The Arts Sector is Being Decimated by COVID-19. What Are Funders Doing in Response?

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from Inside Philanthropy

Mike Scutari | 23 March 2020

It’s only been a few weeks, but COVID-19 has already caused incalculable and potentially irreversible damage to the nonprofit arts world. Theaters are dark, museums are shuttered, work has dried up, and revenue has evaporated.

The good news—if there is any—is that funders are quickly ramping up efforts to help organizations and artists in need.

On March 20th, a broad consortium of funders, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched the $75 million NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund to support the city’s cultural and social services organizations. Other funders are loosening grant application restrictions, extending or waiving deadlines, and honoring commitments for events that won’t take place.

I reached out to funders, nonprofits and arts advocates, asking them how philanthropy can make the greatest impact in the present moment. Three key themes emerged. First, “donors are doing much of what we would hope for: asking institutions what they need,” said Melissa Cowley Wolf and Sean McManus of the advisory firm M + D.