When the first cases of COVID-19 began to arrive in Oregon and people headed home, artists, like everyone else, were caught in a last-minute scramble to adapt.
"The majority of my work—concerts, readings, lessons, workshops—had moved online, and my creakly old laptop was barely able to function," recalls Central Oregon singer-songwriter and poet Beth Wood, for whom touring was a full-time gig before March of 2020. Since then, she's launched a Patreon community where fans can support her financially, started working part-time outside of music and poetry and began teaching private lessons and workshops to make ends meet.
In addition, a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission's Artist Resilience Program has helped her stay afloat.
Wood was among dozens of artists in Deschutes County—and among many more statewide—who received a grant from the program in 2020. Now, the program is announcing a new round of funding, awarding between $1,000 and $5,000 to professional artists who experienced a loss of revenue in 2021. Administered by the Oregon Arts Commission in partnership with Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, the 2022 round of funding sets aside $1.5 million for Oregon artists.
"With the artist resilience grant, I was able to buy a new laptop and also fund some studio time to make a recording for my Patreon community," Wood told the Source. "The beginning of the shutdown was so scary for performing artists and gig workers because all of our jobs went away. Art is not always valued in our society, so it was deeply meaningful and encouraging to have this support come out of the blue."
During the last round, 25 artists in Deschutes County were granted funds. Kiel Fletcher, a senior instructor in ART/AMT at Oregon State University-Cascades, was another of the grantees.
"I had a number of shows and classes canceled that were planned for 2020 specifically over the summer when I am not on contract at OSU," Fletcher wrote via email. "The funding helped to make my studio practice less stressful, covering costs for shows that weren't canceled or postponed."
The same went for Susie Zeitner, a full-time, self-employed artist who owns and operates Z Glass Act Studio in Sisters. For her, the grant funding helped her to buy photography equipment, allowing her to better market her work via quality photos.
"With the onset of the COVID pandemic, my income had dropped severely and I wouldn't have been able to purchase that equipment anytime soon," she said. "I so appreciated that award and opportunity. Good photographs are key to creating interest and exposure for my work."
Artists interested in applying for the latest round of funding have until 5pm on Thurs., Feb. 10 to apply by visiting oregonartscommission.org.
"In reaching Oregon's artists, we know we are not only supporting these individuals financially, but also enabling them to continue their creative careers and enliven the cultural environments of Oregon," said Brian Rogers, executive director of the OAC in a press release.
The Artist Resilience Program accepts artists from the following disciplines: Literature (creative non-fiction, fiction, play writing and poetry); dance (including choreography); music (composition and music performance); theatre and performance art; visual arts (crafts, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, mixed media and new media); design arts; folk & traditional arts and media arts.