Organizations offer grants to artists after storm

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  Arts organizations from around the city and the nation are swiftly responding to the needs of artists affected by Hurricane Sandy by making available emergency funding sources similar to those tailored to damaged businesses.

The main difference between these funds and most business-related funding, though, is that the arts organizations are offering grants rather than loans — the grants don’t need to be paid back, and they’re generally given in much smaller amounts.

Large nonprofits — ones that aren’t involved in actually giving the grants but that have massive networks of contacts — are aggressively reaching out to the many artists in Downtown, Brooklyn and other affected tri-state areas to inform them of what could be career-saving funding, and to encourage them to apply.

For the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (L.M.C.C.), that outreach effort to Downtown artists began earlier this week, even as the 40-year-old organization remains displaced from its base on Maiden Lane.

The L.M.C.C. building, at 125 Maiden Lane near Pearl Street, sustained extremely heavy flood damage from the storm, according to Kay Takeda, the organization’s director of grants and services. Takeda said it’s unclear when the nonprofit — which provides a wide range of year-round services — will be able to return home, as the extent of the damage is still being assessed.

She explained, though, that in the meantime one of the L.M.C.C.’s primary missions will be to connect artists with storm-related grants that accurately match their needs and qualifications.

“We have a huge list of artists who sign up with us, and we just sent out an e-mail to everyone,” Takeda said. “We’re one of a number of arts organizations that have been doing that. We’re all just trying to share the information.”

The New York Foundation for the Arts, a statewide group that has provided financial aid and other services for just over 40 years, has taken a similar, network-based approach. N.Y.F.A., which is based in Brooklyn’s DUMBO, also faced some displacement issues after the storm, and executive director Michael Royce announced on Mon., Nov. 5 that the organization had returned to its home offices that day — nearly a week after Sandy plowed through the East Coast.

Between the two organizations and the e-mails they sent out to members, the list of possible funding sources is certainly expansive, and it has options for artists of virtually any discipline.

Downtown-based groups that are currently offering emergency grants include the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, which provides funding to visual artists; The Artists’ Fellowship, which offers financial backing to painters, graphic artists, printmakers and sculptors; and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, which offers aid to avant-garde artists of various disciplines.

Additionally, the PEN American Center, which has a national reach but is based in Soho, supplies emergency grants to authors through its PEN Writers’ Fund.

N.Y.F.A. is also encouraging artists across the city to fill out its new post-storm survey, which will allow the organization to better understand the damages experienced by the arts community, according to Royce.

Artists who wish to take the N.Y.F.A. survey should visit surveymonkey.com/s/HurricaneSandyRecovery. For more information and for a complete lists of sources of emergency grants for artists, visit lmcc.net or nyfa.org.

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