In 1985, glassblower Josh Simpson began collecting money during craft shows, together with Carol Sedestrom Ross (president of a craft fair), in an effort to support fellow artists who found themselves in desperate financial circumstances because of an emergency. This early informal effort grew into the nonprofit organization known as CERF+, which now has a full-time staff based in Montpelier, Vermont, and distributes grants and loans to artists, produces informative brochures about planning for disasters, and also advocates for the craft field in Washington, D.C. The COVID-19 pandemic, which is rapidly shaping up as a global health and economic emergency, is likely to impact artists and arts nonprofits around the world. CERF+ has quickly set up the "CERF+ COVID-19 Response Fund," a grant program for which they are collecting donations.
Currently, the new fund is reserved for artists who have tested positive for COVID-19, and who require intensive medical care. The CERF+ fund links to a an inquiry questionaire, which reads: "In light of the anticipated volume of requests for assistance, for the time-being, CERF+'s emergency relief grants related to Covid-19 will focus on those infected with the virus that require intensive medical care."
In addition to providing a long list of links to resources, CERF+ is also conducting a confidential survey to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the lives and careers of artists working with craft materials. "CERF+ is conducting a national survey of studio based artists to understand the challenges they are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic," the website reads. "The data gathered will help the nonprofit advocate for artists to assist them in applying for federal emergency relief funding. It will also help CERF+ to advocate for craft artists.
The CERF+ Website links toa SurveyMonkey form with a small series of questions about everything from estimates of lost income due to the virus through demographic information.
"We need this data to advocate for artists and other self-employed workers to access various federal emergency relief packages from the federal government. The survey will also help us better understand how we can be most helpful to you," CERF+ stated in an eblast they sent about their survey initiative.