Artist Emergency Fund Distribution


MEMPHIS - This week, ArtsMemphis and Music Export Memphis are distributing $77,190 to 159 artists across Shelby County in direct response to their establishment of the Artist Emergency Fund, made possible by a Community Foundation of Greater Memphis COVID-19 Regional Response Fund grant and compounded with generous gifts from the Assisi Foundation, Crosstown Arts, Hyde Family Foundation, and many individual donors to Music Export Memphis.

The Artist Emergency Fund, which became public April 1, supports artists of all types across music, visual art, film and media arts, literary art, theatre and dance.

“The Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund is a reflection of trusted relationships and a shared, immediate desire to provide relief to those hit the hardest in our community,” said Bob Fockler, President of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. “ArtsMemphis’ ability to, in short order, activate, aggregate and expedite funds to artists in three dozen zip codes is exactly how we intended this to work.”

“We are so proud to be a convener and conduit for Memphis’ cherished arts community,” said ArtsMemphis President & CEO Elizabeth Rouse. “This is what we do every day; we just don’t typically do this in a crisis. It’s an honor to play this role in every stage of an artist’s or organization’s trajectory, and we’re committed to helping them weather this storm. We of course couldn’t do any of this without the financial support of our donors and our partnership with Music Export Memphis.”

"Music Export Memphis has been funding individual musicians since 2016, so it made sense for us to stand in this gap and it equally made sense to join forces with our long-time partner and funder ArtsMemphis,” said Elizabeth Cawein, Executive Director of Music Export Memphis. “Aligning efforts in this way allowed us to simplify the application process, grow the pot of funding available to artist applicants by leveraging our supporter base, and ensure as equitable a process as possible for accessing relief."

In addition to individual touchpoints through the Artist Emergency Fund, ArtsMemphis deployed a community-wide survey on March 18, 2020 to arts organizations and individual artists across Shelby County to assess the impact of COVID-19. As of this week, 61 organizations and 200 individuals had completed the survey.

Survey data forecasts a total projected loss of income for March 2020 exceeding $1.19 million for organizations and $507K for individuals. Anticipated loss of income for April-June based on cancellations/postponements exceeds $7.4 million for organizations and $1.45 million for individuals. See full survey data here.

“Our role and responsibility remain to not only raise and redistribute funds but also proactively serve as the quantitative barometer of our arts community,” continued Rouse. “This data, coupled with these applications from artists across 38 zip codes and all genres, together make a case for continued support in this current situation and beyond.”

To support the ongoing need in Shelby County, the Kresge Foundation has stepped in with generous commitments of $100,000 to ArtsMemphis and $85,000 to Music Export Memphis to make continued Artist Emergency Fund granting possible.

“The Kresge Foundation is pleased to partner with ArtsMemphis and Music Export Memphis to support Memphis-area artists in response to the pandemic." said Regina R. Smith, Arts & Culture Managing Director, Kresge Foundation.

The application deadline for the next round of Artist Emergency Fund grants is April 22.  Among applications of all artistic genres, Music Export Memphis will continue to partner with ArtsMemphis in receipt, review and reallocation of funds to local musicians.

"In our first round of applicants we saw an average reported loss for musicians of more than $4,000, just for gigs canceled in March and early April,” continued Elizabeth Cawein. “The hit to music professionals who rely on live performance to make a living is truly catastrophic, and it's far from over. Music is a cultural and economic force for the city of Memphis, but that force is powered one musician at a time. We're grateful to Kresge for this tremendous contribution to our city's culture and the individuals who keep it alive."

Artists may learn more and apply here.

“The need is far greater than a one-time relief effort, and we know there are hundreds of artists we have yet to reach,” continued Elizabeth Rouse. “Our work is far from complete.”

ABOUT ARTSMEMPHIS. The mission of ArtsMemphis is to sustain Memphis’ world renowned cultural vitality and strengthen local communities through the arts. ArtsMemphis distributes $2.5 million annually to 70+ grantees, who collectively provide over 2.5 million annual art experiences. Learn more at

ABOUT MUSIC EXPORT MEMPHIS. The mission of Music Export Memphis is to create opportunities for Memphis musicians to showcase their music outside the city, driving tourism, talent attraction and economic development. Learn more at

Posted by Josie Ballin at 10:13
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