The Mellon Foundation’s New Initiative Will Pour $125 Million into Artist Support

Up to 2,400 artists will receive no-strings-attached monthly payments.

People watch an exhibition at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on May 30, 2021 in New York. Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

It’s no secret that throughout the pandemic, New York City artists, creatives and art workers have been struggling to stay afloat without substantial structural support. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced the establishment of the City Artist Corps, an economic recovery program that will invest $25 million in employing artists. Additionally, on Thursday, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced the launch of a $125 million initiative called Creatives Rebuild New York that will work towards providing artists with either guaranteed income or full-time employment opportunities in order to attempt to heal the damage done by the pandemic.

Creatives Rebuild New York, or CRNY, is being funded by the Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. According to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York City lost 72 percent of its performing arts jobs during the pandemic; this figure is just one of many that illustrates just how dire certain aspects of the arts economy have become.

Specifically, CRNY will offer a guaranteed income program that’s designed to provide monthly payments to up to 2,400 artists who have acute financial needs; these payments will come with no strings attached. Within the initiative’s employment program, 300 artists will be provided with funding in order to achieve gainful employment with salaried positions. These positions will be stationed at venues including community arts organizations all across the state of New York.

“Artists need and deserve to be paid predictable and regular incomes,” arts administrator Sarah Calderon, who’s leading the CRNY launch, said in a statement. “They are agents of social change, strengthening equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities. “By designing an artist-centered initiative and evaluating its impact, we can better determine how to ensure artists are represented as national workforce policies are developed.”

The Mellon Foundation’s New Initiative Will Pour $125 Million into Artist Support