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New York isn’t New York without artists.

$125M toward Artists' Futures

Artists inspire us and illuminate our shared human experience. They are storytellers and preserve our histories. Artists in communities imagine new approaches to our greatest challenges and bring their creativity to everything from building collective power and facilitating collaboration, to cultivating individual agency and advancing well-being.

Artists are also critical to the health of our economy. Arts and culture contribute $120 billion to New York State’s economy and are a main driver of the state’s $177 billion tourism industry. The sector also accounts for nearly half a million jobs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, New York State lost 50 percent of its performing arts jobs over the course of 2020. In New York City, the figure is 72 percent—more than any other industry. To fully recover the health of our economy and our communities, we must place artists at the center of large-scale investment and relief efforts. Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) was conceived to do just that.

CRNY is a three-year, $125 million investment in the financial stability of New York State artists and the organizations that employ them. CRNY will provide guaranteed income and employment opportunities for 2,700 artists whose primary residence is in New York State. These two programs will work to alleviate unemployment of artists, continue the creative work of artists in partnership with organizations and their communities, and enable artists to continue working and living in New York State under less financial strain.

CRNY aims to catalyze systemic change in the arts and cultural economy, recognize the value of artists’ contributions, and reshape society’s understanding of artists as workers who are vital to the health of our communities. Simply put, we must move beyond valuing the artistic product and begin to value the humanity of the artist. Artists need and deserve to be paid predictable and regular incomes.

Artist Employment Program

CRNY’s Artist Employment Program (AEP) is a 2-year program that will fund employment for 300 artists working in collaboration with community-based organizations across New York State. Participating artists will receive a salary of $65,000 per year (commensurate with median household income in New York State) plus benefits and dedicated time to focus on their artistic practice. Community-based organizations will receive $25,000-$100,000 per year to support their collaborations with these artists.

The Artist Employment Program application period closed on March 25, 2022. The program guidelines will remain available for reference throughout the selection process.

Guaranteed Income for Artists

CRNY’s Guaranteed Income for Artists program will provide regular, no-strings-attached cash payments for 2,400 artists who have financial need. Each artist will receive $1,000 per month for 18 consecutive months. Our guaranteed income work joins with that of municipalities, policymakers, community leaders, and activists from across the US who are engaging in public conversations about guaranteed income and economic stability for community members who are living with financial uncertainty. CRNY’s Guaranteed Income for Artists program aims to help artists meet their basic needs outside of traditional or merit-based grantmaking.

The Guaranteed Income for Artists application period closed on March 25, 2022.  The program guidelines will remain available for reference throughout the selection process.

Designed by artists, for artists

Artists have served as critical thought-partners in the conceptualization and implementation of the Guaranteed Income for Artists and Artist Employment programs. As key members of CRNY’s Leadership Council and Think Tank, artists helped shape both programs to address the specific employment needs and unique challenges artists face in building a long-term sustainable livelihood.

The Think Tank, which convened in bi-monthly gatherings from September to December 2021, included a diverse coalition of New York State artists, scholars, strategists, and organizers whose wide-ranging identities and lived experiences represent the communities that CRNY’s programs aim to reach.  The Think Tank co-created both the Guaranteed Income for Artists and Artist Employment programs through collaborative decision-making processes which were documented and archived to serve as a model for others interested in co-design. We will be sharing more about the Think Tank process in the coming months.

How CRNY defines 'artist'

An artist, culture bearer, or culture maker (‘artist’) is someone who regularly engages in artistic or cultural practice to: express themselves with the intention of communicating richly to or sharing with others; pass on traditional knowledge and cultural practices; offer cultural resources to their communities; and/or co-organize and co-create within communities toward social impacts. Artists aspire to sustain themselves through their practice and maintain a commitment to continuing their practice. Artists can work both individually and collaboratively, or as educators within their field of practice.

Artistic and cultural practice includes: Craft, Dance, Design, Film, Literary Arts, Media Arts, Music, Oral Traditions, Social Practice, Theater, Performance Art, Traditional Arts, Visual Arts, and Interdisciplinary Arts. Click here for a detailed description of each discipline.

Our values

CRNY is committed to confronting racial and wealth inequities and to developing effective strategies that move the New York State arts and culture ecosystem toward an equitable future. The Guaranteed Income for Artists and Artist Employment programs have been designed to reach artists deeply rooted in and reflective of populations that face structural barriers to financial security, with specific attention to addressing the pandemic’s startling and disparate impact on artists who come from, and serve, communities of color.

CRNY’s ethical framework prioritizes transformative, caring support for artists; trust in and respect for program participants; worker solidarity and labor acknowledgement; reparative, equitable access to funds and opportunities; and an invitation to challenge and reimagine existing systems and institutions.

Our timeline
  • July 1, 2021 — Leadership Council announced
  • August 31, 2021 — Think Tank members announced
  • Sept 13-Dec 15, 2021 — Think Tank gatherings to co-design programs
  • February 14, 2022 — Application guidelines released
  • March 25, 2022 — Deadline to submit applications
  • April 15, 2022 — Guaranteed Income for Artists participants notified of selection
  • June 2022 — Artist Employment Program participants announced
Philanthropic partners

CRNY represents a $125 million funding commitment, anchored by $115 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and $5 million each from the Ford Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

CRNY is a fiscally sponsored project of Tides Center. As a champion for progress and innovation, Tides provides CRNY with the organizational and operational support to help CRNY reach its mission.

Background, beginnings, and future of CRNY

The ideas are not new, but the sense of urgency is. Artists have been grappling with these issues for some time. Inspired by the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) Artists Project of 1978–80, Creatives Rebuild New York is an extension of Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander’s work on the Governor’s Reimagine New York Commission in 2021. The initiative was further developed in collaboration with Emil J. Kang, Program Director for Arts and Culture at Mellon, and CRNY’s Executive Director Sarah Calderon, who was previously managing director of ArtPlace America.

CRNY officially launched in Spring 2021 amidst a national movement of broad-based employment programs that put artists back to work. These vital relief programs have helped thousands of artists maintain their livelihoods and mitigate financial disaster amidst an ongoing global pandemic. Now, rooted in a belief that improving the lives of artists is paramount to the vitality of New York State’s collective social and economic wellbeing, CRNY’s programs build upon COVID-19 relief to envision longer-term, sustainable opportunities for artists across New York State.

Following the launch of the Guaranteed Income for Artists and Artist Employment programs, CRNY will conduct a range of research, advocacy, and narrative change efforts with a strong commitment to equitable evaluation practices and artist-centered storytelling. These efforts will be designed with an eye towards replicability and integration of learnings into policy at the local, state, and national levels. Artists and organizations who elect to participate in these efforts will be compensated for their contributions.

Portrait of New York State Artists

CRNY seeks to create a portrait of the needs, circumstances, and experiences of artists across New York State. We will use this portrait to conduct advocacy and narrative change work, and to assess whether the funding provided through CRNY’s programs helps meet the needs of individual artists in any substantive or transformational ways.

Upon submission of an application to the Guaranteed Income for Artists or Artist Employment Program, artists were invited to answer additional questions, all optional, about their artistic practice, financial circumstances, well-being, pandemic experience, and attitudes about policy and advocacy matters. Choosing to respond to these additional questions does NOT impact an applicant’s likelihood of receiving CRNY funding. All responses are strictly confidential, and anonymized before they are viewed.

For those not interested or eligible to apply for CRNY funding, a publicly accessible version of the survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NYS-Artists. The public survey will close on May 23, 2022 (deadline has been extended from May 2nd).

Respondents can opt-in to be entered in the Portrait of New York State Artists Giveaway (a drawing to receive an iPad Pro 12.9”, Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, or a one-year membership to a museum or cultural institution of your choice). Click here to view the complete Portrait of New York State Artists Giveaway Rules.

Get in touch with us

We’re sure you have questions. Please visit our Contact page to sign up for CRNY’s newsletter or find out how to reach us.