Rocket Relief was conceived in response to the emergency needs of individual artists in our community. Artists of every type and across geographic borders have experienced massive financial challenges and losses due to COVID-19. A national arts foundation and multiple local funders banded together to provide funds to meet these needs. Each set of funding had restrictions because of how it was originally raised or provided, before the pandemic and outside the realities of COVID-19. Some funding came from a single foundation, another from general fundraising by a nonprofit, and another from a local county government. Most of the funding was restricted to a specific artistic discipline, and some of it was restricted geographically. Thus, Rocket Relief is both responsive to the needs of beneficiaries and shaped to maintain relationships with long-term funders.

At launch of cycle 1, $120,000 in total was available in grants to artists of all disciplines in the Rocket Relief region. An additional $73,000 was raised providing a total sum of $193,000 to fund  Rocket Relief. Almost 600 artists applied for the grant. The total number of grants awarded at the end of cycle 1 was 143 using $143,000. The launch of cycle 2 will see the remaining $50,000 awarded along with any additional funds that may be raised. 

Since the launch of cycle 1 on May 1 we have seen increased economic instability and the immense toll of the coronavirus pandemic in our community. We have learned more about what is impacting artists from the almost 600 applications we have received and have made adjustments to cycle 2 based on learnings from cycle 1.

Here is some information we gathered from Rocket Relief applicants in cycle 1.

WHO DID CYCLE 1 ROCKET RELIEF GRANTS GO TO?

Artistic Disciplines: The pie charts compare the percentage of all applications by each artistic discipline to the percentage of all artistic disciplines who received a grant in cycle 1*. 61% of applicants self-identified as visual/multidisciplinary artists, followed by 25% as dancers or musicians, 12% as theatre artists, and 2% as performative storytellers. The disproportion between all applicants and recipients by discipline most notably theatre artists was influenced by the restricted allocation by funders to each discipline. Cycle 2 will be using the remainder of unrestricted funds. Distribution of the unrestricted funds to artists will not be influenced by artistic discipline but on the risk factors that most greatly impact applicants. 

*All applications refers to the total number of people who applied for the Rocket Relief Fund. Grant Recipients refers to the number of grants awarded to applicants.

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Risk Factors: Risk factors were used to prioritize applicants based on need. When reviewing risk factors it was found that 63% of all applicants indicated they did not have a financial safety net, 30% indicated challenges in supporting dependents and 27% did not have health insurance. Additionally, many applicants went on to cite concerns in paying rent, bills, and medical costs. The pandemic has seen an increase of these risks and an increase in evictions and homelessness is anticipated (see Stout’s analysis on renter confidence and potential evictions.) Below is a comparison of all the risk factors taken into account between all applicants and grant recipients.

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Race & Ethnicity: Race and ethnicity demographic information was not factored into the selection process in cycle 1. When reviewing race and ethnicity data** it was found that 28% of all applications were from artists who identified as Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color (BIPOC) and 28% of grants went to applicants who identified as BIPOC. 

** Race and ethnicity options in the Rocket Relief Fund application included Black/African American, Native/Indigenous, Latino/Latina/Latinx, Asian/South Asian/Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern/North African, Biracial/Multiracial, Other, who in this summary are identified as BIPOC. Additional options included white/Caucasian and prefer not to answer. Applicants were able to choose multiple racial and ethnic identities.

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Race, Ethnicity & Risk Factors: Below is a summary of how risk factors have impacted artists who identified race and ethnicity. 39% of all applicants who identified as BIPOC indicated they do not have health insurance, 78% indicated they do not have a financial safety net. 22% of all applicants who identified as white/Caucasian indicated they do not have health insurance, 57% indicated they do not have a financial safety net. 

The CDC lists factors that put BIPOC communities at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19 such as discrimination, no access to health insurance, income gaps, crowded housing, and homelessnes. In recognition of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in BIPOC communities, demographic information provided in applications will be used to grant 60% of the awards in cycle 2 to artists who self-identify as Black, Indigenous and/or artists of color.

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LGBTQIA+: The number of applicants received from artists who identified as LGBTQIA+ in cycle 1 was 22%. Grants awarded to applicants who identify as LGBTQIA+ was 25%.

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Disability: In cycle 1, 7% of all applicants identify as a person with a disability/s, and 6% of grants awarded went to artists who identify as a person with a disability/s.

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WHERE DID CYCLE 1 ROCKET RELIEF GRANTS GO?

Location by State: Most applications received came from the 80-mile radius surrounding Kansas City with the exception of 3% of applicants from other states outside of Missouri and Kansas. Cycle 1 saw 38% of grants awarded to artists from Kansas and 62% from Missouri.

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Location by County: Approximately 16% of grants awarded went to artists living in regional areas. A total of 80 applications came from regional areas, almost 14% of all applications. Below is a break-up of the number of artists living in each county who received a grant. 

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If you want to know more about what we learned in cycle 1, email rocketrelief@charlottestreet.org today!