Resources for Artists, Freelancers, and Creatives during COVID-19 Crisis

Jasmine Wilson | April 9, 2020

Updated July 15:
Governor Cuomo announced the COVID Rent Relief Program emergency assistance program which will provide direct aid for tenants who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The application period starts July 16, and will only be open for two weeks. More information, including qualifications and Frequently Asked Questions, is available, here.

A coalition of national arts grantmakers have launched Artist Relief, which will provide rapid, unrestricted $5,000 relief grants to assist artists and writers facing dire financial emergencies due to the impact of COVID-19. Grant applications opened April 8 at; see site for application requirements.

What would New York City be without the arts? From impromptu “showtimes” during our commutes, to the glamour of Broadway – creativity runs through the arteries of the city that never sleeps. Whether New York natives or transplants, we have the unique privilege of having some of the most talented artists as neighbors.

If you’re not an artist or performer, you likely know one who likely has plenty of other jobs as a freelancer. After rehearsal, dancers become fitness instructors. Between auditions, actors wait tables or tend bar at your favorite hangouts. Visual artists guide novices through sip-and-paint classes. Some artists may even help nanny our children.

Unfortunately, many in the arts industry – who are also part of the “gig economy” – have been hit hard by the preventative measures taken to combat COVID-19. They have lost significant income, as their events are cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Many freelancers and self-employed workers in the gig economy do not qualify for unemployment benefits.

In this time of crisis, we’ve compiled a list of emergency resources for artists, freelancers, and creatives. Please share this post with those who are in need at this time. And thanks for adding any useful tips or resources in the comments!

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Emergency Funds


Filing for unemployment on New York State Labor Department’s website right now is so cumbersome, and the system so overloaded, that Governor Cuomo said, “The IT consultants can’t even figure out how to handle the volume.” Robert Griswold, laid off from a dog day care business, has generously shared important tips and hacks to file online for unemployment The Queens Daily Eagle, including what browser to use.


Health and Mental Health

Additional Resources

Chasing the Dream, a PBS project that covers poverty and opportunity in America, offers additional information in its COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide: What You Need to Know, How to Get Help, and How to Give Help.

Surveys on Impact

Nonprofits and city agencies are gauging the needs of communities right now through the use of surveys. If we’ve missed any related to the arts, please share in the comments.