Creative Portland is raising money for local artists who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Grants of $500 will be given to 100 local artists facing hardship. Courtesy / Creative Portland

PORTLAND — Creative Portland and Portland Symphony Orchestra are stepping up to give artists and musicians some financial support in light of closed galleries and canceled performances as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Creative Portland set up the Portland Artist Relief Fund to help local artists with no other funding sources on March 23 with the goal of raising $50,000 by month’s end. It hopes to distribute $500 grants to 100 artists.

Portland Symphony Orchestra has launched the PSO Musician Relief Fund to aid its musicians. All money raised will be given to the symphony’s more than 80 musicians every two weeks.

As Monday, March 30, approximately $15,000 had been raised.

Requests for the first cycle of Portland Artist Relief Fund grants will be accepted through April 30, with checks mailed by May 15. A selection committee made up of representatives of Creative Portland, Running with Scissors, Indigo Arts Alliance, Space and Damnationland/Storyboard will choose the grant recipients.

“This funding is going directly to the artists who are part of the grassroots artistic community: the creators and makers and performers,” said Marcia Minter, founder of Indigo Arts Alliance, an organization formed last year to cultivate the development of artists of color.


Local artists are the lifeblood of the area’s creative economy, Minter said.

“We want to keep artists inspired and make sure their work continues to be funded. This fund will continue to take care of them,” she said.

Recipients will be asked to give back to the arts community in some way, such as donating art for fundraising efforts or volunteering their time for a Creative Portland program or project in 2021.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra has set up a Musicians Relief Fund to help musicians make up for loss of income as a result of performances being canceled due to coronavirus safety precautions. Courtesy / Portland Symphony Orchestra

The PSO has not targeted a goal for its fundraising effort, but it has been receiving “generous support” so far, said Gusta Johnson, director of marketing and communications.

“The broader and more sustained the audience we can reach, the more support we’ll be able to provide the PSO musicians,” she said.

PSO musicians do not make a full-time living from their work at the PSO, Johnson said.  
“They are employed by multiple regional symphonies, chamber music organizations, and teach at universities, schools, and in private studios – all areas which have been directly affected by the shutdowns related to COVID-19. This means, in many cases, a total loss of income across the board for many of our musicians.”

PSO performances and events have been canceled through April 12. In the meantime musicians are engaging with the community through PSO: Notes from Home, a new digital video series that features musicians performing, demonstrating their instruments or talking about their professional music career. The videos are available on Facebook, Instagram and the PSO website.

Indigo Arts Alliance is also offering virtual programming and sharing its artists’ work on social media. Recently the organization held live streams with artists in residence Sean Alonzo Harris and Nyamuon Nguany Machar.

“There are ways we can continue to do our work even through we can’t do it in our physical space the way we have been,” Minter said.

Donations to the Portland Artist Relief Fund can be made at and donations to the PSO Musicians Relief Fund can be made at

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