American Documentary Gala 2019 at Public Hotel on 10.2.19
American Documentary Gala 2019 via Facebook

American Documentary (AmDoc), the nonprofit organization behind the PBS series POV, is launching a COVID-19 Artist Emergency Fund to support the independent documentary community. This adapted fund of over $100,000 will provide rapid response grants up to $500 to assist artists with basic needs including food, immediate health needs and insurance premiums. Applications are now open and will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the fund is expired. For more information about eligibility, criteria and the application process, visit

“Last year when we ran the pilot, the need for a fund of this kind was already substantial. During this pandemic, the need is critical ” said Justine Nagan, executive producer/executive director of POV / American Documentary. “We are just beginning to see how COVID-19 is affecting filmmakers, especially those from marginalized communities. Canceled premieres, halted production and broader systemic issues are profoundly affecting filmmakers from healthcare to housing security. This adapted COVID AEF is designed for quick turnaround grants to support filmmakers and their families’ physical health.”

“In the face of COVID-19, we are seeing artists, especially artists-of-color at the forefront of innovative interventions and leading vital community responses to bring about mutual aid groups, joy and a sense of togetherness as we center ourselves inside our homes,” said Asad Muhammad, vice president of impact and engagement strategy, who will be overseeing the fund through the POV Engage department. “The hope is that these small grants can provide documentary filmmakers with some immediate support in sustaining their groceries, doctor visits and health insurance during this intense, confusing time.”

These one-time grants are a direct response to concerns about sustainability in the documentary field, with overall lack of adequate healthcare alongside loss of livelihood due to canceled production, festivals and theatricals. In its pilot year, the fund distributed over $20,000 and directly supported 25 artists with medical bills, housing and stopgap support amidst career instability.

The Artist Emergency Fund is made possible with support from Open Society Foundations, Shizuka Asakawa, the Chicago Media Project, Genuine Article Pictures and a number of other generous individuals.

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