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Indy Arts & Culture COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund

The Indy Arts & Culture COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund was created for individuals working in the arts sector and impacted by the current public health crisis. Primary concern is for the health and well being of individuals: specifically independent artists and staff working for small-to-midsize nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. This fund will provide rapid response $500 grants to help bridge the severe lost wages that make many in our creative community vulnerable. 

Those with critical immediate needs will be directed to the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund via calling 211 or visiting and the Mayor’s Action Line
NOTE: Creatives who work in a commercial field (event and portrait photography/videography, marketing, graphic design, event promotion, and other "fee for service" creative sector jobs) should visit the Indy Chamber Rapid Response Hub for support for small business owners and freelancers. If you also have a non-commercial creative arts practice that results in at least 40% of your overall income, please continue the process below.
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  • The first phase of these rapid-response grants will offer individuals grants of $500. 
  • Based upon need, applicants may apply once per 30-day period. 
  • Funding will be quick turnaround with grants confirmed on a rolling weekly basis. (Notification in 2 weeks)
  • There are two types of individuals eligible for this grant:
    • 1. Independent artists who work in at least one of the following disciplines: music, literature, dance, visual, and/or media (i.e., filmmaking, new media/technology as a visual art form)
    • 2. The staff of small-to-midsize nonprofit arts and cultural organizations (organization budgets between $20,000 to $500,000).
  • All applicants must live in Marion or one of the surrounding counties.
  • All applicants must be able to produce documentation of loss of income in excess of $500 due to cancelled events, projects, and/or organization temporary closure.
  • All applicants must be able to document and verify their consistent work in the non-commercial arts sector for at least the past two (2) years.
  • Individuals with the greatest current need.
  • Individuals without health insurance and/or access to sick days.
  • Individuals making at least 40% of their income from the creative arts*.
*Individuals may be employed or freelance in a commercial field/fee for service activity such as event photography, DJ, video documentation, corporate event performances/cover bands, etc. but must show at least 40% of your total personal income comes from your own original artistic pursuits outside of these commercial activities. 

The phase I fund will be managed by the Arts Council of Indianapolis in partnership with the funders and support from Indy Music Strategy, Indiana Humanities, Create Indy, and others.

Need help with applying for the Indy Arts & Culture COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund? This short video will help with understanding the application.

Thank you to Creative Renewal Arts Fellows Lalah Hazelwood (with Kenyettá Dance Company), Diop Adisa, Dan Wakefield, and Katie Hudnall for contributing.

For more information, contact us at



Will this grant affect my unemployment benefits?

This grant is reportable income. If you are receiving unemployment benefits, please be sure to report this income to remain compliant with state unemployment laws.

Why does the application ask if I have applied for unemployment? Does it affect my chances of being awarded funding? I don't think I'm eligible for unemployment anyway.

We ask if you have applied for unemployment benefits to better understand the current landscape, much like we as for demographic information. 

Whether you have applied for unemployment or not and whether you are receiving those benefits or not, does not affect your application for relief funding. This funding continues to be primarily based upon the greatest need.

You may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment benefits even if you have traditionally not been eligible for standard unemployment benefits. All contract workers, self-employed, gig workers, freelancers, etc. should review the current guidelines to decide if you should apply: Learn more here at Unemployment Resources at


What do I need to provide to show that 40% of my income comes from the arts?

It is required that applicants provide some kind of verifiable evidence. Usually your resume will provide enough information, but if it doesn’t tell the complete story, consider sharing a website, past projects, events, jobs, etc. These items must show at least 40% of your income comes from your own art practice. This does not include commercial "fee for service" jobs, which can account for 60% of your resume/income.

How do I prove that I don’t have health insurance or access to sick days?

We will need to verify that applicants do not have health insurance or access to sick days. For arts organizations, such evidence would include sharing your personnel policy or a letter from the CEO. If your current need involves healthcare, you may have medical bills to share.

Do my canceled projects need to be in central Indiana?

No, your canceled project could be anywhere. National tours, residencies, etc. We do however need evidence of the project being canceled.

How are you assessing an applicant's greatest current need?  What is your criteria?

Right now, almost everyone has some sort of need, but some among us are clearly in greater need, and the funding available is limited. We will assess the greatest need based on the case presented by the applicant. As a general rule, if you have funds to cover your basic needs for the next two months, you would not be a good candidate for this fund. Greatest need here, is immediate need of food, housing, or medical care, not art supplies, studio rent, or project equipment. All requests should be documented.  

I work for an arts organization and 40% of my income comes from the arts but I am not an artist and lost my job. Can I apply?  (i.e. marketing staff, receptionist, etc.)

Yes, any staff members from a qualifying nonprofit arts & cultural organization may apply if their hours have been cut or they have been laid off. Qualifying small & medium sized organizations will have a minimum annual operating budget of $20,000 and a maximum annual operating budget of $500,000. 

I am a teaching artist and the schools and art centers where I work are now closed. Can I apply?

Yes, we know that many teaching artists have been impacted by the emergency and those creatives are also eligible to apply to this fund. However, you must have documentation about the contractual engagement with the schools/venues you taught and evidence of their current status.

I am a visual artist and had an upcoming exhibition that was cancelled. I'm sure I would have sold some work because I sell work at all my shows. Can I apply?

Yes, visual artists with canceled exhibitions/shows are eligible to apply. However, documentation must include evidence that artist has consistently sold a certain amount of artwork at these types of exhibitions/venues in the past. Two examples of such evidence could include receipts with explanation or a letter from a gallery or event organizer who could provide documentation for those sales. A cancelled or postponed exhibition or art fair will not be enough without further financial documentation.

What if I was in conversations about an engagement and I had a verbal agreement but the details were still being worked out before a contract was signed. Can I apply?

Yes, an engagement without a written contract can be considered for funding, but there must be some form of paper/electronic trail to support that verbal agreement. We suggest you provide emails or letters that describe how far the conversations had gone, and any receipts for materials purchased for that engagement. Although, we always encourage all artists to get a signed contract before beginning work on a project, we realize that doesn’t always happen.

If awarded an emergency grant, when can I expect a payment? How will I receive it?

Everyone will be notified within one week of their request. If you do not receive notification within one week, the review panel may need further information from you. You may email to inquire after one week.

Payment will be made via a paper check mailed to your home address. The full process will take 5 - 10 business days. You will be asked to respond quickly with a W9 form for tax purposes. 

If I don’t have a resume, what can I submit?

You can submit an alternative to the traditional resume as part of your support materials.  Our goal is to receive proof of your work history. Therefore, you could provide a bio as long as it included  dates to mark your career as an artist or staff member. It could also include a website and/or social media that provides background on your work in the arts & cultural sector. We are sure that these are not the only ways to show your work history, so please provide whatever will allow the panel to understand the work you have been doing, how long, and to what extent.

I’m a musician, what should I submit as artwork documentation?

You should submit professional recordings in an audio file or on a website like SoundCloud, Band Camp, etc. You should also submit videos of live performances that show the quality of your work.

I lead a small or midsized nonprofit arts organization. Can I submit an application for one or all my employees?

Each employee must submit their own application. Organizations cannot apply on behalf of their employees. The role of the organization is to provide the documentation to support the case for relief from lost wages. Specifically, you should explain the reason for the cancellations and/or reduced-hours, and the difference between the income you provided before the COVID19 emergency and what you are providing today. 

I am a freelance photographer who spends equal amounts of time on my own fine art projects and on 'service for hire' projects like weddings, family portraits, and event photography. Am I eligible?

Yes, if your cancellations were for your art projects you would be eligible. If your cancellations are of "work for hire" like weddings and event photography, that is outside of the scope and spirit of this funding as defined by our funders. Those cancellations are not eligible. As a small business owner you should look at Indy Chamber's Rapid Resource Hub for resources.

All events and programs have been cancelled. Why do you need documentation that our events have been cancelled. Isn't that obvious?

Yes, we understand all events have been cancelled or postponed, but we need to confirm that you as an artist or contract worker had a defined role/paid role as part of an arts & culture program. That's why we need proof related to you and your role, not just a mass email from the organization or promoter that the event is cancelled.

Cancelled arts & culture events are eligible, but other "work for hire" events are not. We also need paperwork to backup our giving efforts. We need proof for the IRS, our funders, our annual audit, etc. as a 501 c3 nonprofit organization.

If I don't have a contract for a gig (live music, performance, etc.) how can I show documentation?

You should always have a written agreement, but if you do not, you may send in a screen shot of your website calendar listing the events, social media listings, etc. Then a text message or email from the organizer stating it has been cancelled will suffice to document the cancellation. Screen shots work well for all of these.

Image: Rob Dixon Trio at the Indianapolis Artsgarden, owned and operated by the Arts Council of Indianapolis

Special thanks to all of our funders


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