Amid Pandemic Challenges, Jewish Creatives Get Boost from New Arts & Culture Initiative

At a time when arts organizations and artists are reeling from the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new Jewish initiative is stepping in with much-needed grants and an emergency relief fund.

CANVAS, a partnership of five Jewish foundations working with Jewish Funders Network, is awarding grants to five Jewish arts and culture networks totaling $736,000 in operating support, and an additional $180,000 in immediate emergency relief for Jewish artists/creatives whose livelihood has been devastated by Covid-19 and its economic consequences. CANVAS expects to surpass $1 million in funding commitments by September. The group seeks to strengthen and build capacity in the field, with the ultimate goal of helping fuel a 21st-century renaissance in Jewish arts and culture.

CANVAS’ first grantees are Asylum Arts, the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM), the Jewish Book Council, LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, and Reboot, which collectively represent nearly 2,000 artists and creatives and more than 100 Jewish museums. The five grantees will distribute the $180,000 emergency funds to individual artists in need.

“Jewish creatives continue to shape our culture, even in lockdown,” said Lou Cove, founder of CANVAS. “Now, more than ever, they entertain and distract us, empathize with and educate us, help us reflect and commiserate and open our hearts, reconnect with beauty, process the unthinkable, remind us to smile, help us to cry, capture the essential Jewish nature of these moments. And yet in almost all cases, artists are producing this work without pay. We want to support them as much as they support us.”

The infusion of new funding and philanthropic coordination from CANVAS comes at a time when artists and arts organizations of all kinds are facing major budget challenges due to Covid-19 and the forced cancellation of performances, exhibits, and other events.

Lead funding for CANVAS comes from the Righteous Persons Foundation. The other founding partners are: the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Klarman Family Foundation, the Peleh Fund, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

The $180,000 emergency fund for creatives is open to further investment and can be supported at

CANVAS’ advisory council includes “RBG” Director Julie Cohen, Forward National Editor Rob Eshman, musician and Latin Grammy Award-winner Ben Gundersheimer (AKA Mister G), Executive Director at the International Contemporary Ensemble Jennifer Kessler, photographer and filmmaker Gillian Laub, former Sundance Executive Caroline Libresco, Editorial Director at Godfrey Dadich Partners Mary Melton, The Warhol Director Patrick Moore, and Broadway producer/ARS Nova founder Jenny Steingart.

Learn more about CANVAS and its grantees here.