A New Emergency Relief Grant for Women Artists Over 40

The Anonymous Was a Woman emergency grant will distribute a total of $250,000 in funding, up to $2,500 for each grantee.

Susan Unterberg, founder of the Anonymous Was A Woman grant program (photo by Alain Simic)

In times of crisis, artists are among the first and most deeply impacted by economic hardship. That may be doubly true for populations who were especially vulnerable to begin with, affected by factors such as race and class. A new emergency relief grant, launched by Anonymous Was A Woman in partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), seeks to address two of these factors — gender and age — by supporting women artists age 40 and older who have lost income or opportunities due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The new grant will distribute a total of $250,000 in funding, up to $2,500 for each grantee, to eligible women-identifying visual artists in the US and its territories.

A report by the National Endowment for the Arts found that as women age, they earn less and less than their male counterparts. By the time they reach ages 55 to 64, they make only $0.66 for every dollar male artists make. “In many cases, women over the age of 40 carry additional stress as caregivers for both children and parents,” said Susan Unterberg, founder of Anonymous Was A Woman, in a press release.

Unterberg has traditionally funded an annual unrestricted grant of $25,000 to ten artists, but the COVID-19 crisis prompted her to launch the emergency relief grant in addition to the yearly award.

Her initiative is an example of how other existing funding programs could rework their missions to serve those in urgent need. Today, the Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) in Los Angeles, California announced it would adapt its 2020 Emergency Health Grant, offering a shorter form application and a rolling weekly deadline for $1,000 awards.

“Low-income artists who work in any genre or medium, who identify as a woman, as trans or nonbinary, and/or as a person of color, who live in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino Counties are eligible to apply,” the WCCW explains.

The application for Anonymous Was A Woman’s grant will be made available on April 6 at 10 AM EST and remain open through April 8. Funds will be awarded to eligible applicants on a first-come, first-served basis, and they will be notified of their funding status by April 30. More information can be found on NYFA’s website, here.

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