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Virginia Artists To Receive State Grants Amid Pandemic

monroe harris stands at a podium
Monroe Harris, board of directors president for the VMFA, announced the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program awards on Tuesday. (Roberto Roldan/VPM)

Forty visual artists, struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, received grants through the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program. 

In partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the fellowship program provides $5,000 grants to artists facing financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. A recent study by Americans For The Arts found that two-thirds of all artists have experienced income loss during the pandemic. 

Speaking at an award ceremony on Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam acknowledged that everyone is struggling right now, but said artists are helping Virginians to get through it.

“Nobody is immune from COVID-19 and for you to be able to continue your work and to allow us to deal with our stress and anxieties, there’s no more important time for the arts and music,” Northam said.

According to VMFA officials, more than 350 people applied for the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program. Only 40 were selected for the fellowship. The artists are from across the state and use various media, such as painters, sculptors and digital artists.

Local award winners include muralist Hamilton Glass and painter S. Ross Browne

Browne, who’s paintings challenge historical narratives around race, said the award will provide him with the ability to continue to create despite the slowing economy.

“For me, the award means a few months of being able to focus on my work,” he said. “Most professional artists have studios and, you know, rents not cheap.”

Funding for the award comes from the VMFA’s endowment.