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Relief Fund Set Up To Help Miami-Dade Visual Artists During COVID-19 Shutdowns

GeoVanna Gonzalez
Former Oolite Arts Resident Artist GeoVanna Gonzalez preparing for a solo exhibition. It was postponed because of COVID-19.

Along with countless other businesses, South Florida’s art galleries and exhibitions have had to shut down for the foreseeable future, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.


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But now an arts support group is offering some relief for Miami-Dade visual artists -- many of whom are self-employed and ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Oolite Arts has launched a relief fund for artists. It offers up to $500 to cover lost income due to coronavirus shutdowns.

Oolite Arts President and CEO Dennis Scholl says he’s heard some heartbreaking stories. One artist was just on the verge of launching a major project that he had been working on for over a year when the pandemic struck.

“If you are unfortunate enough to have your gallery show be scheduled for March or April or May or even June -- that’s something you might work toward for two years. And you wake up and it’s gone,” says Scholl.

The relief fund was initially seeded with $25,000 repurposed from Oolite’s own canceled events. But the fund quickly grew to over $100,000 -- thanks largely to commitments from two of Miami-Dade’s most famous philanthropic families, the Wolfson Family Foundation and Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation at The Miami Foundation.

“And perhaps as heartwarming -- many artists in the community that are still working have begun to send us small amounts to help their fellow visual artists out,” says Scholl.

To be eligible for the Oolite Arts Relief Fund, you must be a visual artist living in Miami-Dade County.

Please check out this Broward/Palm Beach New Times articlefor other similar funds supporting visual and performing artists throughout the coronavirus crisis.


Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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