Friday, June 9, 2023

Governor Northam and VMFA Announce Virginia Visual Artist Relief Program

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, First Lady Pamela Northam, and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) Director and CEO Alex Nyerges today announced a special program to assist visual artists impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program.

“The arts are critically important—particularly in times of collective struggle and hardship,” Governor Ralph Northam. “Pam and I are proud to stand alongside VMFA in supporting Virginia’s artists during their time of need.”

Forty (40) visual artists from the Commonwealth will be selected to each receive a $5,000 grant. To be eligible, applicants must live and work in Virginia, be 21 years of age or older, and derive a significant part of their income from their artwork including sales and lectures. Applications must be received online between June 16, 2020 and July 10, 2020. Recipients will be notified of grant awards on July 24, 2020.

Complete eligibility requirements and the application can be found on the museum’s website at

The Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program is funded by the museum’s existing Artist Fellowship Endowment established in 1941 through a generous gift made by the late John Lee Pratt of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Pratt stipulated that the funds be used to support professional artists in the Commonwealth and not for other purposes. Through this endowment, VMFA has awarded nearly $5.8 million to Virginia artists in the Commonwealth over the past 80 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the art world. “Museums and galleries have had to close their doors, lay off employees, and cancel exhibitions. Full-time artists, many of whom work without health insurance or other benefits, are in a particularly fragile situation,” said Nyerges. “The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has carefully invested Mr. Pratt’s gift—the accrued excess balance of which is being used to aid our state’s visual artists during this historic crisis.”

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