Local artists were financially stranded when COVID-19 left them without an audience for their work. The MAC CARES program brought relief.
- Story by Steve Barney
White has recently announced his retirement from MAC, and in one of his last acts as executive director, he has overseen another unprecedented emergency relief effort for artists and organizations across the state.
In April of 2020, in response to the economic devastation of COVID-19 on the arts sector, the Mississippi Arts Commission established a series of emergency grants programs. The MAC CARES program provided one-time grants to non-profit arts organizations in Mississippi to provide immediate financial support.
Funding for this program comes from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through the federal CARES Act. MAC has received $441,100 from the NEA to distribute in Mississippi. This program has been important in keeping many art organizations across the state on life support over the past few months.
Many working artists in Hancock County and across the coast fall through the cracks of CARES funding programs, and they have seen their livelihoods disappear and financial stability threatened in the wake of COVID-19. Malcolm and his program staff responded to this need and in July, created the new Rapid Response Grant program.
Through this program, MAC has awarded an unprecedented level of direct support to The Arts, Hancock County and its artist members. The program was created in a few short weeks, to support established and emerging professional artists by providing funds to assist with professional training, promotional efforts, purchase of expendable supplies, and to adapt their artistic work to an online setting.
“The Rapid Response grants present an opportunity for MAC to provide relief funds to Mississippi’s individual artists and organizations who have not already received COVID-19 related relief funds from MAC this year,” White said. He added, “We know the arts have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, and we have adapted our funding to best respond to the changing needs of the arts community.”
The agency’s staff worked around the clock with local artists to ensure funds are dispersed immediately.
The Arts, Hancock County received a grant to enhance development of virtualartsalive.com, an online art experience offering high resolution image gallery, demonstration videos and online ordering. This project is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part, from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Other Hancock County-based arts organizations are receiving support through the program as well, including The Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum; Music, Art, Practicality (MAP); and others.
As a benefit to its members and the local arts community, The Arts, Hancock County provided assistance to artists in filing successful grant applications. For many of the artists, it was their first grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.
Multimedia artist Sabrina Stallworth will use her grant to purchase materials for a new leatherworking curriculum for youth. Stallworth said, “This is a game-changer for me in moving closer to my dreams of helping others to use their imagination in a creative, therapeutic way.”
Partial list of area artists receiving Mississippi Arts Commission Rapid Response Grants: