South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund Gives Hope to Artists During Pandemic

April 9, 2020

A recent performance hosted by The India Center at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.

In only a few weeks, the pandemic caused by COVID-19’s outbreak has devastated almost every industry in the United States, including the creative arts sector. Artists and employees of arts organizations generally rely on patron support and grant funding to keep their projects and organizations thriving. In an ongoing survey, Americans for the Arts estimates a total financial impact of $124 million dollars across the industry as the domestic economy has come to a near standstill and the employment rate has risen to over 6 million citizens.

The future of the arts may seem threatened, but individuals in their own communities are stepping up to ensure the creative sector has a fighting chance of survival.

In the South Asian community, The India Center, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in New York City, has partnered with cultural arts facilitator MELA Arts Connect to create the South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund in an effort to assist arts workers affected by job loss due to the current economic crisis.

The South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund will provide a minimum of $1,000 project-based grants to artists and arts professionals in the performing arts, film, visual arts and/or literature to ensure that resources are available to them during and after the pandemic. In addition, The India Center Foundation is investing $20,000 towards the launch and initial round of grants from the fund, with the intention of supporting hundreds of individuals in need of financial assistance.

“Communities count on the arts to rally around, to gather and to find connection, especially in times of crisis, and the South Asian community is no different,” said Raoul Bhavnani, co-founder of The India Center. “With necessary physical distancing in place for the foreseeable future, the arts community — artists, producers, agents, managers, administrators, technicians — are unable to perform or produce their work for audiences and are losing their livelihoods. Losses will only continue to mount unless we choose to support artists now, and we hope individuals, corporations and other arts organizations will join us in this critical endeavor.”

ICF has set up a fundraising campaign with a goal of $500,000, seeking support from the South Asian community in the United States and abroad. The crowdfunding campaign will be co-managed by MELA Arts Connect and will offer live streaming experiences and other social media engagement to remind supporters what they’re helping to keep alive.

“We want to encourage South Asian voices in the arts at all levels and make sure that our growing representation in all sectors of creative fields does not diminish because of this pandemic,” says Priya Giri Desai, co-founder of The India Center. “The Resiliency Fund can ensure that our South Asian voices continue to be heard and that South Asian artists can feel secure in their choice to pursue a life in the arts.”

Artists and Arts personnel can apply for funding beginning Monday, April 13, through The India Center’s website. If you would like to support the South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund, visit the campaign’s GoFundMe page to learn more.


Raj Tawney


Raj Tawney is a journalist, essayist and poet, covering American culture and entertainment from his multiracial perspective.