Monthly Archives: April 2020


2020 Poetry Out Loud Champions Celebrated

Washington, DC— The National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation are recognizing and celebrating the 2020 Poetry Out Loud™ student champions by distributing cash prize awards, sharing videos of poetry recitations by participants across the United States, and announcing the winners of the Poetry Ourselves contest.

Honoring Champions Across the Country

The 2020 Poetry Out Loud national finals were cancelled due to COVID-19, and several state finals were either cancelled or held virtually. Poetry Out Loud will honor both the students who won their state Poetry Out Loud competition (state champions) as well as students who advanced to the state finals in states that were unable to hold a competition.

In the coming weeks, videos of these students reciting a selection of poems from the Poetry Out Loud anthology will be released through and as well as on Twitter.

“From analyzing poems to spending hours memorizing and honing their recitations, we know the extraordinary amount of hard work and personal effort that each student put into the program,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “While we are disappointed not to have a national finals competition this year, we look forward to sharing students’ recitations through this video project and the resumption of the competition next school year.”

To honor the achievements of these students, each state champion will receive a $1,000 prize. In states where the finals were cancelled, the state arts agency will receive $1,000 to either award to a state champion named at a later date or divide among the students who advanced to the state finals. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded for Poetry Out Loud.

“Poetry Out Loud is a premiere event to celebrate months of preparation culminating with poetry at center stage, and we share in the disappointment of cancelling the national finals,” said Henry Bienen, president of the Poetry Foundation. “We preserved our commitment to recognize the students’ passion and hard work by awarding the prizes in as equitable a way as possible.”

Celebrating Original Work by Young Poets

Competitors also had the opportunity to participate in the Poetry Ourselves competition by submitting original works of poetry in spoken or written form.

A companion to Poetry Out Loud, the Poetry Ourselves competition gives students the opportunity to submit original poetry. This year, Poetry Ourselves submissions were judged by poet Carmen Gimenéz Smith. The competition was open to state champions as well as students who advanced to their state final in states that were unable to hold a competition this year.

Tessa Kresch, a student at Saint Johns School in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves spoken poetry winner for the poem “I Wonder What Will Happen Tomorrow.” Kieran Ellis, the 2020 Idaho Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a student at Kuna High School in Kuna, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves written poetry winner for the poem “Drought.”

Eden Getahun, the 2020 California Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a student at CK McClatchy High School in Sacramento, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves spoken poetry runner-up for the poem “Never Forget.” Max Feliciano Laracuente, a student at Residential Center of Academic Opportunities of Mayaguez (C.R.O.E.M.) in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves written poetry runner-up for the poem “Going Home.”

These winning submissions are available at the links above.

About Poetry Out Loud
A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud™ is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. By performing poetry, students can master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn more about literary history and contemporary life. Since 2005, more than four million students from 16,000 high schools in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have participated in Poetry Out Loud. Starting with the 2020-21 school year, Poetry Out Loud will expand to Guam and American Samoa.

For schools that choose to participate, the program starts in the classroom, where teachers may use the Poetry Out Loud toolkit to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Students select, memorize, and recite poems from an anthology of more than 1,100 classic and contemporary poems. Winners advance from the classroom to the school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. More information about the program and how to participate in the 2020-21 competition is available at

Follow the Poetry Out Loud on Facebook and Twitter.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.

Follow the National Endowment for the Arts on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, visit

Follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry on Facebook, Twitter @PoetryFound and @Poetrymagazine, and Instagram.

Original article:

By |2020-04-30T21:06:25-05:00April 30th, 2020|News|Comments Off on 2020 Poetry Out Loud Champions Celebrated

Art Alliance Illinois Holds COVID-19 Policy Briefings on Independent Contractors and Unemployment Benefits

Arts Alliance Illinois held a webinar last Friday to review financial relief opportunities for freelancers, independent contractors, and gig economy workers in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The webinar explains the newly expanded unemployment benefits program, opportunities for individuals in small business relief programs, and other potential sources of assistance for independent contractors.

The webinar can be viewed below or at

The Alliance has also developed an FAQ related Small Business Loans (including local, state, and federal programs with nonprofit eligibility) —click here to access it.

COVID-19 Policy Briefing: Unemployment Benefits

A representative of the Illinois Department of Employment Security will answer your specific questions, as well as questions from past webinars. There will also be a review the expanded unemployment benefits program that will open on May 11 for independent contractors. This is your opportunity to go straight to the source for answers and to provide input.

Tune in at 3:10 for an up-to-the-minute policy update from Jonathan VanderBrug on COVID-related relief.

Date and Time: Thursday, April 30, 3:00pm CT

Sign up:

How you can help: Visit our advocacy page to quickly connect to your legislators and voice your support for financial relief for artists and arts organizations affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

By |2020-04-29T19:13:54-05:00April 29th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Art Alliance Illinois Holds COVID-19 Policy Briefings on Independent Contractors and Unemployment Benefits

UIS Performing Arts Center Joins Springfield Non-Profits In Call For Support

SPRINGFIELD IL – April 22, 2020 – The non-profit arts organizations in Springfield have come together with one message – “The show will go on…but not without your help.”

Eleven major performing arts organizations in the Springfield area are combining their communication efforts to reassure the local community that performances will resume and to provide information on how you can support local arts organizations in the interim.

A single unified message is being distributed this week to over 75,000 email addresses representing almost every performing arts ticket buyer in the region. The email includes links to each participating organization, as well as a unique link to each organization’s secure online donation site.

This campaign is organized by the University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center.  Bryan Rives, Director of the Performing Arts Center, said “One mission of UIS is ‘Leadership Lived.’ We are always searching for ways to help our community. During this COVID-19 crisis, we realized our own patron email list, of over 42,000 addresses, could be used to spread the word about how to support local performing arts organizations in our area. We then reached out to The Hoogland Center for the Arts to see if they would like to partner with us on this effort. They quickly came on board, as did many others. Everyone we approached agreed to send the email to their individual mailing lists, even though it contains a fundraising appeal for other organizations in addition to their own. We are very lucky that our arts community can come together to support one another during this extremely trying time.”

Gus Gordon, Executive Director of the Hoogland Center for the Arts, said “During this pandemic we have been reminded that in times of need, many people turn to the arts for comfort. The vital role these performing arts organizations play in our community has never been clearer. With the support of our patrons and donors, we will be here to help heal the community when this crisis is over.”

The participating performing arts organizations are:

  • The Hoogland Center for the Arts
  • Illinois Symphony Orchestra
  • Springfield Area Arts Council
  • Springfield Ballet Company
  • Springfield Theatre Center
  • Springfield Youth Performance Group
  • Theatre in the Park
  • The Legacy Theatre
  • The Muni
  • Spencer Theatre Company
  • University of Illinois Performing Arts Center

Most of these organizations have already encountered a substantial loss of income due to the Covid-19 outbreak. These groups have employees to support, rent and bills to pay, and buildings to maintain. It will take considerable time to recover from this pandemic – emotionally, mentally and financially.

For more information about the Performing Arts Center, contact Jen Tibbs – (217) 206-8284,

By |2020-04-23T18:15:00-05:00April 23rd, 2020|News|Comments Off on UIS Performing Arts Center Joins Springfield Non-Profits In Call For Support

Grantmakers Support Artists and Writers Knocked Sideways by COVID-19

Grantmakers Support Artists and Writers Knocked Sideways By COVID-19

Nonprofit Quarterly | April 13, 2020

Many artists and writers get by on thin margins when it comes to personal finance, and for many independent creators, revenue sources dried up in days as COVID-19 forced venue, museum, gallery, bookstore, and community center closures. There are around 2.5 million artists in the US, and almost all of them are experiencing hardship. Grants and foundations are freeing up funds and removing restrictions to help them in this critical time.

Read the full article here:

By |2020-04-16T14:27:48-05:00April 16th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Grantmakers Support Artists and Writers Knocked Sideways by COVID-19

Illinois State Museum Seeking Submissions for COVID-19 Collection Project

The Illinois State Museum is asking the public to submit digital artifacts of the 2020 pandemic.

They are collecting writings, photos, artwork, and photographs that capture the experiences of living during this crisis in order to preserve this information for future generations.

They will share select submissions across social media and online exhibitions, as well as collect the submissions into a digital archive.

For more information and to submit your materials, visit the Illinois State Museum COVID-19 Collection Project website. 

By |2020-04-16T14:24:32-05:00April 8th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Illinois State Museum Seeking Submissions for COVID-19 Collection Project

Celebrate Poetry in April

April is National Poetry Month and luckily there are many ways to celebrate while staying safe at home. Check out the links below for poetry readings and resources tailored to remote enjoyment.

• From The Academy of American Poets,a list of 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month in the Virtual Classroom as well as 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month at Home or Online.

• From Lit Hub, Some of the best of online poetry, read by poets

• From the Poetry Foundation, the April issue of Poetry Magazineis free through their app

•From The Atlantic, Books Briefing: If Your Attention Span Is Shrinking, Read Poetry

• From the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program, Resources for Teachers

• From the Academy of American Poets, “Shelter in Poems.” To participate, select a poem that gives you hope from the collection and post a sentence or two about why the poem inspires you on social media with the hashtag #ShelterinPoems. The Academy will be considering responses and gathering the poems and testimonials in a special newsletter and sharing it online each week.

• From the Poets House, 10*10*10 with Dave Johnson. Join Dave Johnson to write a new poem in only 10 minutes. They will present a new video every weekday for 10 days, posted to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and on their website.

• 826 Digital – a free online platform where you can browse a wide variety of creative writing teaching resources and student writing examples for K-12 children.

• From the Poetry Foundation, a list of online poetry resources which includes teacher-specific resources, online courses in poetry, and audiovisual archives.

• From the Academy of American Poets, the Dear Poet project. Dear Poet is a multimedia education project that invites young people in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems written and read by award-winning poets. This year’s deadline to write a letter to a poet is April 30th.

• From the Poetry Foundation and Complexly, Ours Poetica, a tri-weekly video series that captures the intimacy and physicality of holding a book while engaging with a poem read by a distinctive voice. New episodes are out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

However you choose, choose to make poetry a part of your day this month.

By |2020-04-06T18:09:32-05:00April 6th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Celebrate Poetry in April

Emergency Relief Funds for Musicians

The Levitt Foundation has released a list of funds offering emergency relief to musicians and creative freelancers who have faced loss of income from the COVID-19 crisis. If you are in the position to offer extra support to help these funds missions, please consider donating.

The list of resources is reposted below. Please visit the Levitt Foundation blog to read the full article. 

National Emergency Relief Funds for Musicians
(+ links for artists of all disciplines below)

American Federation of Musicians (AFM): Lester Petrillo Memorial Fund
The Lester Petrillo Memorial Fund for Disabled Musicians provides a modest grant to temporarily or permanently disabled musicians who are members of the AFM. Members can apply here.

American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund
The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) Relief Fund provides support and temporary financial assistance to members in need. AGMA contracts with The Actors Fund to administer this program nationally as well as to provide comprehensive social services. Financial assistance is available for rent, utilities, mental health and medical care, as well as other basic living expenses. Grants are made case-by-case, based on need. Through March 31, due to the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken on their members, the AGMA Relief Fund will temporarily double the cap of financial assistance available to AGMA members in need. Members can apply here.

Artist + Activist Relief Fund
Created by the Soze Foundation, this fund will support artists and activists whose work has been impacted by COVID-19. $250-$750 grants will be awarded to selected applicants on an on-going basis. Apply for funding here or here.

Artist Relief Project
The Artist Relief Project is collecting donations to support artists in any discipline, who’ve been directly impacted by event cancellations and venue closures due to COVID-19-related health concerns. The funds raised will offer relief to artists in the immediate short term in the form of a one-time stipend and in the long term in the form of resources for alternative, sustainable economic opportunities. Request financial support here.

Artist Relief Tree
Anyone who is an artist can request funds from the Artist Relief Tree, which plans to fulfill every request with a flat $250 on a first-come, first-serve basis. The fund is currently not accepting new requests until it can secure additional funding, but to be informed if and when the opportunity becomes available again, click here.

Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund
This emergency fund can provide up to $200 for people of color that are either working artists or arts administration professionals affected by COVID-19. Artists/administrators of color currently experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 can apply for support via this application.

Bagby Foundation for Musical Arts
The Bagby Foundation offers small grants to support opera and classical music professionals, with a focus on pensioners. Reach out to Andrew Lark at 212-986-6094 for more information.

CERF+ Emergency Relief Fund 
Artists who have suffered from a recent, career threatening emergency, such as an illness, accident, fire or natural disaster, can apply for funding. Inquire about funding eligibility here.

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks (GoFundMe)
This more than $70,000 fund prioritizes LGBTQI+, non-binary, gender fluid and gender non-conforming people of color whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first round of funding closed on March 17, but organizers say they plan to continue to raise funds through mid-April. Learn more.

Equal Sound: Corona Relief Fund
The Corona Relief Fund supports musicians who have had cancelled shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result are losing income. Applicants must provide proof they had a confirmed concert cancelled over COVID-19 to receive the money. Apply for funding here.

Foundation for Contemporary Arts
Emergency Grants provide urgent funding ($500-$2,500) for visual and performing artists who incur unexpected or unbudgeted expenses for projects close to completion with committed exhibition or performance dates. Apply for COVID-19 Relief Fund support here.

Freelancer COVID-19 Emergency Fund
In alignment with their mission to make creativity sustainable, the Freelance Co-op has created a COVID-19 Emergency Fund to help support freelancers in this uncertain time. Examples of funding usage are unexpected childcare costs due to school closures, client cancellations and medical expenses due to the virus. As of March 18, the fund had $35,279 in requests and $5,299.69 raised, and is continuing to call for donations to keep up with demand. Contribute and/or apply for funding here.

Freelancers Union’s Relief Fund
Freelancers Relief Fund will offer financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs, including food/food supplies, utility payments and cash assistance to cover income loss. Applications for funding will open April 2, 2020.

Gospel Music Trust Fund
Individuals who’ve worked for 10+ years in the gospel music field (full-time) can submit a request for financial assistance to the Gospel Music Trust Fund, which grants funding in the event “of an emergency or major catastrophe, terminal or severe illness,” according to their website. Call 615-969-2781 for additional information.

Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund
The Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund provides financial assistance in time of extraordinary need, emergency or catastrophe to individuals who are or have been employed full-time in a facet of the country music industry (i.e. performer, songwriter, publisher, radio, session musician, etc.). Examples of distribution needs include medical bills, living expenses, rent or mortgage and utilities. The Opry Trust Fund accepts referrals from individuals within the country music community, including Opry members, as well as from other charitable organizations, such as MusiCares and the Performers Benefit Fund. Reach out to 1-800-SEE-OPRY for additional information.

International Bluegrass Music Association’s BlueGrass Trust Fund
Current or former bluegrass music professionals can apply here for financial grants and loans, which are generally between $500 and $5,000. The association has also created a COVID-19 specific resource page. Apply for funding here.

Jazz Foundation of America’s COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund
Musicians who have made a living playing blues, jazz and roots music can apply for emergency funding from the Jazz Foundation. Reach out for additional info here.
This “peer-to-peer wealth distribution” service is a tool for salaried workers to donate funds across a database of freelancers, service industry and gig economy workers who are impacted by COVID-19 health and safety restrictions. Click here to contribute or request funds.

Missed Tour
Artists and bands who have been displaced from touring due to the pandemic can list their merchandise on this site to help offset lost revenue, with zero charges or fees. Apply to be added to the site here.

Music Health Alliance
The Nashville-based Music Health Alliance has created a COVID-19/Tornado Relief Grant to provide emergency financial assistance to music professionals who are unable to pay their basic living expenses (health insurance/food/health care) over the next two months. Click here to apply.

Music Maker Relief Foundation
The Musical Sustenance Program offers emergency funds, monthly living stipends and assistance in obtaining social services to artists working in the Southern musical tradition, focusing on those 55 years or older with an annual income of $18,000 or less. For additional information, reach out to 919-643-2456 or

MusiCares Foundation
MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, including addiction resources. To help address the concerns of the industry during this time, they have expanded their services to include lost income due to the cancellation of scheduled gigs or performances due to COVID-19 precautionary measures. Apply for assistance here.

Musicians Foundation
The New York-based nonprofit established a new emergency grant program in response to the pandemic, offering all eligible applicants up to $200 each. After receiving an “immense volume of applications,” the foundation placed a temporary hold on all applications on March 13. Check this page for updates.

New Music Solidarity Fund
This artist-led initiative is granting emergency funding to freelance musicians “working in new creative, experimental or improvised music” who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The fund has already raised more than $130,000 and beginning on March 31, eligible artists may apply for grants of up to $500. Check back for application info then.

Patreon What the Fund Grant Program
The crowd-funding platform has set up a grant program to benefit select artists who have been impacted by COVID-19. Patreon itself kickstarted the fund by donating $10,000 and is currently accepting contributions. Grant recipients will be chosen by a board of fellow creators. Fill out this survey if interested in applying.

Pinetop Perkins Foundation’s Assistance League
PAL provides financial assistance to elderly musicians for medical and living expenses. Preference is given to blues artists, though musicians in other genres may be eligible depending on available funds. Click here to download an application form.

PLUS1 Covid-19 Relief Fund
PLUS1 has launched a PLUS1 COVID-19 Relief Fund to coordinate efforts to support those most at risk from the pandemic. PLUS1 is working with leading nonprofit organizations and several local organizations around the country to provide immediate assistance to musicians and music industry workers for medical expenses, lodging, clothing, food and other vital living expenses to those impacted due to sickness or loss of work. Learn more about the fund by contacting

Sound Royalties 
Sound Royalties has set up a $20 million fund for music creators impacted by COVID-19 to receive no-fee advances on their royalties. Learn more about applications for this temporary program, which are being accepted through April 16, 2020.

Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief
Spotify has set aside funds to provide each of the non-profit organisations listed on this website (the “Organizations”) with a donation, and to match public donations made directly to the Organizations listed on this website, up to a total value of USD $10 million.

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability or age-related problems. Sweet Relief offers assistance to all who reach out. While financial grants may not be available to every applicant, other resources, information, counseling and financial services are additional options each artist may take advantage of. Apply for funding here.

The Blues Foundation HART Fund
The Blues Foundation Handy Artists Relief Trust Fund is available to blues musicians and their families who are in financial need due to a broad range of health concerns. Request funding by contacting Elizabeth Montgomery Brown at 901-527-2583 ext. 13 or

The Creator Fund
This fund provides financial assistance to active creators who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. For medical, childcare, housing or grocery needs, apply for funding here.

Twenty Summers Emergency Arts Fund
Twenty Summers is launching an Emergency Arts Fund (EAF) for artists and arts organizations facing unmanageable financial loss as a result of COVID-19. EAF gives artists a chance to promote their work from home, and stimulates and connects art-lovers during a time of social isolation. Nominate an artist (including yourself) for funding here.


For a comprehensive list of national, regional and local resources for musicians—including many of the emergency relief funds mentioned in this post—check out Billboard’s “State-by-State Resource Guide for Music Professionals Who Need Help During Coronavirus Crisis.”

For a robust list of legal, technical, health and financial resources for artists of all disciplines, check out COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources.

By |2020-04-16T14:24:45-05:00April 3rd, 2020|News|Comments Off on Emergency Relief Funds for Musicians

Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot Launch Arts for Illinois

arts for Illinois logo

Arts Alliance Illinois has partnered with Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to launch Arts for Illinois  to provide artists and arts organizations with support during the COVID-19 crisis. It is a collaboration between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and members of the philanthropic community that recognizes the importance of the creative sector and works to bolster this vital part of our communities.

The website will provide support and resources as well as serve as a social network where artists can share their work with the public at home.

From AAI Executive Director Claire Rice: Through the newly launched Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, individual artists and artisans – including stage and production members and part-time cultural workers – experiencing an urgent need are able to apply for one-time grants of $1,500 distributed by 3Arts. Grants will be awarded through a lottery system and will be disseminated quickly. Additionally, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations of any size will be able to apply for relief through the Arts Work Fund. Based on their demonstrated financial need, organizations will be awarded grants from $6,000 – $30,000. More information about application guidelines and eligibility can be found online.

Visit for more information and spread the word using the hashtag #ArtsForIllinois.

By |2020-04-16T14:24:56-05:00April 1st, 2020|News|Comments Off on Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot Launch Arts for Illinois