Craft Emergency Relief Fund
How does CERF+ define craft as an artistic discipline?
Craft is the creation of original objects through the skillful manipulation of materials. These materials were traditionally considered to be clay, fiber, metal, wood, or glass. However, today’s artist working in a craft discipline may also employ concrete, plastic, synthetic fibers, recycled materials and other non-traditional materials. Craft objects may be functional or nonfunctional, but both types derive part of their meaning from their association with traditional functional forms such as chairs, vessels, garments or implements, and/or their association with cultural tradition. Qualities that contribute to the success of a craft object include the skill of the maker, the use of the material, the refinement of the design, the originality of expression, its cultural significance – or all of these.
In addition to satisfying the above definition, eligible work must:
- Be well designed and executed, exhibiting integrity as traditional or contemporary craft
- Demonstrate technical competency and personal and/or cultural identity
- Be created by the applicant artist. However, portions of the work may be created by others under his/her direct supervision
- Not be based upon commercial kits, molds, patterns, or plans
- Be created in the United States or by a U.S. artist while temporarily working abroad.
CERF+ assistance is provided to established artists working in a craft discipline in three categories:
1. Artists with an established craft business
For the three years before your recent emergency, you must have earned the majority of your livelihood from the sale of your art and activities related to your art, been engaged in producing a body of work in a craft discipline (or disciplines), and spent at least 50% of your work time in design, creation, production, and marketing that work. For the required documentation, see the Supporting Documentation page. Click here for a printable, quick reference guide for this assistance category.
2. Artists with an established, alternative craft career
Certain artists working in craft disciplines are producing bodies of work that are experimental, sufficiently new, or may not be commercially viable in the short term, yet are an important part of the vitality of the craft field. While it is expected the applicant had a viable, ongoing livelihood at the time of the emergency, we understand that he or she may have needed to generate the majority of income from sources other than the sale of this work. An applicant in this category must meet other, more stringent qualifications than the “established craft business” category above. To be eligible, you must demonstrate outstanding quality and depth of work and commitment to your career through added documentation. See the Supporting Documentation page for details. Click here for a printable, quick reference guide for this assistance category.
3. Artists with an ongoing history in folk and traditional arts
To be eligible for CERF+’s Folk and Traditional Artist emergency assistance, applicants must document an ongoing history of producing handmade objects and/or functional visual art of high quality that embody the NEA definition of folk and traditional arts.* For the required documentation, see the Supporting Documentation page. Click here for a printable, quick reference guide for this assistance category.
*The National Endowment for the Arts’ defines folk and traditional arts as follows: The folk and traditional arts are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These vital and constantly reinvigorated artistic traditions are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice.
CERF+ assistance is available to emerging artists working in a craft discipline
Many of the most acclaimed artists of tomorrow working in craft disciplines have only started to establish their careers today. We understand that these promising artists may not have years of significant income from their art, but have gained recognition for their skill and creativity, and have taken strides to enter the professional realm. We are eager to assist an artist who can show his/her young career was on a clear trajectory to professional success and he/she was otherwise financially independent before a recent, severe emergency took the art career off course. However, an applicant in this category must meet other, more stringent qualifications than the “established craft business” category above. To be eligible, you must demonstrate outstanding quality and depth of work and commitment to your career through added documentation. See the Supporting Documentation page for details. Click here for a printable, quick reference guide for this assistance category.
In addition to meeting one of the four artist category requirements above, all applicants must meet these eligibility requirements:
Suffered a recent, serious emergency
You must have experienced a recent, unforeseen emergency or triggering event that has significantly and adversely affected your ability to produce and/or market your work and, thus, creates the need for immediate relief funds and/or assistance.
Be a legal U.S. resident
Complete our Emergency Assistance Inquiry form and we will contact you.
Please note that CERF+ may limit the frequency or total number of emergency assistance awards an artist may receive, or may limit assistance to artists with a poor CERF+ loan repayment history, even if otherwise eligible.