhode Island’s arts and humanities community generates more than a billion dollars in economic activity and supports thousands of jobs in our state each year,” said Congressman Cicilline. “This new federal funding will help ensure that all Rhode Island continue to reap the benefits of the extraordinary artists who call our state home.”

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About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. Visit www.arts.ri.gov for more information.

About the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities

The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. As the only dedicated source of funding for public humanities in Rhode Island, we are proud to support museums, libraries, historic sites, schools, preservation and historical societies, community and cultural organizations, individual researchers and documentary filmmakers to bring Rhode Island’s stories to life and to amplify the state’s many diverse voices. A private nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, the Council is supported by federal funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as by individuals, corporations, and foundations. Visit www.rihumanities.org for more information.

Grant Support Options for EXTENDED April 15th Deadline


Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we are extending our April 1st Deadline to April 15th. RISCA Program Directors have added additional, virtual grant support options to assist you in completing your application.

One-on-One Virtual Meetings

  • Fellowships and Project Grants for Individuals: sign up for a time with Mollie Flanagan here.
  • Arts Access Grants: sign up for a time with Todd Trebour here.
  • Folk Arts Apprenticeships and Fellowships: email Elena Calderon Patino at elena.patino@arts.ri.gov to schedule a time.
  • Project Grants for Education: email Maggie Anderson at maggie.anderson@arts.ri.gov to schedule a time.
  • Project Grants in Healthcare: email Sherilyn Brown at sherilyn.brown@arts.ri.gov to schedule a time.

Drop-in Grant Support Hours

All drop-in grant support hours will happen via Zoom call. You can join by phone or internet browser.