Individual artists and coalitions of artists are taking action in amazing ways right now. But--shocked by the ungenerous and downright unethical actions taken by some art _institutions_ lately? Do you wonder why institutions with tremendous resources don't seem to want to share? Me too. So, to combat this depressing landscape, I'm gathering here a random sampling of the really GREAT actions that some arts organizations have been taking, as an inspiration and a guide for institutions in the arts and beyond, for this time, and forever. Let's use these model models to change the landscape of what it means to be in the arts, and let's use our flexibility as arts organizations to act as models for other kinds of institutions and entities in the rest of culture and society. EDIT: Please note that some of these organizations didn't necessarily follow through with the actions they stated, or had other internal politics that made their actions and intentions questionable, but I believe that most of the ideas detailed here are conceptually sound.
This spreadsheet was begun by Clarinda Mac Low, originally inspired by Facebook posts by Kemi Ilesanmi. It is currently in no particular order, and is a thoroughly unscientific random sampling of reseach. Please ADD TO IT by commenting on an empty cell with the institution, its action, and a source for your statement. Also please comment with any other thoughts you might have!
OrganizationMission/RoleActions Taken During the COVID-19 CrisisSource(s)Quotes
ICA BostonThe primary activities of the ICA are threefold:
To present outstanding contemporary art in all media, including visual art exhibitions, music, film, video, and performance, that is deserving of public attention and has not been presented in depth to Boston audiences
To provide innovative experiential learning opportunities for people of all ages through direct encounters with artists and art-making
To design interpretative programs that provide context for, develop appreciation of, and add meaning to contemporary art and culture. Admission at the main ICA is $15, free for members.
The ICA Watershed, a satellite of ICA Boston, was set to open in May. Instead, the Watershed has been transformed into a temporary distribution hub for fresh produce, for the residents of East Boston until September 3, 2020. According to ICA director Jill Medvedow, Kelly Gifford, the museum's director of public engagement and Monica Garza, the education director, contacted six community organizations they've partnered with in the past, and asked how the ICA could help. When they found out about the need for fresh food, they called the museum's catering company, the Catered Affair, and the president of the company, Holly Safford, joined in.
The Laundromat ProjectFrom the mission statement: The Laundromat Project advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities. We envision a world in which artists and neighbors in communities of color work together to unleash the power of creativity to transform lives. We make sustained investments in growing a community of multiracial, multigenerational, and multidisciplinary artists and neighbors committed to societal change by supporting their artmaking, community building, and leadership development.
- Began the Creative Action Fund, to fund micro-commissions for all their Create Change alumni (aritst of color working in communities of color)
- Continued to support the vulnerable artists and communities already being supported
- Compiled a list of COVID-19 Community Resources
- Retained all staff
Asian Art MuseumLocated in San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum is "home to one of the world’s finest collections of Asian art." They seek to "make Asian art and culture essential to everyone, and their mission is to "inspire new ways of thinking by connecting diverse communities to historical and contemporary Asian art and culture through our world-class collection, exhibitions and programs."The Asian Art Museum had not, as of May 12, laid off any staff members (full-time, part-time, or contractual), including those in education. Even with some financial losses. The museum leadership has chosen to expand digital content, offering art activities, cooking demos, and looks behind the scenes of the museum. “Engagement on social media platforms has increased by more than 50%, with Instagram activity soaring 744% since shelter-in-place took effect in mid-March.”
DreamyardDreamYard collaborates with Bronx youth, families and schools to build pathways to equity and opportunity through the arts. DreamYard programs develop artistic voice, nurture young peoples’ desire to make change and cultivate the skills necessary to reach positive goals. We believe that young people in the Bronx need a continuous set of supports to help them towards positive outcomes as they navigate their educational pathway. We have every expectation that through offering sustained and meaningful supports our youth will develop the necessary tools to become creative and engaged citizens, life-long learners and the leaders and innovators of the 21st century.
Actions under 4 main categories: 1. Community Need: Distributing free meals to community members at the DreamYard Art Center; distributing Chromebooks to partner schools in the Bronx in collaboration with Google, Fjord, the NYC Dept. of Education as well as community-based organizations. 2. Connectivity & Teaching: Shifted our in-school and out-of-school arts programs online. 3. Advocacy: Launched the Bronx Community Relief Effort, in partnership with community leaders in the Bronx, which focuses on essential needs of the Bronx community—including small business relief, micro-grants, equity and justice, PPE, and housing stability, as well as advocating for immediate release of FY2019 and FY2020 New York State budgeted and registered contract funds and the continuation of the Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEP). 4. Resources: Actively updating a community resource page with Bronx-specific information on education, mutual aid, food, internet access, etc., and holding virutal community events as well. Also: a clear statement on the pandemic that acknowledges vulrnerable people and the necessity of vigilance against amplifying existing inequity. + "We firmly reject sinophobia, xenophobia and racism. Anti-Asian racism, violence and discrimination rooted in white supremacy and anti-black racism have been exacerbated by COVID-19. We believe in the importance of building solidarity across race & different identities, knowing that we are fighting for ALL of our liberation."
Mark Morris Dance Group + Dance/NYCThe mission of the Mark Morris Dance Group is to develop, promote, and sustain dance, music, and opera productions by Mark Morris and to serve as a cultural resource to engage and enrich the community.As of 4/21/20--Mark Morris Dance Center is one of several hubs distributing meals prepared by Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen as part of the charity’s COVID-19 relief efforts, are first-come-first-served and free for residents, artists, families and health care workers. Please note: Some organizations have had big questions about World Central Kitchen, and several have severed ties with the organization. From La Morada website: "Because of our political difference, we have ended our collaboration with World Central Kitchen. We mention political differences because in our relationship with World Central Kitchen (WCK) these were challenged to the point where we knew we needed to end our partnership. We were already struggling in our work with WCK due to distribution, pay, accessibility issues and ties with gentrifying forces when we found that they had worked with ICE during their aid work in Puerto Rico in 2017, and openly praised DHS police as allies in times of crisis then."
The Museum of the Moving ImageMuseum of the Moving Image advances the understanding, enjoyment, and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media by presenting exhibitions, education programs, significant moving-image works, and interpretive programs, and collecting and preserving moving-image related artifacts. As of 5/15/20: Also a hub for the World Central Kitchen meal distribution for local Queens residents. Monday–Friday, 12:00–3:00 p.m. (or until meals are no longer available) Please note: Some organizations have had big questions about World Central Kitchen, and several have severed ties with the organization. From La Morada website: "Because of our political difference, we have ended our collaboration with World Central Kitchen. We mention political differences because in our relationship with World Central Kitchen (WCK) these were challenged to the point where we knew we needed to end our partnership. We were already struggling in our work with WCK due to distribution, pay, accessibility issues and ties with gentrifying forces when we found that they had worked with ICE during their aid work in Puerto Rico in 2017, and openly praised DHS police as allies in times of crisis then." + their website
Staten Island Arts + La ColmenaStaten Island Arts cultivates a sustainable and diverse cultural community for the people of Staten Island by:
• Making the arts accessible to every member of the community.
• Supporting and building recognition for artistic achievement.
• Providing artists, organizations, and arts educators the technical, financial and social resources to encourage cultural production. La Colmena is a community-based organization working with day laborers, domestic workers, and other low-wage immigrant workers in Staten Island through organizing, education, culture, and equitable economic development.
SI Arts and La Colmena working together to distribute for the World Central Kitchen meals, from La Colmena premises. SI Arts also has a comprehensive list of local resources Please note: Some organizations have had big questions about World Central Kitchen, and several have severed ties with the organization. From La Morada website: "Because of our political difference, we have ended our collaboration with World Central Kitchen. We mention political differences because in our relationship with World Central Kitchen (WCK) these were challenged to the point where we knew we needed to end our partnership. We were already struggling in our work with WCK due to distribution, pay, accessibility issues and ties with gentrifying forces when we found that they had worked with ICE during their aid work in Puerto Rico in 2017, and openly praised DHS police as allies in times of crisis then." + their website(s)
Abrons Arts Center [Henry Street Settlement]Abrons Arts Center is a home for contemporary interdisciplinary arts in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. A core program of the Henry Street Settlement, Abrons believes that access to the arts is essential to a free and healthy society. Through performance presentations, exhibitions, education programs, and residencies, Abrons mobilizes communities with the transformative power of art.4/13/20 Abrons launched the Abrons Arts Center and Henry Street Settlement Artist Community Relief Fund, micro-grants providing direct cash assistance to local Lower East Side and Chinatown-based artists and arts workers whose income has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also:
-- Expedited and paid all remaining commissions to 2019/20 season artists, and provided artists whose shows were postponed with “postponement fees” thatwere near-equal to their artist box office fee.
-- Honored all fees paid to AIRspace artists-in-residence, and extended their residencies to next year.
-- Continued to pay all teaching artist contracts even when teachers aren’t able to teach and implemented online teaching to continue providing education and to provide employment to teaching artists.
-- Paid all contracts to tech workers who were directly affected by Abrons show cancellations.
-- Uploaded all of our past content/videos online and provided links to the artists’ Paypal and booking contact information. Also highlighting different artists each week and promoting direct support to artists.
-- Established a resource page that is updated daily.
Dance/NYCDance/NYC's mission is to promote the knowledge, appreciation, practice, and performance of dance in the metropolitan New York City area. It embeds values of justice, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of the organization. It works in alliance with Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.Dance/NYC
-- launched a visibility campaign for dance workers
-- wrote a letter to Mayor de Blasio to insist that dancers and the dance community are included in any post-pandemic action.
-- is curating a series of public conversations with arts workers to discuss challenges, offer considerations and envision a way forward.
-- launched a Coronavirus Dance Relief Fund
Patricia and Philip Frost Art Museum at FIUThe Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum's mission is to provide transformative experiences through art; collect, exhibit, and interpret art across cultures; and advance FIU’s stature as a top tier research university.Created art care packages for Dr. Carlos Finlay Elementary School and West Kendall Baptist Hospital, partner organizations of the museum. The museum put together art activity packets for a group of Finlay students identified by school’s staff as being in need of supplies and each received an art care package with various art-making supplies inside: safety scissors, paint sticks, paper, felt fabric, glue, markers, crayons, decorative accessories and more. Art kits were also distributed to West Kendall Baptist hospital staff in celebration of National Hospital Week (May 10-16). The newsletter says there will also be a call to action on social media for area families in need of art supplies, who can message the museum to receive a care package. The FIU Newsletter + evidence on social media
JACKJACK is a 50-seat performance venue led by Alec Duffy and Jordana De La Cruz. Duffy founded JACK in 2012 in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn with several co-founders. JACK presents 200 theater, music and dance performances and holds community forums on racial justice, gentrification, and police/community relations. JACK's mission is to fuel experiments in art and activism, collaborating with adventurous artists and our neighbors to bring about a just and vibrant society. Building on the work the have been doing around providing a space for dialogue and action towards racial justice, JACK has partnered with the mutual aid group We Keep Us Safe Abolitionist Network to transform the space into a hub for the food distribution in the neighborhood. Every week, 120 individuals and families in the area will receive food assistance as part of this effort. Their aim is "to address the lack of support and resources provided to the economically-disadvantaged Black and Brown members of our community. This assistance is critical, as these populations disproportionately represent the front-line workers suffering most from the virus."
Blanton Museum of ArtThe Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin is has the most comprehensive collection of art in Central Texas. The Blanton has a permanent collection of more than 19,000 works, including European paintings, an encyclopedic collection of prints and drawings, and modern and contemporary American and Latin American art.Retained all current staff through a creative and practical re-aligning of mission and services, after carefully assessing existing budget. This included a staff-wide survey of dream projects. After gathering 30 projects, there wasn another staff-wide curvey for relevant skills and abilities. This included uncovering unexpected talents, and allowing people to stretch beyond their normal specialties. (paywall)"Whatever the public thinks a museum may be, it is, above all, a collection of people: curators, teachers, accountants, marketers, designers, retailers, carpenters--individuals from all walks of life."
The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA)The mission of the Oakland Museum of California is to inspire all Californians to create a more vibrant future for themselves and their communities. The collection brings together art, history, and natural sciences to "celebrate the many facets of California." The collections include art works, historical artifacts, ethnographic objects, natural specimens, and photographs. Their programs "explore and reveal the factors that shape California character." The museum is cutting “non-essential expenses,” such as program costs, for the rest of the fiscal year, and reducing hours for 106 full-time staff members so that they can keep 44 part-time employees employed, and avoid layoffs, and reducing compensation for the executive team. Staff will continue to receive benefits including health insurance, paid sick leave and retirement contributions. Fogarty, director of OMCA: “I worry the inequity we see in society at large is mirrored in cultural organizations. We’re trying in our small way to mitigate that.”
The Marshall Fredericks Sculpture MuseumThe Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is a public museum located at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and features "a unique collection of more than two thousand objects that span the 70-year career of Detroit-based public sculptor Marshall M. Fredericks (1908-1998). He is known nationally and internationally for his impressive monumental figurative sculpture, public memorials, fountains, portraits, and medals." Admission is free.According to a recdent press release, the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum is offering Take & Make art activity kits for local community members. The kits include various art supplies, such as a museum sticker, instructions, modeling clay, string and popsicle sticks. The museum originally offered online activities as part of an Arts@Home inititative, but when it realized that many families didn't have internet access, it started offering the physcial kits.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical GardenSnug Harbor, in Staten Island, NY, brings together history, architecture, visual and performing arts, gardens, agriculture, and education come together and provide dynamic experiences for all ages. The adapted buildings hold exhibitions on historical subjects and contemporary art and hold one of the oldest concert halls in New York City. There are fourteen botanical gardens on the site, as well as the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Snug Harbor Artist Residency Program (SHARP), Staten Island Museum, Staten Island Children’s Museum, Noble Maritime Collection, Art Lab, Children’s Harbor Montessori School, and Staten Island Conservatory of Music. Snug Harbor is facilitating a drive-through testing site operated by One Medical, is expected to be operational through June 1, 2020. The testing site will be kept isolated from regular foot and vehicular traffic on the Snug Harbor campus. The testing site will serve the general public, as well as Frontline 1199 Home Healthcare workers, essential workers and other vulnerable populations, including adult care employees or those who work with people with disabilities, and NYC residents who are 65 and older with preexisting conditions.
Culture PushCulture Push is an arts organization that creates programs to nurture artists and other creative people who are approaching common problems through hands-on civic participation and imaginative problem-solving. The mission of Culture Push is to encourage an exchange of ideas between many different communities; artists and non-artists, professional practitioners and laypeople, across generations, neighborhoods, and cultures. Culture Push supports the process of creating new modes of thinking and doing and serves a diverse community of creative people. The programs of Culture Push focus on collaboration and group learning through active, participatory experiences. Culture Push programs appear in many different locations, taking many different forms, and public presentations are low-cost or free, to give access to the widest audience.Culture Push has retained (or added) all staff, and is working with existing affilated artists to adapt projects to respond to the current circumstances, as well as shifting focus to make sure that all currently affiliated artists are supported as much as possible, financially and otherwise. Culture Push is also acting as a fiscal sponsor for several emergency fundraisers initiated by individuals and collectives, including The NYC Low-Income Freelancers/Artist Relief Fund, The Dance Union's NYC Dancer's Relief Fund [COVID-19], and the North Bronx Collective
Brooklyn MuseumOpening up to become a food distribution center. More to come soon!hearsay
PLG ArtsPLG Arts promotes arts, supports local artists, sponsors events, and builds community through celebrating the vibrant creativity of the residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods.PLG Arts is providing the information below for artists in all media who are in need of support in this difficult time.

The New York Foundation for the Arts is an organization that often receives calls from artists requesting information on emergency grants to serve financial need or an emergency such as bereavement or illness. For artists experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 or for other reasons, some of them may be of help. Please check the organizations’ websites or call to get the latest programmatic information and eligibility requirements. The page has discipline-specific resources with some specific to NYC.
More ArtMore Art is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports collaborations between professional artists and communities to create public art and educational programs that inspire social justice.According to More Art's homepage, they're putting a hold on their 2020 public programs indefinitly and may be releasing virtual programs and opportunities. The organization has also included a list of COVID-19 emergency resources for artists HERE
The Redhawk Native American Arts CouncilThe Redhawk Native American Arts Council is a not for profit organization founded and maintained by Native American artists and educators residing in the New York City area. Since 1994, the Council is dedicated to educating the general public about Native American heritage through song, dance, theater, works of art and other cultural forms of expression. The council represents artists from North, South, Central American, Caribbean and Polynesian Indigenous cultures.

Redhawk Council produces four of the largest Native American heritage celebrations in the Northeast. The arts council also hosts festivals, workshops, theater presentations and educational programs, addressing stereotypes and fostering an awareness of Native cultures from a historical standpoint, with a focus on contemporary cultural practices.
The Redhawk Native American Arts Council have created a relief fund to give bursaries to 25 Indigenous artists, dancers, speakers, and creators of $1000 each. All donations to the Redhawk Artist Relief Fund are completely tax deductible and will go to folx in need at this time. The organization will be opening the application process once they have adequate funding, and will announce the awardees on our website: In addition, all of their Pow Wows for the spring and summer have been cancelled / postponed indefinitely.
Center for Artistic ActivismThe Center for Artistic Activism started bringing together practices to transform art and activism, using the best of each to leverage creativity and culture and successfully bring about social change. From their very beginning they identified the fields of culture, art and creativity as key to social justice work because these elements create opportunities for people marginalized from other spheres of influence such as law, politics and business to use their own unique perspectives to gain power, representation and real political change. But they knew creativity wasn’t enough. Training and organization is key. Our decade of experience and research has evolved into theory, curricula, and programs for activists and artists to fully understand how to effectively deploy artistic activism methodologies and win campaigns.

The Center for Artistic Activism has created the resource page, "Don't Cancel: Creative Activism and the Corona Virus," on starting points and strategies for taking your activism and art online and remote. It includes tips and case studies of artistic actions that demonstrate creative problem-solving in the age of physical distancing. The organization has also launched "Free the Vaccine for Covid-19" campaign to ensure equal access to treatments, testing and a vaccine for COVID-19.
Invisible Dog Art CenterThe Invisible Dog Art Center is housed in a three-story former factory building in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. The Invisible Dog is dedicated to the integration of innovation in the arts with profound respect for the past. The ground floor is used for exhibitions, performances and public events featuring visual artists, performers and curators from around the world. This floor also includes our pop-up shop, a home for independent and commercial designers in various fields.The second and third floors are divided into over 30 artists' studios and are integral to the vast creative community of the Invisible Dog.

According to the Invisible Dog Art Center Newsletter: They've cooked 25 recipes with Lucien Chef Ambition, raised $18,000 to support artists in need with Anne Mourier's Taking Care Fund, commissioned 10 artists for Pride Music Video Festival, and collaborated with dozen of institutions. Anne Mourier's Taking Care Fund is intended to help other artists in urgent need during the crisis of the COVID-19 and is still open for applications and donations.
BRIC Arts MediaBRIC has compiled a list of Resources for Artists During a Public Health Crisis from local and national arts and culture organizations. These resources offer assistance, such as financial support and opportunities for artists to continue to express their creative potential during these difficult times. The organization has launched the BRIC CREATIVE FUTURE RELIEF FUND to help alleviate the anticipated economic impact on BRIC, their programs, and their dedicated creative workforce who are the heart and soul of our vibrant organization and help them reopen their doors. Funding will be used to support the retention of BRIC’s full-time staff; paid sick leave for part-time staff; and artist fees, part-time wages, and teaching artist expenses as we transition to virtual programming. More information on their ongoing response to COVID and online programming HERE
Queens MuseumThe Queens Museum is dedicated to presenting the highest quality visual arts and educational programming for people in the New York metropolitan area, and particularly for the residents of Queens, a uniquely diverse, ethnic, cultural, and international community. The Museum fulfills its mission by designing and providing art exhibitions, public programs and educational experiences that promote the appreciation and enjoyment of art, support the creative efforts of artists, and enhance the quality of life through interpreting, collecting, and exhibiting art, architecture, and design.The Queens Museum presents artistic and educational programs and exhibitions that directly relate to the contemporary urban life of its constituents, while maintaining the highest standards of professional, intellectual, and ethical responsibility.The Queens Museum is a part of the collaborative initiative Kind-er Garden at Home, a community supported relief effort in response to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic that provided families in Corona, Queens, with plants, seeds, and materials to grow edible gardens in their homes. In addition, in order to help alleviate the demand on existing food pantries and relief efforts in Corona, the La Jornada and Together We Can Food Pantry at Queens Museum will serve 1,000 families weekly on Wednesdays, distributing a week’s worth of fresh and nonperishable food items. For the first week, starting on June 17th, 2020, the food pantry will serve 200 families and will gear up to full capacity the following weeks. Also, the Queens Museum has started a RESILLIENCE FUND to ensure their programming remains accessible online and are able to help their community.
The PointTHE POINT Community Development Corporation is a non-profit organization dedicated to youth development and the cultural and economic revitalization of the Hunts Point section of the South BronxIn terms of community development, The Point is continuing to team up with the office of State Senator Michael Blake to offer “grab and go meals” to seniors and families with school-age children. The organization are handing out up to 300 meals per day plus face masks from 11:30-12:30 PM, Mondays, and Wednesday through Friday.
Bronx-Wide People’s District 15 Candidate Forum will be held on June 9th from 6-7:30 PM via the NWBCCC Facebook live. The Point will ask the Congressional District 15 Candidates how they are going to fight for the Bronx-Wide People’s Platform. With this platform, they are saying loud and clear that this is the beginning of a new day for the Bronx, where our agenda and our plans set the path forward. To learn more about the Bronx-Wide People’s Platform visit:
NYC Artist Coalition A coalition of artists, creative organizations, community leaders, activists, policy makers, and specialists providing mutual support and advocating for informal and affordable community spaces in NYC.The NYC Artist Coalition, partnering with artists, health experts, gig workers, community spaces, community leaders, activists, policy makers, and mutual aid providers, coordinate NYC COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts through resources, actions, and educational videos. This includes: letters to elected officials, grass root relief models, "rent is due- what to do," and community space insurance tips.
Theater of the Oppressed NYCTheatre of the Oppressed NYC partners with community members at local organizations to form theatre troupes. These troupes devise and perform plays based on their challenges confronting economic inequality, racism, and other social, health and human rights injustices. After each performance, actors and audiences engage in theatrical brainstorming – called Forum Theatre – with the aim of catalyzing creative change on the individual, community, and political levels.The theater created a blog post with quick tips for grant writing that may help you on your search for funding, where you can start looking for grants to apply to, and budgeting advice.