The Populus Fund: Emergency grants available for artists in the Omaha area


Hannah Michelle Bussa

The Populus Fund is awarding $1,000 in emergency grants for artists in the Omaha area during the pandemic. BIPOC artists will be prioritized due to the long-reaching impacts of injustice and systemic racism. Photo courtesy of The Union for Contemporary Art.

While in the midst of a pandemic, it can be difficult to be grateful. However, there are ways to find support.

The Union for Contemporary Art and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts have organized the Populus Fund. This Fund will award ninety-five emergency grants worth $1,000 to artists in response to the impact of the pandemic. These grants will be awarded by the end of 2020.

“Populus Fund was founded to provide essential support for projects that expand our understanding of how art exists in the world, address community needs and exemplify new ways of working in, for and with the public,” according to The Union.

These funds can be used for anything the artist sees fit. The unrestricted funds can be used to meet needs like rent, food, medical bills and debts. A final report is not required for this grant.

The Populus Fund is for artists in the Omaha and Lincoln areas. The Union is prioritizing Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) applicants in recognition of the long-reaching effects of systemic racism. Their goal is to give at least 55% of these grants to BIPOC artists.

Visual artists must live within a 75-mile radius of the Omaha metro to be eligible for this grant. Artists must have experienced financial impact due to COVID-19 and be able to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to their art over the last two years. Other eligibility requirements can be found on The Union for Contemporary Art’s website.

It is also possible to apply on behalf of someone else who would be eligible with their consent.

Applications opened on October 15. The grants are given based on lottery draw cycles that are weighted based on need. There are two more opportunities to join the drawing cycles: Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. The deadline to apply for these cycles is 11:59 p.m. on those dates.

The lottery pool is meant to support those in the community with the greatest need. There are nine risk factors that will be weighed. These include medical expenses relating to COVID-19, single parenthood, pregnancy, lack of health insurance, chronic illness and refugee or at-risk citizenship status. BIPOC artists are prioritized as part of the lottery pool as well.

All who apply will be notified, no matter if selected or not. The recipients are not publicly announced due to the sensitive nature of eligibility for this grant. If selected, the artist can announce that on their own platforms. Artists will be notified within two weeks after the end of each cycle.

Additional information, frequently asked questions and the artist application can all be found at The Union for Contemporary Art’s website in both English and Spanish.

If there are remaining questions, contact the Union staff at or call and leave a message at 402-933-3161.

For those interested, it is also possible to contribute to the Populus Fund. This can help expand the support for artists in the area. If interested in contributing, contact the Manager of Individual Giving Caitlin LaVelle at

Support is out there! If eligible for this grant, apply today.