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How Bay Area Artists And Bartenders Can Get Financial Support

Updated: Apr 20, 2020 11:44
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The first of the month is rearing its ugly head, a truly horrible prospect for artists and bartenders who have not worked in two weeks, nor will they be able to for at least another full month. If you’re a creator, performer, artist, or bartender in this terrifying fucking circumstance, we’ve pulled together a list of resources for grants or just short-term financial support, plus an analysis of what the current local and state rent relief measures are, and how these measures can help or where they totally fall short. 

Image: Dyl86


Yeah yeah yeah your first concern is the rent being due, and we’ll get to that in a minute. Your top priority should be to file an unemployment claim, because the sooner you get that filed, the sooner you start receiving checks. But the shit end of this stick is that California unemployment does not cover freelancers or the self-employed. (It does under a few extremely limited circumstances which almost certainly do not apply to you, and California Public Radio lists these rare circumstances.)  

But there is something in the $2 trillion federal stimulus package for gig workers, freelancers, and the self-employed. The federal coronavirus stimulus package gives an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits to freelancers, gig workers, and self-employed people. (Of course, in California, the “extra $600” means “only $600,” given the lack of state benefits.) Keep in mind that this development has generated plenty of headlines, but zero actual fucking details on how it will all work. CNBC has an excellent rundown on what few details we have, and what glaring details are still missing: tipped employees are probably fucked because tip income cannot be applied, gig workers and the self-employed have not been told exactly how they’ll be able to apply for it, and if you’ve been paid under the table or didn’t file your taxes in either of the last two years, you probably can’t get that aid.  It will require tax information and pay stubs.


You are not going to be evicted if you can’t pay rent April 1. Governor Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on evictions is in effect through May 31 and could be extended. But you still owe that money, and will be expected to pay it all back unless you and your landlord have some other arrangement. Further, you have to notify your landlord within seven days of your non-payment and provide some manner of documentation that you have lost work (texts and emails are applicable here). 

In San Francisco, you have a full 30 days to notify your landlord of a late payment. Oakland’s eviction moratorium stipulates that landlords cannot issue late fees. Curbed has a very good rundown of eviction moratorium rules for each Bay Area city.

Image: Johnanth via Flickr


There are far fewer strings attached in the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program from the US Bartenders Guild. You just have to document that you’re a bartender “or the spouse or child of a Bartender,” and that you have lost work. You do not need to be a member of the Bartenders Guild to be eligible for a grant, though the website does not detail the size of the grants available.



You may have heard about some of these relief funds for artists. Here’s which ones are working, and which ones are already tapped out so you might as well not even bother.

San Francisco Arts & Artists Relief Fund This was $1.5 million for artists who’ve lost work was announced with great fanfare last week. Individual artists can apply for some of those funds on the Center for Cultural Innovation website. Additionally, the Arts Loan Fund may still be handing out some of its low-interest loans, but those are only for “organizations,” not individual artists.

Safety Net Fund – This one seems to be the gold standard, and is specifically “designed to help support artists in the Bay Area during the COVID-19 crisis.” You could get up to $500 per person per month, and their application is here

Bay Area Emergency Fund: Artists/Event ProductionWe’re hearing from applicants that the individual artist relief fund is already tapped out and not awarding any more grants. 

SF Queer Nightlife Fund – The application deadline is at Midnight March 31, so you have until then to get it filled out. But they are still accepting contributions!

Performing Arts Worker Relief Fund – This Theatre Bay Area fund is a “resource for performing arts workers who are facing a loss of income due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis” and is still taking applications, though it unclear the size of their grants.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.