Newport Festivals Foundation Announces COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund

Newport Folk Festival 2017
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– Newport Folk Festival 2017
A view of the crowd and bay from the top of Fort Adams during the Newport Folk Festival on July 30, 2017, in Newport, R.I.
This story has been updated with quotes from Executive Producer Jay Sweet
Newport Festivals Foundation is giving back to Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals artists by establishing a relief fund for musicians whose livelihood has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent ban on public gatherings. Announced March 30, the Newport Festivals Artists Relief Fund will provide rapid micro and full grants to musicians experiencing lost income as a result of the global pandemic. 
“It is with utmost hope that the Newport Folk and Newport Jazz Festivals will go on this summer, but in the meantime we feel the call to do more. We are in a unique position with our foundation, where we can go above and beyond and help provide support for our musicians community while other tours and festivals are cancelling due to COVID-19,” Executive Producer Jay Sweet said in a statement. “I want to be clear, this is not a fundraiser, these are funds that our Festival Foundation already allocates to annual giving. In this dark time, we feel blessed to be able to provide some small comfort for those whose songs carry us through each day.”
The Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund’s focus is on assisting musicians who have performed at Newport Jazz or Folk Festivals, as well as artists in the Rhode Island community. Other applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 
The submission process for the fund is open immediately, with two grant options: a one-time grant of $300 or less to cover immediate financial concerns or a full-grant of $300 or more to cover a significant portion of lost income related to coronavirus. The fund is limited to one submission per artist or group and to quality, musicians must submit links or files to show lost income from a performance or gig cancellation related to COVID-19. 
Grants will be reviewed on a weekly basis with funds sent out as soon as possible. Those who are not selected will be notified within a week of submission. 
Sweet talked to Pollstar the day after the fund was announced and said the amount of applications received has already been “overwhelming.” 
“It was a tidal wave and we are working our hardest to go through them. And it is just clear that the demand is far outweighing the supply. It’s quite obvious that sooner rather than later we’re going to have to try to do more,” Sweet said. 
He noted that before even putting out a call to action, people have already stepped up to donate to the foundation’s relief fund.  
“A lot of the [donors] are musicians helping musicians,and audience members [giving] in small small increments, of people just saying we need to do something. … Yesterday we had 50 people give between $5 and 10, it doesn’t sound like much but our grants are microgrants at the moment, it’s enough to help one band. Who knows, helping that one band could really make a difference.”
Sweet added, “It’s easy to feel paralyzed [by the effects of the pandemic]. It happens to me three or four times a day where I just  kind of look at my computer, and hearing these heart wrenching stories of artists, it can get overwhelming. But there’s no point in stopping. You realize you have to wake up everyday and you either get busy living or get busy dying. This is one thing I hope is contagious and viral – the desire to do something and give.”
The Newport Festivals Foundation was established to “foster the legacy and expand the impact of its Festivals through educational initiatives that celebrate innovation while preserving the deep traditions inherent in Jazz and Folk music.” The foundation’s initiatives include instrument donations and performances at schools in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. 
Newport Folk Festival is scheduled July 31 through Aug. 2 at Ft. Adams in Newport, R.I., followed by Newport Jazz Festival Aug. 7-9. 

Visit to apply for a grant. 

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