The Sundance Institute, including CEO/executive director Keri Putnam, founding director Michelle Satter, and newly installed director of the Sundance Film Festival Tabitha Jackson, have today announced the immediate formation of a $1 million emergency fund for artists and organizations affected by the current global pandemic. In a memo, the trio share that the situation “has cast a bright light on the importance of art” and has “also laid bare the vulnerability of independent artists, who are mostly freelance workers and often left out of the current support systems despite their cultural and economic impact.”
To help ease those impacts, the Sundance Institute has unveiled its new emergency fund, while also acknowledging that the group will “continue to work towards longer and sustainable solutions.” One-third of the fund will support Sundance Institute-curated artists (including 2020 spring and summer Sundance Lab participants), while two-thirds will be dedicated to emergency support for the wider community of independent artists, which Sundance will deploy in collaboration with partner nonprofit organizations.
Sundance has “joined an incredible group of arts organizations and leading national grantmakers who have partnered at this unprecedented moment to launch a cross-disciplinary, needs-based fund called Artist Relief that will distribute funds to artists as quickly and efficiently as possible.” The partnership with Artist Relief will provide experience and support to film, media, and theatre artists with emergency grants of $5,000.
Additionally, financial support will be given to “independent artist organizations focusing on historically underrepresented communities, to be deployed by these organizations both as regrants to artists and to strengthen the organizations themselves in their ongoing work.” Organizations will be nominated by peer organizations, funders, and artists, and the final selection will be made by the Institute and a panel of outside advisors. Per today’s announcement, those “applications will be evaluated on organizational impact and artist community reach.”
The emergency funds are a “first step” in the institute’s growing response to the pandemic. Putnam, Satter, and Jackson note that “there can be no return to business as usual. When history looks back, this will either be the moment when we invested in artists, making it possible to turn what we’re feeling during these scary and surreal times into powerful, lasting creative work — or it will be the moment we lost a generation of art and artists because we failed to support them when and how they most needed it. That’s why it is so urgent and essential to dig deep, even if it means making sacrifices, and act now to ensure that the world on the other side of the pandemic is one that’s full of art, storytelling, and vibrant, diverse perspectives.”