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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Photo: Darabi Photography.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Creates Hotline to Help Financially Struggling Artists

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco has launched a new digital platform and hotline to help artists and cultural workers struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Called the Artist Power Center, the long-term initiative will help arts professionals, including visual artists, writers, photographers, and performers, by connecting them to funding opportunities, emergency relief, and other resources.

“Covid-19 has made clear that many of our economic and political systems were already in need of reimagining,” said YBCA CEO Deborah Cullinan. “As we work to rebuild a more just and inclusive world, we will need creativity and imagination at the forefront, driving social progress and policy change. The Artist Power Center will allow us to collaborate and support artists nationwide and develop a more informed understanding of the challenges they face.”

According to the Americans for the Arts’ April survey, 95 percent of artists have lost income because of the global health crisis, and two-thirds face unemployment. As a result of the difficulties facing workers in creative industries, new grants and emergency aid programs are being offered by foundations and charitable organizations, as well as by local, state, and federal governments. Recognizing the difficulties of navigating the resources, the Artist Power Center will serve as a comprehensive portal providing artists with personalized assistance at no cost.

The platform will continuously update a database of funders and resources that will be organized by medium, location, and type of assistance; it will also include a community forum page where visitors can share experiences and advice. YBCA staff will curate webinars developed by peer organizations on how to apply to various programs and will provide daily phone support, Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM, in both English and Spanish.

Meklit Hadero, YBCA’s chief of program, said: “Put yourself in the shoes of an artist who has just lost a significant amount of work. That’s overwhelming enough. Now add hours and hours of grant and relief fund research on top of that. It’s just too much. The Artist Power Center is here so folks can connect with real people standing ready to assist. We will support members of our creative community in cultivating their own power as we work together to reshape the broader landscape for cultural workers.”

The Artist Power Center is supported by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, as well as a six-month grant from Zendesk, the customer service software company based in San Francisco, as part of its Covid-19 response efforts.

YBCA Artist Power. Photo: Brett Cook @brettcookstudio.

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