ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The pandemic shook up the New Mexico art scene.
There were 209 COVID-relief grants totalling $256,000 awarded to New Mexico artists in 2020 by the Fulcrum Fund.
The grant, a program of 516 Arts, is also a partner in the Regional Regranting Program of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
There were a total of 912 submissions spanning 42 cities and towns across New Mexico. 196 individual artists received $1,000 each to support essentials like groceries, rent, childcare, and medicine; and 13 artist-run or alternative art spaces received $4,000-$5,000 each to help them to survive and hopefully reopen when it is safe.
“It’s an honor that our organization has been entrusted to steward significant relief funds to local artists from the Warhol and (Frederick) Hammersley foundations,” said Suzanne Sbarge, 516 Arts executive director. “Providing help to those who are struggling to survive through the current economic and health crisis feels like the most important part of our work this year.”
Sbarge said the pandemic is disproportionally affecting communities of color and artists are particularly vulnerable due to their tendencies to hold multiple part-time jobs, be employed as contract workers or as part of the gig economy, and to rely on trade-show or craft/art fairs to sell their work.
“516 ARTS, along with the Warhol and Hammersley foundations, wanted to prioritize those individuals who have been hardest hit financially, which resulted in 79% of the total grant funds being directed to Native American artists and artists of color,” Sbarge said.
Sbarge said the grants have become a lifeline for artists and their families.
The Fulcrum Fund is one of a few programs regionally that specifically provides relief funds for artists, many of whom don’t qualify for small-business relief or other programs.
The majority of the funds came from the Frederick Hammersley Foundation with $159,000. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts gave $90,000.
Additional funds came from individuals and local Native-serving organizations Flower Hill Institute and Wordcraft Circle. These foundations and organizations teamed up to make a difference during this time of need for so many artists.
“During these very difficult times we feel fortunate to be able to provide some assistance to artists and the art community in Frederick Hammersley’s name,” said Kathleen Shields, executive director of the Frederick Hammersley Foundation. “He was a great supporter of the arts in New Mexico and believed strongly in the value that art adds to our everyday lives.”