Not long after the pandemic hit, singer and producer Jonathan Hawkins reach out to the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod (AFCC) to find a way to support his fellow creatives who live and work in Provincetown.
From those discussions, Hawkins launched the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund in April to provide financial assistance of up to $1,000 for individuals who work in the performing arts and who have lost income and jobs due to the pandemic.
As the fund approaches its one-year anniversary, it serves as a shining example of what a community can accomplish when it comes together to support those most in need. Since its inception, over $65,000 has been raised for the fund, with more than $47,000 of that given out to 53 artists in the Cape’s outermost town.
The grassroots initiative has allowed Hawkins, who has spent the past five summers in Provincetown, to give back to artists who are struggling to afford the basic necessities. “We’re talking about people who have lost their entire income,” Hawkins said. “The unique thing about Provincetown artists is they are usually able to make their entire yearly income in four months during the summer season.”
That never happened last summer, leaving many looking for a way to fill that void – exactly what the arts fund has done. “This isn’t just an extra cushion for them,” Hawkins said. “It’s about their ability to pay their rent, electric bill, or car payment.”
Hawkins partnered with the AFCC to serve as the nonprofit responsible for receiving donations and distributing awards to artists. Thanks to additional support from The Palette Fund, 100 percent of all donations go directly to recipients.
A rich cultural history on the Cape
“The past year has been an incredibly difficult one for artists on Cape Cod which is why we jumped at the chance to support the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund in any way we could,” AFCC Executive Director Julie Wake said. “With its rich history as the country’s oldest continuous arts colony, Provincetown’s creative community has long served as a major economic driver for our region. There was never any question about whether we’d collaborate with the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund Committee to meet the needs of our creative community and ensure Provincetown remains a vital piece of the arts on the Cape.”
Wake credited Hawkins for playing an instrumental role in producing an array of in-person and virtual events that have helped raise over $65,000 for the fund since its launch.
Once a week during the summer, Hawkins organized a safe, socially distanced show, featuring local artists, poolside at the Crown & Anchor, that raised money and awareness for the fund. There were also nearly 20 private events, also featuring local artists, that he helped to produce in support of the fund.
And in December, he produced a virtual show, CHEERS! A Holiday Benefit, that brought in nearly $20,000 and featured performances by roughly three dozen artists, including Zoe Lewis, Robert Wetherbee, Anne Stott, The Boy Band Project, Mark Meehan, Ryan Landry, Roxanne Layton, Susan Goldberg, and Terri Conti.
While the vaccine and the coming tourist season holds promise for Provincetown’s arts community, Hawkins knows the need for the fund is still great. “It has become more important to us as the pandemic isn’t going anywhere and artists still don’t have venues to perform at or the means to make money,” he said.
Even as he pushes forward in his effort to help more artists through the fund, Hawkins was proud of all that has been accomplished over the past year. “For me, it’s important to give back to a community that has given me so much,” he said. “I have grown so much as a performer, entertainer, and producer being here and soaking in this incredibly diverse array of talent. To create this fund and give back to my fellow artists has been a truly special thing.”
Artists who want to apply for financial support or anyone interested in donating to the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund can do so at www.provincetownperformingartsfund.com. Applicants can either be year-round Provincetown residents or have worked in the performing arts for at least three full seasons in Provincetown and demonstrate an urgent financial need.