How to Support Artists and the Arts During COVID-19

Artwork Archive | March 16, 2020 (Updated April 12, 2021)

As art spaces and events close, how can we support our art communities and artists?  

In this unprecedented time for everyone, our daily routines are quickly shifting as the world responds to Coronavirus. 

As people self-quarantine, and conferences, workshops, and freelance gigs are put on hold, people across all sectors are experiencing lost wages, delayed work, and are having to shift their businesses to adapt to a new normal. 

Although artists have already begun to adapt to the changes and bring their practices online, there are many unknowns that we face in the upcoming weeks and months. 

The widespread cancellation of in-person events has affected many businesses—independent artists included—who rely on events, workshops, gigs, and physical locations to pay their bills. Now, more than ever, it's important to offer support to impacted groups if you are able.

Here are just a few ways that you can continue to support the arts and contribute to a healthy cultural community, even while practicing social distancing. 


Participate in an online art class

Selling art isn’t the only way that artists support themselves. Many artists teach at universities, after school programs, or travel to workshops. Many conferences and workshops are being put on hold and in-person events have been canceled, so classes are moving online. 

Are there classes online where you can learn a new art skill or try your hand at a new technique? Try using this time to learn something new, support other artists, and experience art from your home.


Set up a commission with your favorite artist

If, like us, you are spending a lot of time looking at your empty walls during this quarantine, this could be a great time to enlist an artist to help spruce up your place. 

A commission also doesn't have to happen right now. Many commission contracts include a 50% upfront fee and a 50% completion fee, so this could be a good way to offer financial support with a flexible window of time. 


If you are able, donate to the arts

If you are financially able, consider donating the money that you would have spent on tickets to live performances or exhibition tickets to artist organizations, arts nonprofits, and artists instead. 

Many GoFundMe accounts have popped up across the world to offer local support to artists and freelance communities. 

These pop-up organizations have already started distributing funds to those in need. Campaigns like The Seattle Artist's Relief Fund has already reached over $144,000 in just its first week and has already received 600 applications from their GoFundMe campaign to help offer support to artists in the Seattle area who are experiencing a loss of wages and work. See if there is already a local campaign for your city or town. If not, consider starting one! 

You can get started by taking a look at this compiled resource from Common Field to see if there is an arts organization that could need your help.


Share resources, art, and fundraisers with your own circles

Not everyone can offer financial support in difficult times. What you can do instead is share resources and information with artists, such as this list of emergency grants and relief funds for artists that we compiled. 

Have you been quietly following an artist on Instagram for a while? Share their work with others to boost their social following and, in turn, hopefully, sales. 

The unfortunate reality is that it's just not possible to donate to every fundraiser out there right now. However, don't underestimate the impact of sharing the fundraisers that you do come across and that you feel passionate about. The more people that see a campaign, the more likely it is to get funded. 


Buy artwork directly from an artist online 

Although you are not able to go to galleries in person or attend art openings, you can still view work online. In fact, you are probably spending a lot more time online now. Buying and renting art online is increasingly the norm and connecting to artists directly has never been easier.

Unsure about where to go to buy art? Find artists on Artwork Archive’s Discovery feature.  Artwork Archive does not take any commission from artwork sales on the Discovery platform, so you can feel good that all of your purchase goes directly to that artist. 


Offer emotional support

All people during this difficult time could use a little extra emotional support. Send the artist in your life a text, pick up the phone, or send a card or care package. Now more than ever we need to increase our social bonds and let people know that we appreciate the work they do. 

Being an artist in a normal economy can be a financial struggle, being an artist during a sudden decline can be downright stressful. 


Spread joy by gifting art (with a gift card)

Just as communities have been encouraged to buy gift cards to their local restaurants, bars, and shops to help them through this time, you can also purchase gift cards to buy art from an independent artist. 

Not every artist may have a gift card checkout set up, but don't hesitate to reach out and ask if that's something they would be interested in fulfilling. A gift card is a great way to help artists financially, ease their burden, and spread joy to someone else who might need a little pick-me-up during this time. 


Attend exhibits and openings online 

Just because in-person gatherings are not happening doesn’t mean that you can’t view art and keep up on openings. 

In response to event closures, institutions and individuals are getting creative about how their work is shared with the world.

Embrace the accessibility of online exhibits and openings and “attend" virtually.

In Hong Kong the art world is coming together to live stream gallery visits and artist talks online. Crack open a bottle of wine and try your hand at participating in the art world from your couch.


Encourage friends and family at home to get involved in the arts

As schools, restaurants, bars, gatherings and events close down for the upcoming weeks, people are looking for ways to occupy their time inside. While Netflix movie marathons are good for a while, the downtime is also a good opportunity to enrich your life with a new (digital) experience. Families that have children at home will be looking for ways to keep their kids entertained and educated.

Encourage your friends that might not normally be involved in the arts to consider an online art class for the kids or a virtual tour of a museum.


Looking to make an impact right now? Share this list of emergency relief funds with an artist that you know has lost work because of COVID-19.

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