How artists, entertainers & gig workers can apply for financial assistance in the wake of COVID-19

Grants + unemployment offices by state

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on so many across the world. From traumatic health effects to job loss, so many are struggling right now. It’s never been more apparent that we all need to work together for a common cause. To that end, focused assistance can be especially beneficial in these difficult times.

Many professionals — including artists, entertainers and gig workers — are seeing their livelihoods put on hold.

Musicians can’t play gigs. Artists can’t hold gallery showings. Actors can’t film movies. And gig workers in a variety of industries — from self-employed freelance writers to rideshare drivers — are taking a huge financial hit.

With this in mind, it’s imperative that those whose income has been truncated get the help they need. Now.

Here, we’ve compiled some resources for entertainers, artists and most independent contractors and self-employed people to help you find the financial assistance you need as quickly as possible.

Related: How to make ends meet when live gigs are cancelled

Disclaimer: The programs mentioned in this article are offered by individual companies, organizations and the federal government, not GoDaddy. Please see the linked pages for applicable terms, restrictions and instructions governing all programs.


Grants are something that artists and creatives could apply for even before the pandemic began. However, they become even more pertinent now as many incomes have ceased overnight.

Grants and other forms of financial aid can still serve as a stop gap measure to help ensure no one sinks during this time of crisis.


Here are a few options:

National Endowment for the Arts

This federal organization regularly offers grants to individuals, groups and other organizations to assist with pursuing artistic endeavors.

However, they’ve compiled a list of relief efforts specifically for those impacted by COVID-19.

Some of these are individual organizations that are providing grants or loans while others are resources themselves that compile lists of additional organizations from which you can seek assistance:

View the full list of resources for artists and arts organizations on the NEA website.

Stimulus funding as of April 2020

In the United States, a few stimulus packages have already been signed into law, but it is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that directly pertains to workers.

Amongst its provisions, there are increased unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and small business loans. And while there is talk of additional funds being allotted to workers in the future, as of April 2020, this is what we’re currently looking at:

Stimulus checks

The U.S. government is issuing stimulus checks (aka economic impact payments) to help small businesses and individuals in the wake of COVID-19.

According to information on the IRS website:

Who is eligible?

“Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds.

Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child.”

What do you need to do to get a stimulus payment?

Likely, nothing. According to the IRS:

“The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment.

The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.”

Increased unemployment benefits:

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act adds to existing unemployment benefits, giving eligible Americans an extra $600 a week through July 31, 2020. It also makes more types of workers — including freelancers and gig workers — eligible to receive unemployment benefits if their jobs have been affected by COVID-19.

From musicians to Uber drivers to freelance graphic designers — this means you.

You will need to apply for unemployment to receive the baseline benefits as well as the additional benefit now allowed. To do this, apply for unemployment in your state.

Unemployment offices by state

Here’s a list of unemployment offices in each state so you can get started with the process of receiving benefits immediately:

Get the help you need ASAP

Though a lot of the stimulus funds aren’t being distributed as quickly as many need them to be, there is help available and on the way. With this in mind, it’s important to apply for grants if you qualify and to file for unemployment if your income has ceased since the outset of COVID-19.

Get the ball rolling as soon as possible and hopefully the interruption to your cash flow will be brief.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: things are really hard right now. But musicians will take the stage again one day. And artists will get to display their works in public. Normalcy will return. Until then, stay at home, stay safe, and if you need to talk to someone, be sure to reach out via an organization such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Related: Finding a supportive community in tough times

Image by: Steve Johnson on Unsplash