Hey, Artists! Pandemic Relief Funds Available From Cuyahoga County

The Brazilian-born Cleveland musician plays his guitar at an outdoors concert.
Moises Borges is applying for money from the county through Arts Cleveland. [Moises Borges]
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Local painters, performers and other individual artists have a little over a week to submit applications for a new pool of pandemic relief funding.

Moises Borges has built a local reputation entertaining audiences with the soft stylings of his Brazilian jazz sounds. Soon after the pandemic shutdown choked off performance possibilities in March, he applied for any musician relief opportunities he could find.

Most of them were overwhelmed with the amount of people that were submitting,” he said. “They were getting one hundred, two hundred thousand applications and they could only grant a few hundred.”

Printmaker Karen Beckwith thinks it can be tough for individual artists to keep up with the few opportunities that are available.

“I don't know how much it's getting disseminated out to the folks that need it,” she said. “You know, I’m real clear about telling friends of mine here. I'll email my friends back: ‘Hey, have you heard about this opportunity, or hey, are you checking this?’”

During this time of economic crisis, the information clearinghouse Arts Cleveland has served as a resource, continually updating support opportunities and convening monthly conference calls.

Most recently, it’s become the conduit for a pool of COVID relief funds from Cuyahoga County. A sum of $1.3 million is designated to support artists as well as for-profit performing arts venues. Both Borges and Beckwith attended a recent Arts Cleveland online information session which explained the application process and answered questions.

The eligibility requirements include, residing in Cuyahoga County. The artist has to document earning an income from a creative discipline, such as craft, music, theater or photography prior to March 1 of this year. And they should also be able to prove the loss of income after March 1. The maximum potential award for any one artist is $2,500. Applications are due November 22.

Moises Borges said he’ll shoot for the top amount, though he realizes that may not be possible.

“I cannot expect it,” he said. “That money will be split among all of us, all of them that apply. And if there is a lot of applications, then everybody should get a cut of it, you know, as much as they can.”

He figures the money would cover him for a month or two, and maybe help him upgrade his computer so that he can do more home recording. Karen Beckwith says the funds would buy some time for her and her partner.

“For me, honestly, right now, it's paying the mortgage and keeping the lights on, you know,” she said. “We're looking at basic survival at the moment.

Karen Beckwith with one of her fine art prints [Karen Beckwith]

Beckwith has spent the last three years as an independent artist, after working as a technical specialist and master printmaker at the Cleveland Institute of Art. After 13 years of helping others with their work, it was time to make her own. Of course, she couldn’t predict the pandemic that would turn everybody’s life upside down. But she hasn’t given up yet.

“This is not an easy road, but I couldn't imagine doing anything else,” she said.

Here's how to apply for the funds.


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