On Monday, March 16, the Glass Art Society decided to refocus its efforts from the cancellation of its 2020 conference to connecting glass artists with resources in the face of the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. "As the situation in the States took a dramatic turn, Brandi [Clark, the executive director] led us to the decision to pivot," Lauren Bayer, communications and social media manager of the artist organization, told the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet. By Tuesday, a new "Emergency Relief" page on the GAS website resources page went live, offering more than 60 links to online videos, educational resources, and relief opportunities.
"We wanted to create an online place where artists don't have to comb through tons of links for two hours," Bayer said. "We want it to be a place where they can click and apply, click and apply."
The well-organized page presents color-coded categories of "Artist Emergency Grants and Relief Funds," "Webinars and Resource Lists," and "Teaching Remotely," in addition to a final catch-all category of links to reading and other resources. What is not on there are links to information about symptoms of the coronavirus, or how to prevent catching it.
"There is so much already out there," says Bayer. "I really wanted to refine our scope to arts organizations, to what would pertain to visual artists. As the Glass Art Society, we are not scientists, doctors, experts in public health, there are a lot of other places for that type of information. What we can do these are the resources that pertain to you as artists and what you’re going through."
The information on emergency grants can be sorted by geographic region, which Bayer says is important since so many of these opportunities are organized by local arts organizations. An example is the crowd-funded Seattle Arts Relief project which set out with a goal of $50,000 and has since reset to $300,000 after more than 1,000 artists applied for the $500 individual grants. (The public has kept donating, with nearly more than $180,000 raised at press time.)
Bayer, who holds a masters in arts management from Carnegie Mellon, also brings her experiences working for the Living Computers museum in Seattle for being able to make technical information clear and understandable, as well as a talent for organizing.
The Glass Art Society is currently working to launch its own glass-artist emergency relief grant program, according to Bayer, with a launch imminent.
One thing Bayer wants artists to know is that the page is not static, but is constantly being updated as the GAS staff discovers new resources, either through their own research or through suggestions from the public. Especially in the time-sensitive emergency grant section, it is worth coming back to the page to see what might have been added since your last visit.
Asked whether she has seen the inevitable scam artists emerging to take advantage of a moment of crisis, Bayer says aside from mental-health apps using this moment as an opportunity to push subscriptions, she hasn't seen any attempts to profit off this difficult situation.
"One of the great things about the glass and art communities is that artists support artists, both on social media and online in general," she said. "Artists are looking out for each other, that has kept a lot of scamming things down to a minimum."