Many of Colorado’s artists and creative sector workers supplement their income by working in the service industry. It helps cover living expenses and often provides the flexibility to create in their chosen mediums. At the start of the pandemic, the Colorado Creative Industries team knew that these artists would be doubly affected, losing pay from two sources. Many would be without any income whatsoever, even as rent became due and groceries needed to be purchased.
So when the Colorado State Legislature established the Colorado Arts Relief Fund, it gave the CCI team the opportunity to do something truly unique. In addition to providing funding to arts organizations, the division was able to offer financial relief to individual artists navigating the pandemic—a group that doesn’t often qualify for this type of funding.
Across Colorado, photographers, painters, musicians and other creatives applied for Colorado Arts Relief grants from $1000 - $4000. They could use the funds quite broadly, for rent, groceries, equipment, training and even professional services. The intention was to give artists the flexibility to direct the funds where they were needed most—and in the process, help relieve some of the pressure that might otherwise keep them from their art.
The results are inspiring. From new music to new professional skills, Colorado artists from Boulder to Paonia and Dolores to Pueblo created works that inspire human connection and continue to make Colorado a vibrant place to call home. Here we are pleased to introduce you to four grant recipients, who share the impact of the grants in their own words:
Time for a Passion Project Leads to a New Commission
Robin Arthur, Abstract Artist, Paonia, Colorado
“Using this grant money to hire assistance with my website copy allowed me the time to work on a passion project of mine—painting the gorgeous mountain views that I see every day from my home high above Colorado's North Fork Valley overlooking the sweet little town of Paonia!
"Lo and behold, this respite from website work has led to big things! My paintings "Twinkle Valley" and “Star Splashed” were recently licensed by Qutori Wines in Paonia, CO to be on the labels for their 2020 Chardonnay and 2019 Pinot Noir. If not for this grant, I could not have hired help and spared the time away from commissioned work to paint the view that I love so much. This grant has raised my spirits, renewed my passion for my art, and is allowing me to spread my work further than I would have ever dreamed (via the labels of two great bottles of wine).”
See more of Robin’s work at www.robiniart.com.
Developing a New Artistic Profession to Provide for Family
Jhenn Whalen, Fine Artist and Tattoo Artist, Lakewood, Colorado
“Taking on an unpaid apprenticeship in order to learn new skills requires support - it’s a privilege most of us can’t afford. For years, I’ve struggled to find my place in the arts ecosystem; two degrees gave me no advantage as a fine artist trying to make a living.
"I was given an opportunity to transition to body art, a lucrative career with high demand. Without this grant funding, I wouldn’t have been able to make this courageous leap. In 3 months I created 100 tattoos and progressed out of an unpaid position. I feel like I finally have a real future in being able to provide for myself and my family.”
Check out Jhenn’s incredible work @jhenntattoos.
New Equipment Helps an Outdoor Photographer Capture the Southwest
Dan Holtz, Outdoor Photographer, Dolores, Colorado
“I am a SW Colorado-based photographer who specializes in active lifestyle, mountain sport and adventure travel. The generous grant I received from the Colorado Arts Relief Fund allowed me to upgrade my photo equipment which allows me to continue to capture and share visual stories from the field.” View more of Dan’s work at www.danholzmedia.com.
Producing New Music When the World Needed It the Most
Darren Garvey, Musician and Producer, Lyons, Colorado
“With income unreliable during the pandemic, CCI provided me with the resources to continue to release my art into the world. I am forever grateful for the grant funding that enabled me to share my single No Love Is Wrong. I was able to put it towards studio time at Swingfingers Recording Studios in Fort Collins, film a live video with NO COAST videographers out of Lyons, and release the official video with a talented animation team from Utrecht, Netherlands…all that and childcare expenses.” Meet Darren and see the video for No Love is Wrong at www.darrengarvey.com.