Letter from the President re: Collaborative Funds

Apr 15, 2020


In the weeks since our last posting, the Jerome Foundation has continued to move forward in helping artists and arts organizations address the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to allowing more than $2.2M in project grants to be dedicated to general operating purposes and distributing more than $150,000 in emergency funds directly to Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship and Jerome Film/Video/Digital Production grantees, we have now awarded an additional total of $150,000 divided equally in support of four collaborative funds:

We are honored to support these exemplary efforts and to join many of our philanthropic colleagues in extending resources to artists and organizations even beyond those we directly fund.

Those of us who remember the impact of the 2008 global fiscal crisis and of 9/11 on arts organizations and artists will recall the inspiring way in which many donors—including both organized philanthropy and individual donors—responded immediately in the wake of the crises, digging deep and increasing their contributions. But we will also remember how many donors saw these as one-time efforts and how donations fell dramatically a year later, before the impact of events had been fully addressed. We have therefore consciously calibrated our response in this moment, in large part to protect our ability to respond a year from now as we confront needs or impacts that cannot yet be foreseen.

In the meantime, we continue to monitor the ways in which the arts community is responding to the pandemic. We recognize that many artists and organizations are facing agonizing decisions in navigating these uncertain times. Yet we are also inspired by the ways in which the arts are finding new ways to connect, as both artists and organizations think not only about their own needs and their own survival but also about how they can best be of service, value and ongoing relevance to the larger communities in which they live. If, as has been said, it is wrong to let any crisis go to waste, this pandemic for all of its disruptive power is affording us the opportunities to reflect, clarify, recommit or possibly rethink what we want to do and to be for the longer term.

Here at the Foundation, we have affirmed our commitment again to early career artists, to our values of innovation/risk, diversity and humility, and have chosen to move forward with previously announced deadlines for applications in hopes of putting funds into artists’ hands as soon as possible. Our small staff of four is running at full tilt, holding webinars and individual sessions with potential applicants, even as we work to distribute grants funds and complete the myriad administrative tasks that come our way in April, the last month of our fiscal year. We look forward to being of service to you if we can be, even while we hope you will be patient if we are not able to respond instantly to your questions or requests. And of course we most look forward to the day we can gather with you in the same spaces, whether our offices or your arts centers so that we can continue to “conspire”—literally, “to breathe the same air”—for the sake of our communities and our nation as a whole.

We send you all best wishes for your continued health and well-being in these most challenging of times.