July 17, 2020 (New York, NY)—Three national nonprofit literary arts organizations—the Academy of American Poets, Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), and National Book Foundation—have come together in a historic collaboration to establish the Literary Arts Emergency Fund, which will provide $3.5 million to the literary arts, a field that has been disastrously impacted by COVID-19. Regrants from this fund, made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be distributed by September 15, 2020.
According to the Americans for the Arts’ survey on the economic impact of COVID-19, 253 literary organizations reported over $7.2 million total losses to date.
“Writers create humanity’s vast and intricate record— they are the chroniclers of our joys and fears, our varied inner lives, our humor, anguish, and determination. This one-time emergency grant provides critical support both for these vital storytellers and for the organizations that ensure their written work remains accessible to enrich and deepen our collective engagement with a diverse, inclusive American culture,” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of the Mellon Foundation.
“Literary arts organizations and publishers are critical to sustaining a vibrant literary culture. At the same time, the literary arts field is one of the most underfunded in culture and therefore especially vulnerable. We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation and hope that other foundations and philanthropists will follow in their footsteps and support our work,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation.
The vast majority of our nation’s 235,000 working writers (the number of writers in the labor force according to the National Endowment for the Arts’ April 2019 report “Artists & Other Cultural Workers”) make their living and share their work outside of commercial publishing and for-profit venues.
Nonprofit literary organizations and publishers, of which there are approximately 300 nationwide, assist poets and writers by presenting them at thousands of events and by publishing and distributing thousands of poems, stories, and essays in books, magazines, and through open online archives. They also employ writers as teaching artists who bring literature into classrooms; offer workshops, festivals, and conferences; support the creative practice of poets and writers by providing millions of dollars in grants and fellowships; and honor the achievements of poets and writers, giving their work visibility. Together, these organizations reach more than 75 million readers each year.
Literary organizations and publishers may apply to the Literary Arts Emergency Fund for one-time emergency relief grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 from July 17, 2020, through August 7, 2020, by visiting literaryartsemergencyfund.submittable.com/submit, where guidelines can also be found. All correspondence concerning donating to the Literary Arts Emergency Fund should be directed to Jennifer Benka at [email protected].
The Literary Arts Emergency Fund is separate from Artist Relief, which provides emergency grants to individual artists and writers facing dire financial need due to COVID-19, though The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has supported both efforts and the Academy of American Poets is assisting with both as well.