Resources For Comics Creators and Employees Impacted By Coronavirus

Featured CBLDFTo help support the creative communities that make our mission possible, we’ve assembled this clearinghouse resource for financial aid, community tools, and other information. These resources can help comics creators, as well as industry employees who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns. If you see something we haven’t listed yet, please let us know by emailing info@cbldf.org.

You can connect with all of our coronavirus resources, including a robust set of retailer tools, here: http://www.cbldf.org/coronavirus

Community is our superpower. We’re going to get through this, together.

Immediate Steps to Take During the COVID-19 Outbreak

  • ​Contact your landlord and ask for rent relief.
    • If you work from home, this sample letter asking for a rent reduction can help. The Seattle Times provides this step-by-step overview about working with landlords when you’re financially distressed. Apartment Guide also provides useful tips about negotiating with your landlord or property manager in this explainer.
    • If you have a commercial rental for your studio, this resource from the American Booksellers Association maps out best practices for considering and making your ask. Here is a CNBC article with additional advice.
  • Most public utilities, phone and internet companies, are providing deferred billing and other measures to support communities during the crisis. This USA Today article outlines what major companies are doing. Find out what measures your providers are taking and factor that into your expense management strategy.
  • If you’re an individual suffering an economic setback, you can apply for unemployment and/or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which we discuss in this article.
  • If you’re an independent contractor, there are government loan opportunities from the Small Business Administration you may be eligible for, and you should apply for them as soon as possible. This CBLDF article discusses the SBA loans and how to apply.
  • Sell directly to your fans. Although everyone is feeling a cash pinch, many artists are finding short-term success in reaching out to their fans and offering original art and books to help them get through the crisis. There’re a lot of options to do this. For some, this is as low-maintenance as posting art to Instagram and putting an asking price in the captions. For others it’s establishing a Patreon or building an e-commerce site. CBLDF uses Shopify for our donation store and created this primer to help you get set up.

Expanded Unemployment Benefits for Freelance Creators, Employees, and Independent Contractors

 

Freelance workers are among the most economically vulnerable populations affected by the public health motivated economic shutdown. The federal government has taken steps toward addressing this within the body of the CARES Act rescue bill by creating “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,” a new benefit that includes self-employed 1099 workers.

For individuals who lost their full or part-time jobs because of the crisis, the Act provides an additional $600 on top of your existing unemployment benefits until July. The bill also provides a 13-week extension on unemployment benefits beyond the maximum duration your state provides.

Here’s an infographic describing the situation at a glance:

govtrelief_final
Creative professionals and other independent contractors affected by the crisis are eligible for “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,” which provides funds to people suffering work losses as a result of the outbreak. Claimants in this category will receive the federally guaranteed $600, plus half the unemployment benefit in their state. This article includes a table to help you calculate your benefits and links to state agencies where you can apply.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is being managed through state unemployment agencies who are working to implement the new rules that make freelance and gig workers eligible for assistance. The implementation is uneven and slow going, so be patient. It’s possible that your state has not yet updated their unemployment application to reflect the changes. You should still fill out and submit your unemployment application as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it’s possible that you may need to apply more than once in some states.

Additionally, many states have implemented their own economic aid measures, so please check for yours in the state resource directory provided by the AFL-CIO.

We highly recommend these three resources to help you start your applications for unemployment or PUA.

AFL-CIO Master List of COVID-19 Resources  Easy to use tool with links to unemployment and other financial support resources for workers in all fifty states.

How to Get Coronavirus Benefits, Explained: This essential resource from VOX includes a table of unemployment benefits by state and links to every state’s unemployment agency, as well as other frequently asked questions to support freelancers and employees.

How to Apply For Unemployment Insurance – This Department of Labor guide is a useful starting point for understanding how to apply for unemployment benefits.

Stimulus Payments & Tax Changes

In addition to unemployment benefits, the CARES Act also provides a stimulus payment to individuals earning up to $99,000 per year. A full payment of $1,200, plus $500 per child, will be sent to people earning less than $75,000 with reduced checks sent to people making up to $99,000. The Washington Post provided this useful calculator to help you estimate your stimulus check payment.

In addition to the above measures, the federal income tax deadline has been moved to July 15, with many states following suit.

Opportunities for Financial Assistance and Other Resources

There are a wide range of public and private charitable efforts underway to provide relief for freelancers and employees in many industries. We’ve gathered some that appear to provide eligibility for comics creators. We have not linked to any fundraising efforts that would specifically exclude comics professionals, nor have we linked to efforts without application or disbursal guidelines.

In addition to charity, there are a broad range of information and mutual aid projects appearing across the country, and we have provided links to some of those tools.

Grants

Artist Relief Project $200 emergency grants provided to any artist on a first come, first served basis.

Artist Trust Relief Fund (Washington State) – $500–$5,000 needs based grants for artists residing in Washington State.

Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund – $200 emergency grants to artists or arts administrators experiencing an economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund is for those who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).

Arts Greensboro Emergency Relief Fund (Greensboro, NC) – Emergency funds for working artists in Greensboro, NC who lost income due to pandemic related cancellations.  Funds are dispersed weekly on a money-in, money-out basis, according to what has been donated to support the fund. 

The Atlanta Artist Lost Gig Fund (Atlanta, GA) – Applications are currently closed, but there are plans to continue the grant in the future on a rolling basis. This fund provides grants of up to $500 for Atlanta residents with documented work loss as a result of COVID-19.

Boston Artist Relief Fund (Boston, MA) – $500 and $1,000 grants for individual artists living in Boston suffering economic stress as a result of COVID-19. Includes provisions for teaching artists and artists working in the service industry. 

Cambridge Artist Relief Fund (Cambridge, MA) – One-time $200–$1,000 grants for Cambridge residents with documented work loss as a result of COVID-19. 

Center for Cultural Innovation San Francisco Arts & Artists Relief Fund (San Francisco, CA) – Grants of up to $2,000 for individuals, and up to $25,000 for non-commercial arts organizations in San Francisco. Applications due on April 15. 

Columbus Arts Council COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants for Artists (Franklin County, OH) – One-time grants of up to $1,000 for artists living in Franklin County experiencing financial impacts from COVID-19. 

Creative Catalyst Fund (Newark, NJ) – $1,000–$10,000 grants for Newark, NJ based artists in any discipline whose work is dedicated to creating social impact. Applications due May 1. 

Creative Industry Relief Fund (Fort Worth, TX) – One-time $300 grants for artists of any discipline in the Fort Worth area who have lost work due to COVID-19.

Crosshatch Artist Emergency Fund (Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties, MI) – $500 grants for individual artists within the local service area who have lost income due to COVID-19.

Culture Connects Coalition (Santa Fe, NM) – $500–$1,000 grants for artists residing in Santa Fe, NM. 

Durham Artist Relief Fund (Durham, NC) – Grants for artists in Durham, NC financially impacted by cancellations due to COVID-19, with priority given to BIPOC artists, transgender & nonbinary artists, and disabled artists.

Freelancers Union Freelancers Relief Fund – Grants of up to $1,000 for U.S. freelancers who have lost at least 50% of their income as a result of COVID-19. Priority may be given to Freelancers Union members. 

Fulcrum Fund (Artists based within an 80-mile radius of Albuquerque, NM) – $1,000 grants for up to 60 artists in local coverage area who have lost income as a result of COVID-19 cancelations.

Futures Fund: Emergency Relief for Artists (St. Louis, MO) – $1,000 grants for up to 60 artists in the St. Louis area. 

Mass Cultural Council COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals (Massachusetts) – $1,000 grants for individual artists or independent teaching artists living in Massachusetts with documented losses of at least $1,000 due to COVID-19, who are also not eligible for unemployment benefits. 

New Haven Creative Sector Relief Fund (New Haven, CT) One time grants of up to $1,000 for low-income individuals and small budget arts organizations in the city of New Haven. 

New Orleans Business Alliance Relief Fund for Gig Workers (New Orleans, LA) – $500–$1,000 grants for New Orleans area residents who earn at least 60% of their income from the gig economy with documented gig losses as a result of COVID-19. 

Oolite Arts Relief Fund for artists for COVID-19 (Miami-Dade County, FL) – Grants for up to $500 for visual artists living in Miami-Dade County who can document COVID-19 related cancelation of specific, scheduled employment, including commissions and exhibitions.

Patreon Artist Fund – Grants for artists in any discipline, with an application deadline of April 14.

PEN America Writer’s Emergency Fund – Need-based grants of $500–$1,000 for published writers experiencing acute financial distress, especially resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.

Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund – $100–$500 grants for queer writers of color suffering financial impacts from COVID-19.

Safety Net Fund (Bay Area, CA) – Grants of up to $1,000 for Bay Area artists who show less than $1,000 of income for the previous 30-day period and who have suffered economic distress because of COVID-19. 

Other Resources

Coronavirus 2020 Artist Relief Spreadsheet – Google Docs spreadsheet aggregating a broad range of funding opportunities, and categorizing them by amount of aid offered, application difficulty, and other criteria.

COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources – Broad, well-organized aggregated list of free resources, including: community care and mutual aideconomic impact surveys, emergency funding, financial FAQs, remote work resources, and much more. An excellent repository of valuable, timely, and practical information.  

New York Foundation for the Arts – Exhaustive listing of grants and other financial aid tools for artists across disciplines.

If there are other resources you find that we should add, please let us know by emailing info@cbldf.org

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