Populus Fund logo with the words in multi color letters against a black background

Populus Fund FAQ

What is Populus Fund?
Populus Fund is a re-granting initiative organized by The Union, through the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in order to support innovative artist projects throughout Omaha–Lincoln metros. Populus Fund was founded to provide essential support for projects that are catalytic, address community needs, and exemplify new ways of working in, for, and with the public.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic many artists are in need of critical financial support. Populus Fund’s 2021 grants will be specifically unrestricted emergency funds to support vital needs such as medical bills, rent, debts, and food.

How can I apply?
If eligible, you can apply here, via the Submittable platform. If you’ve used Submittable before and have an existing account, you will need to enter your login credentials. If it is your first time using Submittable, you will need to create a new account. This is a quick and simple process.

If you have any technical issues on Submittable, such as questions related to password retrieval, confirming receipt of applications, or revising submitted applications, please contact support@submittable.com.

Will emergency grant funds be restricted to artistic uses?
No. There is no restriction on usage of funds. Once granted, artists may use the award however they see fit. There will be no final report required.

Am I eligible if I have already received funds from another relief effort?

Yes, you are eligible. We do not disqualify anyone based on other sources of relief.

Am I eligible if I received a Populus Fund Emergency Grant in 2020?
Unfortunately, no. If you received a Populus Fund Emergency Grant in 2020, you are not eligible to receive an Emergency Grant in 2021.

I applied in 2020, but DID NOT receive a Populus Fund Emergency Grant, am I eligible?
Yes, you are eligible, but will need to fill out an application for the 2021 cycles.

How does the weighted lottery system work?
Populus Fund emergency grants are meant to support visual artists in our communities with the greatest financial need. Applicants will be weighted based on nine risk factors. We will create a spreadsheet that weights reported risk factors. With each risk factor experienced, the applicant will be entered into the lottery system. For example, a single parent with unmanageable debt will be entered twice into the lottery system due to their two stated risk factors. The more risk factors, the more entries into the application pool.

The risk factors used to determine weighted lottery system include:

  • Lack of financial safety net
  • Chronic illness or underlying condition; or over the age of 60
  • Unmanageable debt
  • Medical expenses associated with a diagnosed or suspected case of COVID-19
  • Single parenthood
  • Pregnant or partner is pregnant
  • No health insurance
  • Refugee or citizenship status puts applicant at risk
  • Financially responsible for dependents (children / elders / others)

Will you prioritize BIPOC artists in awarding emergency funds?
Yes. Understanding that the converging burdens of racial injustice and COVID-19 are disproportionately impacting BIPOC artists, Populus Fund emergency funding will take racial identity into consideration in our funding disbursements. While not a mandatory question on the application, applicants who disclose their BIPOC identities will be entered into their own application pool in addition to the general application pool. It is our goal to grant at least 55% of our awards to BIPOC artists.

If I am selected in a lottery cycle, am I guaranteed funds?
No. While we are committed to an impartial lottery system, there are a few reasons The Union will withhold fund payouts to a lottery winner. They are:

  • If you do not meet our eligibility requirements
  • If we discover or suspect intentional mis-reporting in your application
  • If your work samples go against our core values
  • If your communication with our team is vulgar, disrespectful, or inappropriate in any way

How will my application information be used?
The information you provide in this application is confidential and may be used to report demographics without identifying information. Testimonials that were voluntarily entered into the application may also be shared privately with funders, but only without identifying information. Demographic information is optional and not required to submit an application.

I don’t have a website; how else can I show my artistic involvement?
If you recently participated in an exhibition, performance, public event, or led a workshop, share the link with us on your application. You can also share a link to your artist CV, social media account used to share your art, or a news article about your work.

The majority of my financial support does not come from my artistic practice. Am I eligible?
Yes, as long as you can establish that you are a practicing artist that is making your work publicly available.

I am a theatre artist, dancer, musician, or practice another art form that does not fall within the listed eligibility criteria. Can I still apply?
Unfortunately, no. This grant is only available to artists with a visual element to their work. However, Populus Fund has an expansive understanding of the visual arts. If you are uncertain, please reach out to our team – populusfund@u-ca.org – to determine your eligibility.

Why are only visual artists allowed to apply for this funding?
Populus Fund is part of the Regional Re-Granting program funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Warhol Foundation’s funding priorities are to support visual artists working in partner cities.

I own or run a nonprofit entity, artist collective, or LLC. Am I eligible to apply?
Organizations such as non-profits, artist-run collectives, and independent art businesses are not eligible for funding as entities, however individual artists associated with entities are eligible as individuals. This emergency grant is intended to support the creative practice of individual artists.

I am currently a Union Fellow, teaching artist, performing artist, or exhibiting artist. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes. Eligibility is not impacted by prior or current engagements, awards, or programming affiliations with The Union or The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. However, you may not be or have an immediate family member that is on Union staff or board.

What are the boundaries of the 80-mile radius?
Please refer to this map to determine your location eligibility. Your location will be reviewed by Union staff to determine eligibility.

What if I lived in the 80-mile range until I was displaced due to COVID-19?
Unfortunately, if you have permanently moved away from the 80-mile radius indicated then you are no longer eligible.

What should I do if I have to move after I’ve submitted an application?
If you are selected as a grant recipient, please include your new address in your email response to the notification, along with your W-9. It is not necessary to contact anyone about a change of address prior to being selected.

Can I receive assistance in filling out my application?
The Union will host one virtual application assistance session going through the process and eligibility requirements. That session will be recorded and then shared at the top of our FAQ page for viewing. If you have a question about the application process or eligibility that is not answered in that video tutorial or need assistance from our team in reading or filling out the application, please email us at populusfund@u-ca.org.

I’m having trouble with the online application form. Can I submit a paper application, or email it to you?
No, unfortunately although we do usually make accommodations with paper applications, in this instance current limitations of the COVID-19 situation require us to only receive applications digitally. If you need assistance or access to technology/wifi to complete the online application, please contact us at populusfund@u-ca.org or call 402-933-3161 and leave a message with how to contact you.

Can I apply on behalf of someone else with their consent?
Yes. We are aware that many individuals whose need is greatest may not have regular internet or computer access. If you wish to submit an application on behalf of another person with their consent, you will need to create a Submittable account for them and be sure to fill out the rest of the application with their information. If you are filling out the application for more than one person, you will need to create a unique Submittable account each time.

Will Union staff be selecting Emergency Fund recipients?
No. Following best practice in funding, Union staff will remain neutral in the selection process. For the emergency fund awards, we will rely solely on the weighted system with a randomized drawing of applicants to select our awardees in each of the four cycles. We will have a short vetting process to ensure our selected awardees meet our eligibility criteria.

When will I be notified if I am receiving funding?
Awardees will be notified and payments processed no later than two weeks after each cycle ends.

Will emergency grant awardees be announced?
No. Due to the potentially sensitive nature regarding eligibility for this grant, we will not be publicly announcing our emergency grant awardees. However, artists who receive Populus Fund emergency grant funding are welcome to announce themselves as recipients if they so choose on their own platforms.

Am I guaranteed to receive funds if I meet eligibility requirements?
Unfortunately, no. We anticipate that we will receive more qualifying applications than we can support. Our lottery system will prioritize artists with the greatest financial need and BIPOC applicants.

What do I do if I apply and my circumstances change after I apply?
Please email populusfund@u-ca.org with an update about your circumstances, and we will respond as soon as possible.

If I do not receive funding in the first cycle that I apply, do I need to reapply to be re-entered into the pool for the cycles that follow?
No, your application remains in the pool for all of the remaining Populus Fund emergency grant cycles.

What will you require to issue my grant?
If your application is selected for a grant, you must be able to provide a W9 and Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), and a mailing address at which you can receive a paper check. We will provide grantees with a digital link to complete and sign the W-9 in addition to a grant agreement form.

Is this grant taxable?
We are still waiting for the IRS guidance on COVID-19 financial assistance for 2021. We will update awardees as we learn more, however, please be prepared to pay taxes on any award received.

What can I use this funding for?
There is no restriction on usage of funds. Once granted, artists may use the award however they see fit. There will be no final report required.

If I am not selected for a grant, will I still be notified?
Yes, Artist Relief will respond to all applicants, whether they are selected for funding or not.

What if I am selected and need an accommodation for payment installments due to disability, unemployment, or other status?
We will make every effort to accommodate selected recipients with alternate payment arrangements. If you are selected for a grant, please include your accommodation request in your response.

Any other questions not answered on this FAQ, please contact Union staff at populusfund@u-ca.org or call 402-933-3161 and leave a message with your contact information.