FOUR NON-PROFITS, WITH SUPPORT OF THE POP CULTURE COLLABORATIVE, RESPOND TO COVID-19 WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR ARTISTS, ACTIVISTS, ORGANIZERS AND CULTURAL STRATEGISTS
April 7, 2020 — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial impact, four non-profits are launching or expanding existing funds, with support of the Pop Culture Collaborative, to support artists, activists, and cultural workers, especially people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ community members, disabled persons, and women. Awarded to the Soze Foundation, The Opportunity Agenda, the Center for Cultural Power, and PEN America, the $150,000 in grants from the Collaborative will be dispersed to entertainment writers, cultural critics, producers, artists, and cultural strategists whose work has been severely disrupted, reduced, or lost as a result of the pandemic and are in deep financial crisis.
With this support, each organization will move between $750 and $1,000 dollars to individual artists, cultural workers, and strategists that work within the entertainment industry and/or the ‘Pop Culture for Social Change’ field to cover essential needs such as rent, groceries, medical bills, and mental health care support.
The ‘Pop Culture for Social Change’ field is comprised of the a diverse ecosystem of artists, social change leaders and activists, researchers, strategists, philanthropists, industry executives, and others who use pop culture storytelling and strategies to promote just and humane narratives about groups of people historically excluded from the American story and society.
“Each of these organizations are deeply knowledgeable about and embedded with artist and activist communities. The Pop Culture Collaborative is providing support to ensure that the artists and cultural workers who are providing hope and meaning during this global crisis are able to take care of their own deeply important personal needs,” Pop Culture Collaborative Strategy Director Tracy Van Slyke said. “We invite other foundations and individual donors to join us in supporting these organizations so more artists and cultural workers have the support they so desperately need right now.”
In this round of COVID-19 rapid response grants, the Pop Culture Collaborative supported:
- The Soze Foundation, in partnership with TaskForce and Invisible Hand, for the Artist + Activist Relief Fund. The fund received a $35,000 matching grant to provide emergency relief for artists and activists, with an emphasis on supporting women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, who are crafting work that pushes our country to be more compassionate. The Artist+Activist Relief Fund launched on March 19, and has already dispersed grants to 250 artists and activists.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spread around the world, we instantly thought of our artist and activist community and knew they would be severely impacted, both professionally and personally,” The Soze Foundation co-founder Michael Skolnik said. “As we listened to many of our colleagues, it was evident that the most urgent need was to get financial resources to the artists and activists as quickly as possible, as they were losing their jobs, their contracts, their productions, their commissions, their livelihoods, within an instant. The Soze Foundation, in partnership with TaskForce and Invisible Hand created The Artist + Activist Relief Fund to make immediate, unrestricted grants from $250-$1000, to those most in need. In the first two weeks, the fund has received 6,148 applications and a waiting list of 2500+ people. It is clear the need is overwhelming, so our work will never end until we can support as many artists and activists as possible, as they are the ones who can bring light during a very dark time.”
- The Opportunity Agenda is receiving $50,000 for stipends to individual artists of all mediums and freelance cultural strategists, with an emphasis on gender and racial diversity. The Opportunity Agenda will first reach out to its “Creative Change” community, a group of 600+ artists, cultural strategists and social justice organizers to launch the fund.
“The COVID-19 pandemic lays bare the grave systemic injustices of our society,” Opportunity Agenda president Ellen Buchman said. “Members of The Opportunity Agenda’s Creative Change network, along with the larger field of diverse artists and culture changers, serve as powerful social justice storytellers and agents of transformative change. Tragically, they join many whose livelihoods have been disrupted because they are on the frontline of this pandemic. It is imperative that they be supported in this crisis, and The Opportunity Agenda is heartened to be able to offer these stipends to help weather this storm and ensure that the voices of these artists and creative change agents will continue to be heard.”
- The Center for Cultural Power will receive $50,000 to put towards pop culture artists who are women of color, transgender or non-binary, disabled, indigenous, or migrants. This $50,000 will be joined with $25,000 in support from award-winning television producer, director and writer Jill Soloway and the group 5050by2020.
“The pandemic has negatively impacted workers around the country, and artists and culture makers are a part of that workforce. We recognize that in times of crisis, the work of artists is indispensable in keeping us comforted, inspired, and able to imagine what a future world could look like. We will be supporting artists in the pop culture world who are women of color, queer, trans, disabled, indigenous and immigrant. We recognize that artists that have been traditionally marginalized by the culture sector face a unique set of hurdles, and we are grateful to be able to support them in a small way as they navigate times of hardship,” says Favianna Rodriguez,
- In addition, $15,000 is being granted to PEN America’s Writers Emergency Fund, a longstanding source of support for the literary community in dire circumstances. PEN America is distributing $500-$1,000 to professional writers who demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need during COVID-19.
Additionally, pop culture for social change field members are activating new ways to support artists, creators, activists, and underserved communities during this global crisis:
- Color of Change partnered with BET to ensure the Black community has clear and focused information in order to get help, take action, and support their communities.
- Translash will share news and stories about the impact of coronavirus on TGNC communities of color, and will also be hosting virtual meetings led by the Transgender Law Center and other trans-led organizations about how to respond to coronavirus.
- Pillars Fund is issuing grants to support Muslim artists and activists in the United States, who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
- National Domestic Workers Alliance created a Coronavirus Care Fund to ensure domestic workers, who are on the front lines of this crisis, are financially supported.
- People’s Action is advocating for relief for front line communities, and guaranteed housing as a right.
- United We Dream is demanding the Supreme Court delay its ruling on DACA and ICE halt operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Caring Across Generations is ensuring resource support for caregivers, and is pressuring Congress to enact an emergency Universal Family Care Fund to provide relief for Americans caring for other Americans.
As the pandemic continues to take its toll on the entertainment and justice landscapes, the Pop Culture Collaborative will evaluate further support for this community, including exploring ways to power the storytelling needed for society to adjust to the post-coronavirus landscape and the 2020 political environment.
About Pop Culture Collaborative:
Pop Culture Collaborative is a philanthropic resource and funder learning community that uses grantmaking, convening, narrative strategy, and research to transform the narrative landscape around people of color, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and Native people—especially those who are women, queer, transgender, and/or disabled. The Collaborative believes there is an opportunity—and that philanthropy has a responsibility—to build a field capable of shaping popular culture to reflect the complexity of the American people and make a just and pluralistic future feel real, desirable, and inevitable. Through partnerships between the social justice sector and the pop culture industries, the Collaborative believes activists, artists, and philanthropists can encourage mass audiences to reckon with the past and rewrite the story of our nation’s future. For more, visit popcollab.org.
About The Soze Foundation
The Soze Foundation, started by members of The Soze Agency, is led by a collective of activists, storytellers, artists, and strategists that envision a world in which every person has the ability and resources to empower changes in their community through the use of art and culture.
About The Opportunity Agenda
The Opportunity Agenda is a social justice communication lab that works to advance the impact of the social justice community. It works with social justice leaders, groups, creative artists, and movements nationwide, using communications and cultural strategies to move hearts and minds, and to drive lasting policy for a more just society.
About Center for Cultural Power
Center for Cultural Power (formerly CultureStrike) has established itself as a leading force in the growing arts for social change field. Bringing together various strands of cultural and community organizing with creativity at the center, it is part lab, activist studio, publisher, think tank, and network. The organization, co-founded by artist activist Favianna Rodriguez, has created groundbreaking artistic interventions and cultural strategy in the migrant, climate, and racial justice movements.
About PEN America
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN’s mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. PEN America works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.