ArtsBuild And The Artist Emergency Fund

How ArtsBuild has used the Artist Emergency Fund to help our community during COVID-19

Artists have been some of the hardest hit individuals by the COVID-19 pandemic with many of them being left entirely out of work. During this crisis though, many local organizations have stepped up to help. One that has had the biggest impact during this time is ArtsBuild with the Artist Emergency Fund.


James McKissic is the President of ArtsBuild, an organization that has been supporting Chattanooga’s art community for over 50 years.


“We quickly saw the effect that COVID-19 was having on artists,” James shared. “Early on we saw the post on social media about canceled gigs and the loss of income.”


ArtsBuild began organizing immediately. The nonprofit organization receives the funds that it uses to support local artists from local donors and funders. These funders allowed for ArtsBuild to access leftover funds to create the Artist Emergency Fund, the first of its kind ever in Chattanooga.


Within days ArtsBuild was able to begin allocating up to $500 to needy artists who applied to the fund and in under two months, they were able to approve every valid request made. This meant that more than 90 local artists were given funds to help them during this time.


“Overall this is another way to dig into our mission of supporting individual artists,” James said.


Applying to the Artist Emergency Fund is currently closed, but James expects that it will be reponed soon after ArtsBuild is able to acquire more funds. ArtsBuild plans to continue to have this fund even after the COVID-19 crisis ends so that there will permanently be a system in Chattanooga to help artists in crisis.


“The art community here has been severely affected,” James said. “Estimates are putting it at two million dollars lost in Hamilton County alone because of the pandemic.”


Along with supporting organizations like ArtsBuild, James says that there are many things Chattanoogans can be doing during this time to support local artists. Among them are continuing to purchase artwork, taking part in online auctions like those being held by the Chattanooga Tourism Co., and participating in art-focused online events.


“Artist’s needs haven’t gone away. They still need the people of Chattanooga as their patrons!”


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