NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 23: Susan Unterberg during the Skowhegan Awards Dinner 2019 at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)


The Anonymous Was a Woman awards have supported women artists over 40 since 1996, distributing more than $6 million in grants to a population that has historically and systematically been overlooked when it comes to major accolades and support. Now, for the first time ever, the organization is doubling its annual offering with an additional $250,000 of emergency relief grants in response to the ongoing health crisis that has shuttered museums, galleries, and other businesses around the world.

The grants—up to $2,500 apiece—aim to assist artists who are experiencing financial hardship due to lost income or opportunity as a result of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic shock. As with AWAW’s annual grants, the emergency funds, administered in partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts, are unrestricted and available only to women-identifying visual artists over the age of 40 in the United States.

Artist Susan Unterberg, who only revealed her identity as founder of AWAW in 2018, spent about 10 days mulling the idea before pulling the trigger. “This is the first time in 24 years that I’ve expanded beyond our stated mission because this is an unprecedented moment,” she told Artnet News in an email. “All the news coming out was dire, and I know many artists take on multiple jobs to support their practice, and these jobs were being cut. Artists needed help and I was able to help.”

Unterberg noted that women over 40 are more likely than others to have the additional stress of care-taking for elderly parents as well as children. “So many people are struggling, but by limiting the grant to women artists over 40, we have stayed true to our mission,” she said. “I wish we were able to help everyone.”

Susan Unterberg. Photo courtesy of Anonymous Was a Woman.

Susan Unterberg. Photo courtesy of Anonymous Was a Woman.

Unlike the traditional AWAW awards, which offer $25,000 in unrestricted funds to 10 artists each year based on the choices of a selection committee, the emergency grants can be applied for directly and will be awarded based solely on documented loss in the order in which the eligible applications are received. (The project is funded by Unterburg independently, but others who support the cause are invited to help expand the program by donating on AWAW’s website.)

“Susan is an inspiration as both an artist and a philanthropist. This fund will not only provide much needed financial support for artists, but, just as importantly, it will be an incredible source of hope,” said NYFA executive director Michael Royce in a statement.

Unterberg began AWAW in response to the National Endowment of the Arts’s elimination of grants for individual artists back in the 1990s, so it’s fitting that the announcement of the emergency funds follows the unveiling a federal $2 trillion stimulus package that offers minimal assistance in the realm of arts and culture.

“I inherited a foundation from my father that enabled me to set up Anonymous Was a Woman,” Unterberg said. “By digging deeper into the resources of the funds left in the foundation, I felt that I was able to support this emergency grant as well as our yearly one.”

Applications will be open from April 6 through 8. Winners of AWAW’s regular annual award will be announced as previously scheduled in the fall.

Resources from the Maryland State Arts Council: COVID-19 Business Relief Programs Announced by Governor Hogan – March 23, 2020

Governor Hogan announced new COVID-19 business relief programs on March 23. These resources are available through the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor.

In addition, the entire state of Maryland has received designation for SBA assistance. Small businesses can apply here for federal funding.

Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for BusinessesMaryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This emergency assistance provides interim relief and proceeds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs.If you are a Maryland-based business impacted by the Coronavirus with under 50 full- and part-time employees, or a Maryland manufacturer, check out the programs below to see if you qualify for assistance.

  • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More details are expected to be announced by Friday, March 27, 2020.

COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – Workforce Development and Adult LearningGovernor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Labor have launched the new COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which is designed to support businesses undergoing economic stresses due to the pandemic by preventing or minimizing the duration of unemployment resulting from layoffs. The award (up to $50,000 per applicant), will be a quick deployable benefit and customizable to the specific needs of your business to minimize the need for layoffs.Labor is accepting grant applications from small businesses for awards from now through 30 days after the State of Emergency ends (subject to funding availability).
How can it help me?

  • Providing funds to cover the cost of purchasing remote access (ex. computers, printers, etc.) equipment to allow employees to work remotely from home versus being laid off;
  • Providing funds to cover the cost of purchasing software or programs that an employee would need to use from home;
  • Supporting businesses that take advantage of the Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program by supplementing the employee’s income and benefits;
  • Providing funds to cover the costs of cleaning/sanitation services so that small businesses are able to keep employees at work on site, but only if a frequent deep cleaning to prevent exposure occurred;
  • Paying for liability insurance for restaurants that convert to delivery while under emergency circumstances;
  • Providing funds for training or professional development opportunities for employees to avoid layoffs; and
  • Adopting other creative approaches and strategies to reduce or eliminate the need for layoffs in the small business community.

Examples of how a business may demonstrate the need for layoff aversion funds:

  • I run a call center where employees usually work in an office setting. To support social distancing, I’d like my employees to work remotely, which will require equipment such as reliable headphones and laptops for each employee. If they do not have this equipment, I will need to layoff my staff.
  • I could ask employees to use their personal phones and work remotely, but I do not have the funds to support the cell phone packages. If provided funds to reimburse employees for the increased data usage, my business could avoid layoffs.
  • My employees could work remotely if they had a specific software or computer application, but I cannot afford to purchase. Without this software, I will need to layoff my workforce until we can go back to the office.
  • I need my 8 employees to continue to work on site, but I am concerned about their potential exposure to COVID-19 and cannot afford frequent deep cleaning to help limit potential exposure. If I had funds to support the deep cleaning, it would allow my workers to continue to work and would foster a safer work environment.
  • Due to the impacts of COVID-19, my employees have more down time than usual. If I were able to offer the opportunity for them to take project management training online during this down time, they will increase their skillsets, making them a valuable asset to our company and less likely a candidate for layoff.

Get Started Now!✔ View the One Pager✔ COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund Policy✔ COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund Application (Excel)Submit your completed application to: LaborCOVID19.layoffaversion@maryland.govLabor staff will process applications within two business days of receipt. Upon approval and receipt of signed contract, payment will be expedited.
For More Information…Contact the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning.

As Baltimore’s Arts Council, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is committed to focusing on the importance of Census completion within the creative community. The promotional campaign “I’m Creative & I Count” has been implemented into BOPA’s programming and events with the goal of engaging creatives, one of the Census’ hard-to-count populations. By participating in the Census, you give Baltimore’s thriving community of artists, musicians, educators and more the proper representation.

Look for the 2020 U.S. Census invitations in the mail at home and submit your responses this Census Day on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Participation is easy and responses can be submitted online, by mailed paper form, or by calling the Census Bureau.

As part of the “I’m Creative & I Count” campaign, BOPA has distributed brochures, buttons, stickers and information about the importance of the Census. BOPA also spoke with Baltimore-based artists about what it means to be a part of our vibrant creative community.

Take a look at their stories below:

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Americans for the Arts has a list of resources for artists and has recorded and shared its March 13 conversation with teaching artists about COVID-19.

Emergency Grants – Women Arts

Emergency Grants – Foundation for Contemporary Art

Actors Fund Emergency Financial Assistance (not just for actors)

Shade Literary Arts Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund (national)

NEA Shared List of Resources for Arts & Cultural Organizations and Professionals/Individuals

The Ghostlight Fund (theater actors)

Freelance Artist & Scholars Resources

Emergency Grants – Rauschenberg Foundation 

Emergency Grants – Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant (visual arts)

Emergency Grants – Haven Foundation

Emergency Funding – CERF + The Artists Safety Net

Musicians Foundation Emergency Fund

Corona Virus 2020 Artist Relief Funds Database

List of Emergency Funding Opportunities for Visual Artists

List of Funding Opportunities from 3Arts

The Artbar Blog is sharing a weekly art and play activity guide for kids and parents in quarantine. This “creativity supplement to homeschool learning for kids 3–8” includes suggestions for drawing tools, nature walks, and more.

Mo Willems, Kennedy Center artist in residence, is hosting lunch doodles each weekday at 1pm ET. Viewers can also ask questions and view archived episodes on the Kennedy Center website.

The Music Teachers National Association has a list of websites for kids. Among the websites are games for kids interested in classical music, virtual tours of music halls, music theory resources, and more.

Tinkerlab has maker ideas and visual arts challenges for learners on its website. There are also science projects and other activities, and those interested can sign up for a mailing list with new activities and ideas.

We Are Teachers has assembled a list of authors reading their work aloud, sharing digital resources, and facilitating online activities.

Sundance Film Festival
Photo credit: Debbie D. Dorsey

Last month, Debbie D. Dorsey, BOPA’s Director of the Baltimore Film Office, traveled to Park City, Utah to support Baltimore’s presence at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The annual film festival is highly anticipated as one of the biggest gatherings of filmmakers and audiences, with many films that launch at Sundance going on to gain critical acclaim worldwide.

This year’s festival featured screenings of narratives, documentaries, and shorts from all over the world, including Sweden, Iran, Mexico, Germany, and more. BOPA is proud to report that Baltimore was also present among this international roundup of films and storytellers.

“Baltimore was well represented at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival,” says Dorsey, fresh off of her first trip to Park City for the festival. Dorsey was able to attend screenings, meet with cast and crew, and see Baltimore talent shine at Sundance.

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1.       As the Visual Arts Specialist, what is your position within the Arts Council at BOPA?

I work as a project manager for the Sondheim Artscape Prize, the Municipal Art Society’s Artist Travel Prize and Public Art Prize, Public Art Projects, and the visual arts awards for the state’s Scholastic Art Awards.

2.       This is an exciting time of the year for you, with the launch of the 15th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize application. Can you tell us a bit about this process and what we can expect over the next few months leading up to Artscape?

Sure! The call for artists just closed, so I review all the applications to make sure they are complete before sending them along to our jurors to score. Our jurors (Gary Carrion-Murayari from the New Musuem, photographer Nona Faustine, and Diya Vij from the High Line) will score all 300 entries, and from those scores the top 25 to 30 artists will be semi-finalists, who submit additional materials which the jurors score again. This scoring is used to shape the discussion in the in-person meeting (usually in New York), where the jurors select the finalists for the prize. The in-person meeting is crucial to the process, in my experience this helps to come up with a very thought-through group of artists. These finalists are then notified and have meetings with The Walters Art Museum staff to help figure out the gallery layout, needs of each artist, etc. That show will open Thursday, May 28, 2020. Then, the jurors will travel to Baltimore to interview each artist in their exhibition on Saturday, July 11, 2020 with the announcement of the recipient of the award that evening.

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