COVID-19 Fundraiser Raises $31,000 for Pittsburgh Artists

Friday, 10 July 2020 10:24 AM Written by 

By early March 2020, businesses small and large were shutting their doors. Events across the state were being canceled with no word on rescheduling. Schools were shifting to virtual learning. The coronavirus pandemic was taking hold of our communities in unprecedented ways. And Pittsburgh-area artists were left with no upcoming exhibitions, shows, residencies, performances, or gigs - essential sources of income.

Three Pittsburgh-area artists and community organizers were among the first to take action in support of the creative community. Julie Mallis, Joshua Orange, and sarah huny young - all personally affected by the pandemic - started the PGH Artist Emergency Fund on GoFundMe. Within two days, $10,000 had been raised to benefit local artists. At the time, artists could apply for up to $250 through the fund to help offset financial losses due to cancelled gigs and jobs.

Joshua Orange, sarah huny young, and Julie Mallis

Joshua Orange, sarah huny young, and Julie Mallis

"These three artists went above and beyond to help their community," said Christiane Leach, artist relations manager at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. "The innovative and swift nature of their efforts during an unprecedented time helped many people and showcases the importance of our arts community."

During the first weeks of the pandemic, the GoFundMe raised more than $31,000 from 512 donors to support Pittsburgh-area artists. However, with such a sizable fund and hundreds of applicants, the organizers realized they needed help.

"We've made a fantastic partner in the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council," said the organizers in a GoFundMe update. "They have agreed to partner with us to manage the withdrawal and distribution aspects of our campaign. They will honor all the distributions we've already approved, and have been extremely amicable and helpful in this process."

The Arts Council was operating a similar emergency fund that also supported artists affected by the pandemic, explained Mitch Swain, CEO of the Arts Council. "It just made sense for us to extend a hand to huny, Joshua and Julie. We already had the administrative processes ready to go. We're all working toward the same goal: support our arts community."

Through the efforts of both emergency funds, hundreds of Pittsburgh-area artists received financial assistance to help pay bills, rent, groceries, or any other essential needs.

About the GoFundMe Organizers

sarah huny young is an award-winning visual artist documenting Black womanhood and queer communities through portraiture and video. Framing her subjects as co-curators, she often shoots on-location in personal, intimate spaces of the subject's choosing. Currently, huny owns and operates creative agency Supreme Clientele, is a founding and executive board member of Carnegie Museum of Art's Carnegie Art Associates, and produces and DJs music events via the Mostbeautifullest collective.

Julie Mallis is the City Director of the social justice based service organization, Repair The World Pittsburgh. They have been organizing youth programs and creative endeavors for the past 12 years in Pittsburgh. Mallis is a multimedia artist, VJ, DJ and educator working with digital media, paint, installation, performance, sound and audience interaction. Their work focuses on building community, audio-visual experiences, speaking truth, and imagining new landscapes. Follow them at @JulieMallisArt or visit Image by sarah huny young.

Joshua Niko Orange is a Detroit-born/Pittsburgh-based multimedia artist and legislative policy analyst working with State Representative Summer Lee. Experience with a dynamic range of community development corporations, educational institutions, unions, political organizations, advocacy groups, state and municipal governments, nonprofits, fellowships and living contexts has granted Joshua the fortune of exposure to multifarious positions and perspectives. This has informed Joshua's contribution to legislation and policy in Michigan and Pennsylvania, which is always centered around sustainable infrastructural development and equity in personal, institutional and systemic contexts. Joshua helped found and operate OU_RS – a Community Collective that provides a platform to augment and develop artists (and people interested in the arts) by providing resources and opportunities for growth and learning. OU_RS and its members contribute to, and collaborate with, a wide range of artists and other organizations to produce events that create positive social impacts. Their work has been appreciated by audiences across the nation. Image by Emma Vescio.


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