Best COVID fundraiser: PGH Artists Emergency Fund 2020 | People + Places | Pittsburgh

Best Of PGH

Best COVID fundraiser: PGH Artists Emergency Fund

click to enlarge Best COVID fundraiser: PGH Artists Emergency Fund
CP Photos: Jared Wickerham
Julie Mallis, sarah huny young, and Joshua Orange
When COVID-19 began impacting Pittsburgh in March, the economic impact was immediate. Suddenly, thousands of people were out of work without a clear answer when they might receive help or get their jobs back. In the arts community, actors, musicians, DJs, venue staff, and others who relied on income from gig performances had no way to perform their jobs from home.

Several friends in the local arts community, including Julie Mallis, Joshua Orange, and sarah huny young, began discussing what they could do to help and decided on a GoFundMe called the PGH Artists Emergency Fund. The fund's goal was set up to help those with canceled jobs and gigs with rent, bills, food, and other necessities.

"We can't wait around for our government to come through to support people," Mallis told Pittsburgh City Paper back in March. "We know historically that's not going to be good enough."

The group was able to crowdfund over $31,000 and distribute stipends of $250 to over 150 Pittsburgh artists. The fund raised so much money that the fund's creators and the rest of the team partnered with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to help manage the money raised and facilitate distribution of the funds.

The PGH Artists Emergency Fund wrapped up fundraising in June, just as nearly every city across the country was facing a reckoning with institutional and personal racism as the Black Lives Matter movement grew. So, after dispersing a final round of assistance for local artists, the PGH Artists Emergency Fund donated its leftover resources to bail funds and other organizations helping to combat racism, as well as individuals in need.

"With the power of us all coming together to support each other and the creative community, we proved that we can support each other when our systems and leaders fail us," said the team in a June statement.