COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund supports artists with ties to Northampton

  • Steve Sanderson, events producer for the Northampton Arts Council, carries an ampersand during Transperformance, Aug. 21, 2018 in Pines Theater at Look Park. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer 
Published: 6/18/2020 8:54:02 AM

The Northampton Arts Council will be distributing $330 each to 120 local artists after raising $29,000 and reallocating $11,000 from its own budget to create the COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund. 

Brian Foote, executive director of the Northampton Arts Council, said some of the artists and arts organizations that have received grants include Attack Bear Press, Oxbow Gallery, folk singer-songwriter Tracy Grammer, Out! For Reel LGBTQ Films and musical booking promoter The Buzz/Honey Pot Productions. 

“One of the biggest things that art does is it brings a community together in so many ways,” Foote said. “The idea of us not being able to get together and appreciate that is really difficult for artists ... We thought it was really important to just provide automatic relief for people who have been a part of the fabric of our cultural community for so long.” 

Foote said most of the artists who have received relief funds have worked with the Northampton Arts Council in the past for events such as First Night Northampton. 

“We like to support artists around here,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what town you’re from, but if you play shows in Northampton, Florence or Leeds, we’re down to support.” 

Foote said that despite the pandemic, the Northampton Arts Council is still planning to host its annual Transperformance event on Aug. 18; local bands play cover songs of various artists and bands, sometimes taking on larger-than-life personas and dressing up in costume. This year’s theme for Transperformance 30 is Live Aid to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Live Aid event in London and Philadelphia as a benefit concert for the Ethiopian famine. 

“I hope that we can have First Night because First Night and Transperformance are two of our main incomes,” Foote added. “That’s how we fund all the grants … It’s going to be tough for the Arts Council if we don’t have one or both of those shows.” 

Foote said if the Arts Council is forced to cancel its two major events this year, it could impact how much grant funding it provides to local artists in the future. 

“That’s what I’m a little bit worried about,” he said. “But mostly, I’m happy to support the artists, and we’re still doing a summer concert series, whether that’s going to be live-streaming or in Pulaski Park.” 

For more information about the COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund, visit

Chris Goudreau can be reached at 

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