Greater Pittsburgh Arts council pivots its existing emergency funds to coronavirus relief | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Greater Pittsburgh Arts council pivots its existing emergency funds to coronavirus relief

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) has an Emergency Fund for Artists in place, but it wasn't built with a world-halting pandemic in mind. It is meant to provide relief for artists experiencing personal emergencies, like stolen instruments or a house fire. But now, GPAC is expanding its focus, and fundraising to increase the amount of financial assistance available.

The emergency fund is for artists who have lost income due to an event cancellation or closing. Applications are open on the GPAC website and are open to artists in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, Lawrence, Indiana, Greene, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. The fund will cover up to $500 for each approved applicant.

"The fund's original purpose was to support artists that have experienced specific emergencies such as fire, flood, accident, theft, which would impact their ability to continue their practice," says GPAC CEO Mitch Swain. He says those eligible for emergency funds include but are not limited to people with "financial losses due to canceled events, including performances and performance arts, speaking opportunities ... and offsetting loss of income for teaching artists who cannot teach during this time."

Swain says the fund began with around $14,000, which could help upwards of 30 or 40 people, but to expand efforts, GPAC launched a fundraising campaign on its Facebook page and website. So far, he says, it's already raised over $3,000 since launching yesterday.

Applications for emergency funds will be reviewed on a case by case basis, by a committee of people who work outside of GPAC.

Outside of financial donations, GPAC encourages people to support the local arts community by doing things like shopping online from small businesses and donating canceled event tickets to the venue.

"We're surveying our membership right now, asking for information about how the crisis has and is affecting them," says Swain. "We're spending a great deal of time right now getting in touch with our members to find out how we can help them."

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