Community grants to support Rhode Island artists during pandemic

The Brown Arts Initiative’s Community Development Grants will fund the creation of new art for the 2020-21 season and help to support local artists who have been impacted by the pandemic.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As the spread of novel coronavirus takes its toll economically, workers in a variety of fields are facing significant employment and income challenges. Artists are no exception — the COVID-19 crisis has left many scrambling to find work as galleries close, businesses suspend creative campaigns and citizens are directed to stay at home.

Recognizing that some freelance artists may struggle to create, to buy art supplies or even to pay rent in the months to come, the Brown Arts Initiative has introduced a new community grant program to help Rhode Island artists bridge the financial gap during the pandemic.

The BAI’s new Community Development Grants will award $2,000 each to 10 working artists in the state who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. The grant will help artists support themselves and their families as they work on new creative projects that fit the BAI’s new three-year theme, “Remaking the Real.”

“Artists often struggle to get by in uncertain times, and the current COVID-19 crisis is no exception,” said Thalia Field, the BAI’s faculty director. “We wanted to make sure we were doing something to help support the artists we live with and work with so often. These grants are mutually beneficial — we will be able to enrich our 2020-21 season with their work, and they will be able to develop new projects and stay financially solvent.”

In their grant applications, Field said, artists must propose a project that addresses the theme “Remaking the Real,” which the BAI will explore over the course of three years starting in Fall 2020. “Remaking the Real” considers how artists, media-makers, and art and media theorists engage with the real — envisioning, re-envisioning and aesthetically remaking images and narratives of reality to bring new possibilities into existence.

Programming in the 2020-21 academic year, including the work created by Community Development Grant recipients, will feature art that explores historical revisionism, authorship and persona. Recipients’ works may be included in an exhibition or installation on the Brown campus, or they may take the form of a performance, talk, workshop, screening or reading. Artists will also engage with Brown students during the academic year in some form: they may give a master class, participate in a discussion or host students at their studios.

The Brown Arts Initiative grants augment a wide range of initiatives led by students, faculty and staff at Brown to assist the local community during the pandemic with everything from medical supply donations to a Community Meal Initiative to research on COVID-19. Field said the community grants will enable art-making to continue even as arts events and exhibitions remain shuttered on and off campus.

“We are focused on making more art and enabling the creation of more art: both on and off campus; both in the Brown community and in the Rhode Island community; both now, during this pandemic, and later, as we gear up for the next academic year,” Field said. “These are not grants so much as partnerships — they’re a statement of, ‘Let’s help each other out in this uncertain time and create something together.’”

Artists must apply by April 24 and award notifications will be made by May 1. Additional information on the grants is available at