BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Many of Baltimore’s artists suddenly lost their sources of income last month as museums, concert halls and bars were forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, several arts organizations are banding together to create a relief fund for artists affected by the pandemic.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts has set up the “Baltimore Artists Emergency Relief Fund,” a joint partnership effort designed to provide direct assistance to the city’s artists and entrepreneurs who have lost income due to COVID-19.

“If we don’t support them now, they’re not going to be there for us later. Artists are the ones with the life and the breath of the community. They give us life, they give us vitality,” said BOPA’s arts council director Jocquelyn Downs.

The fund started off with $20,000 but has since risen to $95,000. The group’s goal is to raise $125,000.

To help with immediate needs, the coalition is offering one-time grants of $500 to struggling individual artists in the city.

“We really want to support them and show that we see them,” Downs said.


Like many other communities, Baltimore’s arts community has been hit hard by the virus.

“I canceled about eight weeks worth of events,” spoken word artist Alanah Nichole said.

Gig after gig and paycheck after paycheck were canceled within a matter of days for reasons beyond anyone’s control.

“Many people all over the place rely on artists to relieve that stress,” Nichole said. “You go to bars and you hear the person in the corner playing the acoustic guitar, you go and see a show.”

The artists aren’t just artists — many have families to support.

“I’m a single mother. I have two children who are both out of school, so … you talk about canceling eight weeks of events but still having to support them with new technology for distance learning,” Nichole said.

To learn more about the fund or to apply for a grant, click here.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.


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