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Bay Area Funders And The City Of Oakland Launch Relief Fund To Supports Individual Artists And Arts Workers In Alameda And Contra Costa Counties

$625,000 will be awarded in direct grants to artists, and cultural and nonprofit arts workers

Oakland, May 18, 2020 – Today, the East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) announced its support for the East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts (EBORFIA). In collaboration with the City of Oakland, numerous philanthropic institutions, and individuals in the region, this relief fund will grant out $625,000 to artists and culture workers living in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties with at least $300,000 dedicated specifically to residents of Oakland.

Qualifying submissions will receive direct aide to assist artists, teaching artists, culture bearers, and nonprofit arts workers from historically underserved communities who are economically vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many artists and culture workers lack access to unemployment insurance, which is why people receiving unemployment benefits are ineligible. Individuals may apply once for up to $2,000 of unrestricted funds that can be used in any way that alleviates financial hardship.

“With this Relief Fund, we’re investing directly in our most vulnerable artists and culture workers, who have been incredibly hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Arts and culture are woven into the fabric of Oakland. And the work of these culture place keepers is needed more than ever to help us make sense of these difficult times. I’m grateful to this public/private partnership of funders who’ve stepped forward to support our diverse artistic communities.”

The EBORFIA will be administered by The Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), a nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of services to people in the arts, culture, and creative labor sectors. Stakeholders including EBCF that contributed to the pooled fund include the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Akonadi Foundation; City of Oakland, Cultural Affairs Division; Richard Diebenkorn Foundation; Fleishhacker Foundation; Gerbode Foundation; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman; Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund; Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation; and individual donors.

EBCF’s participation comes via The Shuler-Heimburger Family Fund, honoring the memory and legacy of arts funding established by Patti Heimburger. Ms. Heimburger passed away in 2019 and was a treasured asset to the region through her devotion to arts focused programming and projects.

“Artists play a unique role in inspiring and unifying communities, and there was no individual that recognized this more than Patti Heimburger” said James Head, the East Bay Community Foundation’s President and CEO. “They have the ability to dismantle systems with the stroke of a brush, and philanthropy has the duty to provide the canvas and tools for them to do so. Now more than ever people need hope during the age of COVID-19, and art is the underlying denominator.”

As COVID-19 has no foreseeable end in the near future, CCI will continue to accept and seek donations from individuals and institutions who would like to contribute. Prospective donors can contact Laura Poppiti, CCI Grants Program Director, at laura@cciarts.org if they would like to support artists with a tax-deductible contribution. Applicants with questions can contact CCI at grants@cciarts.org or (415) 288-0530.

How To Apply

Applications will be accepted beginning May 18 at 9 a.m. PDT through June 5 at 5 p.m. PDT.
Completed applications must be submitted by the deadline—no exceptions will be made.
The East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts online application can be accessed at: https://www.cciarts.org/EastBayOaklandRelief.htm
Submissions will be accepted online ONLY through CCI’s GO Smart™ system. All new applicants MUST register for an account with the GO Smart™ system before they will be able to access the grant application.

About East Bay Community Foundation

Founded in 1928, and supported by over 400 local donors, the East Bay Community Foundation connects donors with community-led movements to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and create an inclusive, fair, and just East Bay. Recognized as 2019’s “Boldest Community Foundation” by Inside Philanthropy, EBCF is committed to ensuring that all members of our community are treated fairly, with equitable opportunity and outcomes. EBCF has charitable assets under management of over $800 million.

About the Center for Cultural Innovation 

The Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) was founded in 2001 as a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Its mission is to promote knowledge sharing, networking, and financial independence for individuals in the arts by providing business training, grants, and incubating innovative projects that create new program knowledge, tools and practices for artists in the field, and conditions that contribute to realizing financial self-determination. More at cciarts.org.


Media Contact
Erin Talbert-Brust
Senior Communications Officer
(510) 208-0822