ArtsNow launches $50,000 Artist Relief Fund for Summit County artists

Reporting and writing by Abbey Marshall

ArtsNow has a reprieve to offer local artists working in one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Artist Relief Fund, with $50,000 available from the GAR Foundation and managed by ArtsNow, is now open to applications from Summit County artists.

Artists working in a broad range of fields, from performing to visual arts to writing, can apply for either a $500 or $1,000 grant, which can be used with great flexibility. The funds can cover expenses related to creating, such as new equipment or rent of a studio, or other necessities for personal life, such as housing, utilities, childcare and more.

In order to be eligible, artists must be over the age of 18, prove a sustained effort to their work, career and audience and demonstrate a loss of income directly related to the pandemic. 

Artists can apply at

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A panel of community members and artists will determine who receives the grants based on an “intentional and equitable distribution of funds,” says Nicole Mullet, Executive Director of ArtsNow.

ArtsNow is working with partners such as the Akron Urban League, International Institute of Akron and more organizations to ensure the application process and information materials reach a diverse audience and people in all corners of the county.

In addition, Mullet is working to make the application process as simple and accessible as possible. She says if any artist faces challenges with the application form, be it a language barrier or technology accessibility issues, they can contact her directly at or 330-410-3362 for alternate application processes.

Mullet says the fund will help artists with essential expenses, but the arts need much more. 

“We’re very aware of the very real pain and worry that is out there, as well as this is a much needed fund, but I don’t what anyone to think this is a checked box and the arts don’t need any more support,” she says.

Mullet encourages Summit County residents to think of additional ways to support artists at this time, whether it is purchasing artwork online, streaming a musician’s album and buying merchandise or contacting ArtsNow and donating to the Artist Relief Fund directly to ensure additional funding. Donations can be made to this ArtsNow campaign.

“Arts are threaded throughout this entire community, and we want to make sure it survives,” she says. “It’s going to take a lot of effort to collectively make sure we still have a vibrant artistic community to come back to when we re-emerge from this pandemic.”

Abbey Marshall covers economic development for The Devil Strip via Report for America. Reach her at