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Newark Mayor Launches Creative Catalyst Fund For Artists and Art Organizations Impacted By COVID-19


originally published: 04/02/2020

Newark Mayor Launches Creative Catalyst Fund For Artists and Art Organizations Impacted By COVID-19

(NEWARK, NJ) -- On April 2, 2020, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka  launched the Creative Catalyst Fund to provide artists and art groups with flexible grant support during the Coronavirus crisis and beyond. This program is the fourth of his six initiatives announced to help adversely affected Newark residents and small businesses.

In January 2020, Mayor Baraka announced a broad vision for the City’s cultural sector to encourage equitable funding for the arts that sustains the creative community and grassroots arts organizations. His arts initiatives included the creation of the City of Newark’s first arts grant program, the Creative Catalyst Fund, to ensure that the arts continue to thrive. In light of the COVID-19 crisis and its future impact on Newark’s creative sector, the City of Newark has streamlined the design of the Fund as much as possible to allow for flexibility in how grantees may use awarded funds.

In collaboration with Newark Arts, the Fund will support the local community of artists as well as small-to-midsize arts and cultural organizations, all of which provide social and economic value to the City of Newark by revitalizing neighborhoods, inspiring students, and generally improving the quality of life for city residents. The Fund will provide up to $1 million dollars annually for at least the next three years, beginning with $750,000 provided by the City to seed the initiative.

 “Newark is a ‘City of the Arts,’ where access to spoken-word events, musical and dance performances, film, art exhibits, theatre offerings, museums and libraries add exponentially to our economic health,” said Mayor Baraka.

“The impact of our arts community is felt in our neighborhoods, our businesses, our institutions, and our households, and contributes to the revitalization that Newark is experiencing. As a result of the coronavirus, Newark’s artists and creatives,   their organizations and those who support and employ them are being negatively impacted. No strategy to help Newark residents and businesses get through the cononavirus crisis is complete without attention to the health of the arts community. I appeal to our foundations and individuals to contribute to this fund,” he added.

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Contributions can be made through Newark Arts; email info@newarkarts.org with Creative Catalyst Fund in the subject line.

Applications for the grants are now available online until Friday, May 1, 2020.

A webinar describing the application process will be held Monday, April 6, at 2:00pm. Participants can register to attend the online information session at Eventbrite.

Prospective applicants can choose between two grant streams, based on eligibility:

  • General operating support for which Newark-based non-profit arts and cultural organizations with annual operating budgets up to $2 million are eligible and with a grant range of $2,500 - $50,000. Grants over $5,000 must be matched by funds raised from other sources.

  • Artist Fellowships for which Newark-based individual artists or unincorporated artist collectives working in any artistic discipline are eligible.  The grant range is $1,000 - $10,000. There is no matching requirement.


“Newark’s economic and cultural vibrancy is rooted in the arts community,” said Jeremy Johnson, Executive Director of Newark Arts. “We at Newark Arts are committed to working with the City of Newark to bolster the diverse core of artists, arts organizations, and creative businesses who are on the frontline of education, equity, and artistic expression. We will need art, and plenty of it to help emerge from the current crisis and to build on the recommendations of the Newark Creates cultural plan.”

The arts contribute more than $178 million to Newark’s economy, create more than 5,000 local jobs and generate $15.5 million in local and state taxes.

“The Creative Catalyst Fund will encourage public and private partnerships as well as long-term sustainability, investment, equitable funding of Newark based arts and cultural organizations and provide much needed relief,” said Arts and Cultural Affairs Director Fayemi Shakur. “These partnerships with Newark Arts and the City’s Department of Economic and Housing Development are our first major collaborations that are informed by the Newark Creates cultural plan.”

The Fund aligns with Newark Creates, a cultural plan researched and developed by Newark Arts, and made final in 2019. Newark Creates is a collaborative plan on behalf of the City. The plan, funded by Prudential and The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, details an 18-month organized initiative of community members, nonprofit, for-profit, and governmental stakeholders working together to advance an equitable foundation for Newark to thrive with arts and culture.




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