Executive Director of CERF+
Cornelia Carey is no stranger to artist emergencies. CERF+ is an organization founded as a grassroots mutual aid effort and Carey has been its executive director for more than 20 years, helping artists survive unforeseen disasters. The coronavirus pandemic, though, is different. “It’s nothing you can plan around,” she said. “The duration and scale of the disaster paired with a lack of relief from the government make that impossible.”
Although the scale of need outstrips any organization’s capacity, CERF+ has been able to put its experience to work and make smart, strategic decisions. “We’re investing in advocacy,” Carey told Observer. At the same time, they’ve been enormously successful in their fundraising efforts. “I have been blown away by how generous individuals and institutions have been,” Carey said, reporting over a million dollars raised from individuals alone. According to the executive director, a mention by Bernie Sanders generated $27,000, mostly in small donations. This year, the organization’s budget will be more than twice its normal size, at $2.5 million.