Emergency Funds for Writers

Written by S. Kalekar

These are 16 emergency funds for writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays, and for translators, freelance writers and journalists. Most have geographic restrictions; many are for US writers or creators, and a few don’t specify if there are any citizenship or residency requirements. Some have deadlines, some are on an ongoing basis, and a few are on a first-come-first-served basis.

Some are specific funds set up for the current health crisis. I’ve included a few sources for this list at the end, for writers and freelance workers in various fields, and most of these are being updated periodically. – S. Kalekar

PEN America Writers Emergency Funds
This is a fund for US-based fiction and nonfiction authors, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, translators, and journalists. Their website says, “PEN America is expanding its long-standing Writers’ Emergency Fund as part of our efforts to support the literary community at a time when the health and livelihoods of so many are at risk. We recognize that there are writers who no longer have access to any of the ways in which they have supported themselves, and that this has happened very suddenly and will last for a period none of us can predict. In response, PEN America will distribute grants of $500 to $1,000 based on applications that demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. … To be eligible, applicants must be based in the United States, be a professional writer, and be able to demonstrate that a small, one-time grant will be meaningful in helping them to address an emergency situation.” Details here.  

Authors League Fund
This emergency fund helps US-based writers, regardless of citizenship. It is for authors, dramatists, journalists, and poets. Recipients must be career writers with a substantial body of work in one of more of the following categories: 1) Book authors with at least one title published by an established traditional publisher. Authors with multiple titles are given priority; 2) Dramatists whose full-length plays have been produced in mid-size or large theaters and/or published by established dramatic presses; 3) Journalists, critics, essayists, short story writers, and poets with a substantial body of work in periodicals with a national or broad circulation. Common applicants include: writers of any age in ill health, or supporting a dependent family member in ill health; writers facing overwhelming medical or dental expenses; writers suffering financial crises unrelated to health, such as unexpected loss of income, temporary unemployment or underemployment, eviction proceedings, or similar; writers struggling after a natural disaster. Priority is given to sick and/or older authors in need. Details here.


American Society of Journalists and Authors: Writers Emergency Assistance Fund
The fund is for helping established freelance writers who, because of advanced age, illness, disability, a natural disaster, or an extraordinary professional crisis are unable to work. Writers need not be members of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), but must have credentials that would qualify them for an ASJA membership. Writers need not live in the US. Details here.

Dramatists Guild Foundation Emergency Grants
Dramatists Guild Foundation (DGF) provides one-time emergency financial assistance to individual playwrights, composers, lyricists, and bookwriters in dire need of funds due to severe hardship or unexpected illness. Their website says, As you are aware, news is constantly unfolding regarding new cases of COVID-19, in the US, and around the globe. In the midst of this situation, DGF will be processing Emergency Grants based on severity of need, especially as it relates to COVID-19.” DGF Emergency Grants regularly support costs associated with healthcare, childcare, housing, disability, natural disaster relief, and other unforeseen circumstances. Requests typically range between $500-$3,000. See their form for eligibility requirements. Details here

Writers’ Trust of Canada: Woodcock Fund
This is a last-resource emergency resource for Canadian writers who face unforeseen financial crisis, who are engaged in a book-length work. Writers should have published at least two books, or an equivalent body of work. Eligible categories are fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, or children’s literature. The program is not intended to be a means of support for writers challenged to earn an income. A crisis of some nature is necessary to be considered. Screenwriting, formulistic romance writing or journalism are not eligible. The fund amounts are typically $2,000-$10,000 (Canadian).
Details here and here.

SFWA Emergency Medical Fund

This is a fund created by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, to help SF/fantasy writers pay for funds not covered by medical insurance. The fund is only to cover short-term medical expenses, for emergencies that interfere with the ability to write. 
Details here.

The Haven Foundation Grants
This is a fund for legal US residents. This foundation, established by Stephen King, gives financial assistance to help established freelance artists, including authors and screenwriters, who have suffered disabilities or a career-threatening illness, accident, natural disaster or personal catastrophe. The deadline to apply is 17 July 2020, and applications have to be mailed. Details here.

Regarding Covid-19, their website lists the foundations they are giving funding to, since they do not give emergency grants, and encourage members of the fine arts community that have lost their work due to COVID-19 to apply. Details here.

Carnegie Fund for Authors
Their website says, “The applicant must be an American author who has published at least one full-length work — fiction or nonfiction — that has been published by a mainstream publisher. Applicants cannot have eligibility determined by a work that they paid to have published. A work may have been published in eBook format only, or in hardcover or softcover format, or in more than one format.
An applicant must demonstrate need; the emergency may be because of illness or some other urgent need such as fire, flood, hurricane, etc. Documentation should be included with the application: a doctor’s letter or other proof of the emergency situation.” Details here.

Shade Literary Arts: Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund
They have started a GoFundMe page for queer writers of color. The website says, the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak in the US and globally “has major affects on the literature community as a whole and puts queer writers of color in stressful situations … This fund is to help at least 100 queer writers of color who have been financially impacted by the current COVID-19. Priority will be given to queer trans women of color and queer disabled writers of color, but I hope this relief fund will help many queer writers of color it can.” An update on their page on 19 March says, “At this time, we are able to give the minimum of $100 and a maximum of $500. We are hoping to increase this as we get more donations.” Details here.

Bret Adams & Paul Reisch Foundation: Idea Awards COVID-19 Response Grant Lottery
This is a fund for playwrights, composers, lyricists, or librettists. You can apply if you have had a full professional production (defined for these purposes as a LORT, Off-Broadway, or Broadway production, not a reading or workshop) of which you are a writer that was cancelled, closed, or indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 closures. Their website says, “In response to the COVID-19 Theatre closures, we are redirecting our entire 2020 grant budget into emergency assistance grants of $2500 to playwrights, composers, librettists, and lyricists who have had a full professional show cancelled, closed, or indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19. We hope to be able to give up to 40 grants of $2,500.” The form will remain active until 14 April 2020, after which they will make a random selection. Details here.

Singapore Unbound Relief Fund
This is for Singapore citizens living anywhere in the world or permanent residents of Singapore, who are writers – playwrights, screenwriters, songwriters, journalists, art reviewers, and writers of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. The grant is for $200 or 280 Singapore dollars, with no strings attached, for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Details here.

Freelancers Union: Freelancers Relief Fund
Freelancers Relief Fund assistance is open to any independent worker in the US who has primarily earned income through freelance work for at least one year and has experienced a recent, sudden, and unforeseen hardship or loss of income as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those experiencing contract cancellations or loss of work due to social distancing measures, or those experiencing illness or caring for immediate family members infected with COVID-19. The fund will offer financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs, including: food/food supplies, utility payments, and cash assistance to cover income loss. 100% of all donations will be distributed directly to freelancers in need. Applications for funding will open on 2 April 2020. Details here.

International Women’s Media Foundation: COVID-19 Relief Fund
For the COVID-19 fund their website says, “The IWMF’s Journalism Relief Fund is open to women-identifying journalists in dire straits – journalists who have faced significant financial hardship, lost work, were recently laid off or who urgently need assistance to avoid severe, irreversible outcomes.
This fund will provide small grants of up to $2,000 USD per request though special consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis to those have greater financial need.” Apart from this they have an emergency fund for women journalists, where they provide small grants for psychological and medical care for incidents directly related to threats and crises caused by one’s work as a journalist; three months of temporary relocation assistance in the event of crisis or threat; legal aid to counter threats of imprisonment or censorship; and non-financial assistance in the form of information about additional access to resources. Details here.

The Society of Authors: Contingency Funds/Authors Emergency Funds
This fund is to help support authors impacted financially by the growing COVID-19 crisis. The Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the Royal Literary Fund (RLF), the T S Eliot Foundation in partnership with English PEN, and Amazon UK have contributed financial resources to create the Authors’ Emergency Fund, to help support authors impacted financially by the growing health crisis. Applications are open to all professional authors who are resident in the UK or British subjects – including all types of writers, illustrators, literary translators, scriptwriters, poets, journalists and others – for whom author-related activities make up a substantial amount of their annual income. Grants are likely to be up to £2,000 and designed to meet urgent need with the possibility of review as the situation continues. Details here.

Royal Literary Fund
The Royal Literary Fund (RLF) helps authors across the literary spectrum: novelists, poet and playwrights; writers of short stories and writers for children; crime writers, science writers, biographers. The circumstances of those they help vary greatly. Writers can apply for help from the RLF if they are suffering financial hardship and have had several works published in the UK for a general readership, without publication being subsidised. Self-published authors are not eligible. The RLF Committee has to pass applicants for literary merit before they are eligible for help. The committee meets eleven times a year to consider applications. A decision on literary merit and on the award of a grant/pension is made at the same meeting; the applicant is informed straightaway. Details here and here.

ConvertKit: The Creator Fund
Their website says, “We are providing financial assistance to active creators who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. If you have medical, childcare, housing, or grocery needs, please apply for assistance.” They aim to give $500 each to 100 creators. Details here.

A Note on Sources
Here are some of the sources used for researching this list, and most of these are being updated periodically. Some of these resources are not only for freelance writers, but for freelance artists and workers in a variety of fields, including for service workers, so please feel free to circulate those as you see fit.

I wish you the best of luck with your applications in these difficult times.

Coronavirus 2020 Artist Relief Fund (Google spreadsheet)
American Society of Journalists and Authors Resources Page
Academy of American PoetsCOVID-19 Resources for Poets and Poetry Organizations
Covid-19 Freelance Artists Resources
Artist TrustCOVID-19 Response & Recovery Resources
Creative CapitalList of Arts Resources During the COVID-19 Outbreak


Author Bio: S. Kalekar is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to this magazine. She is the author of 182 Short Fiction Publishers. She can be reached here.

 

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