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Communications Director

Executive director Cathy Edwards speaks on what NEFA has heard from grantees and how NEFA is addressing the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. A transcript follows.


Hello everyone, I’m Cathy Edwards, executive director of the New England Foundation for the Arts. I hope this message finds you safe at home during our Covid-19 shut down.

In April, we at NEFA reached out to our grantees to learn about the impact of this crisis on their work, and to see where we could be flexible by deferring or repurposing grants.

We heard stories of loss – of performances, educational programs, and income, and jobs. We also heard ideas about recovery and reimagination and about how our work in arts and culture, and in our communities, will change in the future – possibly with a lens of greater equity and flexible approach to how we share art with each other.

In April, NEFA also began to offer emergency artist relief funds. For example, we partnered with the six New England state arts agencies by contributing $282,000 to fund emergency artist relief grants, designed to support working artists in our region who have lost income.

NEFA’s values of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility continue to guide our work, particularly during this time of disparate impact of this virus on communities of color.

In the coming weeks, NEFA will launch an initiative for relief grants to New England cultural organizations, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

I hope you will stay in touch with us. Please access our Covid-19 resource page, which is updated frequently, on our website at nefa.org. You can also find staff contact information on the website. I’m so grateful to my colleagues on the NEFA staff, who continue their work and are deeply committed to supporting our constituents in the arts.

Art has always been a space for shared experiences, and to bring people together. We know one day we will be back, together, for these shared experiences. In the meantime, we are so moved by artists when we read books, watch movies, devour tik-tok dances, listen to music, and access streamed panel discussions, readings, workshops, concerts, and live performances from home.

Thank you for all that you do – as makers, as supporters of the arts, and as creative people. Take care.