Arts organizations establish 'Literary Arts Emergency Fund'

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By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — With a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, three major literary arts nonprofits have teamed to administer $3.5 million for organizations struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Along with the Mellon foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses and the National Book Foundation announced Friday that they had formed the Literary Arts Emergency Fund. The nonprofits will distribute one-time grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, with the application process running from Friday through Aug. 7.

The fund’s administrators noted a recent survey by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts that found 253 literary organizations had reported losses of more than $7.2 million because of the virus, often because of canceled events. The impact of those organizations is diverse and nationwide, whether bringing writers into classrooms, sponsoring festivals or awarding fellowships.

“Protecting organizations that exist to support writers is essential work,” the poet and Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander said in a statement. “It’s the primacy of storytelling and poems that offers comfort, courage, and critical mechanisms to change and advance the discourse in American culture, and begins to bridge the spaces that divide us.”

National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas told The Associated Press that the idea for an emergency fund came out of conversations among herself, poet academy director Jennifer Benka and Mary Gannon, director of the literary magazines and presses group.

“We were all talking about what was going on and how everybody was having trouble,” Lucas said. “Many of these organizations are small, wondering what's going top happen to them and what it feels like when there seems no help is coming.”

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Applications can be found on literaryartsemergencyfund.submittable.com/submit

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This story corrects the application deadline to Aug. 7.