Championing Art & Artists in October

October is more than the month when we stir cinnamon, ginger, and cloves into pies — it’s National Arts and Humanities Month. And that makes now the time for us to trumpet the importance of artists and the arts.

Art helps us to reflect, find meaning, and to heal from trauma — whether that stems from the pandemic, unemployment, or racial injustice, all of which 2020 has delivered in bulk. This year, and this October, Bay Area artists need our support more than ever. They need emergency financial assistance and opportunities to work. Without that, they will be unable to continue to play their essential role in our community.

The Walter & Elise Haas Fund has long championed supporting the arts. Elise Haas, our co-founder, was passionately interested in the arts. She contributed to the development of San Francisco’s cultural institutions, serving on the boards of the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). When she was elected president of the SFMOMA board in 1964, she became the first woman to lead a major museum board in the United States.

This legacy of Elise Haas’ underpins our long-standing commitment to arts education; our investment in building civic engagement through the arts; and our support for artists. But 2020 has dealt artists a mighty blow. If Elise were alive today, we expect she would be as appalled as we are to learn that:

  • 94.5% of U.S. artists have lost income from their creative practice since March; and
  • 67% of California’s artists are fully unemployed because of COVID-19.

How We’re Helping

This past spring, the Fund invested in local, COVID-19-related, emergency, artists relief funds managed by Independent Art & Media, Intersection for the Arts, and Theater Bay Area. In August, recognizing that artists’ needs were still growing, we contributed to Artist Relief. That national effort will, among other things, distribute grants of $5,000 to Bay Area artists who face dire financial emergencies.

The deadline for the current cycle of Artist Relief awards is October 21, 2020. Apply here.

Susana Pedroso
Susana Arenas Pedroso, 2020 Creative Work Fund recipient for a collaboration with Duniya Dance and Drum. Photo by Brooke Anderson

This month, the Fund is opening a new application round for Creative Work Fund grants. While these grants support projects — not fellowships — they emphasize the gestation stage of creating a new artwork. Two-thirds of any Creative Work Fund grant must be invested in artists’ fees and artists’ direct expenses for creating the work. This translates into much needed income for artists.

The Creative Work Fund celebrates the excellence and diversity of the Bay Area’s arts community, and this is reflected in its list of 2020 grantees. Artists across a broad spectrum of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences receive Creative Work Fund support.

To better understand the Creative Work Fund program and hear master tips for applying, attend a free webinar presented through Candid on October 15th, at noon PDT. Follow-up webinars will focus on responding to applicants’ questions on November 18 and December 8. Information will be posted here when available.

The deadline for letters of inquiry to the Creative Work Fund is January 22, 2021.

This month, there will also be a virtual panel featuring four funders’ programs that support works by Bay Area artists on October 22 at 11 am PDT. Those funders are:

All of the aforementioned online sessions are free, but we encourage you to reserve spots in advance.

The Walter & Elise Haas Fund will continue to champion artists this October and throughout the year. On behalf of Elise — born this month in 1893 — we foster a vibrant Bay Area where artists live and thrive.

Arts, Blog, Grantmaking

1 Comment

  1. Stuart Williams

    Hi Frances.

    I’m glad to be aware of your blog, and to see your ongoing support for the arts.
    I feel lucky to have worked with you and it was a joy to do so. That was long ago in the early 1990s when Intersection for the Arts sponsored my installation in Solano County… Luminous Earth Grid.

    And… just wanting to say a very friendly hello after all this time.

    With best regards,
    Stuart Williams

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