New Philly artist relief fund launched, as city releases $2M in aid to local nonprofits

Three weeks after announcing the PHL COVID-19 Fund, the city has released $2 million to frontline nonprofits.

Philadelphia Art Museum

People gather on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

This week, an emergency relief fund was established to help artists and small arts organizations in Philadelphia survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy partnered with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, with major funding from the William Penn Foundation, the Barra Foundation,and the Wyncote Foundation, among others.

“Regional nonprofit arts and cultural organizations have experienced early, deep and widespread impacts as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Janet Haas, chair of the William Penn Foundation, in a statement. “This is an important moment for arts funders to come together to show their support for a sector that provides so much to our city.”

According to the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the regional arts sector includes more than 500 organizations, most of them small- to mid-sized, generating about 55,000 jobs and about a billion dollars in direct spending.

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The fund, called COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL, will assist with general operating costs, creating online services and direct support for individual artists.

Also this week, a previously announced emergency fund for the nonprofit sector, called the PHL COVID-19 Fund, released a list of organizations that will receive about $2 million. Most of the money is going to food pantries, including $200,000 each for Philabundance, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, and the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA).

“PHL COVID-19 Fund grants aim to provide vital dollars and resources to the nonprofits on the frontlines that need the most support,” said Bill Golderer, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, in a statement. “This first round of funding helps our nonprofit partners fill immediate gaps facing our communities — like ensuring access to food and other basic needs and supporting increased healthcare demands — that are so critical to the overall wellbeing of our region.”

Since the PHL COVID-19 Fund was announced on March 19, it has grown to $12 million in pledges. Pedro Ramos of the Philadelphia Foundation, a partner of the fund,  said requests for money exceed the amount available, but it will continue to fundraise and distribute the funds.

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