The ideas behind Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) aren’t new — but the sense of urgency behind its implementation is very new: Inspired by the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) Artists Project of 1978-1980, Creatives Rebuild New York is an extension of Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander’s work on the Governor Cuomo’s Reimagine New York Commission in 2021, created as a response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The initiative was further developed in collaboration with Emil J. Kang, Program, Director for Arts and Culture and Creatives Rebuild New York’s Executive Director Sarah Calderon, who was previously managing director of ArtPlace America.
Creatives Rebuild New York officially launched last Spring, as part of a growing national movement of broad-based employment programs that put artists back to work. All of these vital relief programs have helped thousands of artists maintain their artistic practices and maintain their livelihoods while mitigating financial disaster, heavily influenced by the pandemic.
Rooted in the belief that improving the lives of artists is paramount to the vitality of New York State’s collective social and economic well-being, Creative Rebuild New York’s programs build further upon COVID-19 relief, to envision longer-term, sustainable opportunities for artists across the State.
- CRNY’s Artist Employment Program (AEP): A 2-year program that will fund employment for 300 artists working collaboration with community-based organizations across New York State. Participating artist will receive a salary of $65,000 per year (commensurate with the median household income in the state), plus benefits and decimated time to focus on their artistic practice. Community-based organizations will receive $25,000-$100,000 per year to support their collaboration with those artists.
- CRNY’s Guaranteed Income for Artists: An 18-month program that will provide, regular, no-strings attached cash payments for artists in the state, who have — and of course, show — financial need. Each artist selected receives $1,000 per month. The Guaranteed Income for Artists program aims to help artists meet their basic needs outside of traditional or merit-based grants. This program, is part of a larger national discussion that municipalities, policymakers, community leaders and activities across the country are engaging in about guaranteed income and economic stability for those, who are living with financial need.
Late last year, I came across a friend and colleague’s Instagram story, which mentioned Creatives Rebuild New York. I looked up their website and immediately saved their homepage on my browser history and began following them on Facebook. Back in February, they opened up applications to the public — and I put in an application as quickly as I could.
Some 60,000 artists and creatives applied. In mid April, I learned that I was pre-selected for the Guaranteed Income for Artists program. After going through a detailed background and income check, I got an email the other day from CRNY that said that I was one of those 2,400 folks receiving the income grant. I actually needed a few days to put my thoughts together because I was feeling a lot of different things – – including, relief, vindication, pride, satisfaction.
This money will help me continue my work with JOVM — and for that, I feel it’ll be life changing. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that CRNY won’t regret it. So, thank you folks at Creatives Rebuild New York. Thank you so very much.