The NEO Music Relief Fund will provide immediate emergency relief of up to $500 to professional musicians to compensate short term for income lost through unemployment and cancellations. Initially we will serve primarily to provide support to those who have experienced catastrophic loss of income in connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate that those needs will change over time, and we will be responsive to the changing needs of our local music community.

The Fund will also look for opportunities to support small local music venues, by creating non-traditional performance channels, supporting industry staff, and responding creatively to opportunities to make strategic one-time investments, identify alternative sources of support and pool resources.

The primary goal of the NEO Music Relief Fund is to make timely and essential grants to professional musicians to address pressing economic need.
We will award funds in accordance with the following priorities. If you are applying to us for funding, at least some of these things should be true for you. The more you fit this profile, the more likely you are to get funded. But if you’re not sure you’re eligible, it’s fine to go ahead and submit an application. We’ll respond to everyone who applies.

We will prioritize:

  • Professional, full-time musicians
  • Musicians who have lost 100% of their income and/or have no other immediate means of support
  • Musicians who are facing extreme financial hardship in an inability to pay for essential needs – including but not limited to housing, food and healthcare
  • Musicians who are responsible for dependents
  • Musicians who live and/or work in and around Cuyahoga County

Our primary funding focus will be in and around Cuyahoga County, but we recognize that our Northeast Ohio and adjacent arts communities are deeply interconnected. Artists living outside Greater Cleveland but working and/or performing primarily in this area, and vice versa, will still be eligible for support.

Applicants will apply online through the Cleveland Rocks PPF website: The questions in the application are simple and straightforward – you don’t need any experience applying for funding to answer them. The information will be shared with our grantmaking committee, but all information provided through the application process will be treated as confidential and any data shared through the process will be shared only in aggregate, except in instances where individuals provide permission to share their information, anecdotes or stories.

Grants will be decided and awarded by a grantmaking committee comprising a representative mix of professional musicians, venue owners and/or staff, and professionals in the music industry. The committee will have a minimum of 3 members, and ideally at least 5. There is currently no maximum number of committee members set – the ideal size will be driven by the number of applications to be reviewed, in order to share the work reasonably while still allowing for effective communication across the team.

As of September 2020, grants are being awarded monthly. Our current grant review schedule begins on the first day of each month, and runs through the last day of each month, with awards granted to be shared the first week of the month.

Applications will be assigned to available committee members in groups of two or three as they are received. Each application will be reviewed by at least two people and rated on a scale of 1-10, with 10 representing the most urgent funding priority. Those deemed not eligible for funding – not meeting our funding guidelines – will be notified immediately.

All applications deemed eligible for funding will be offered a live interview (via phone or zoom for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis), preferably with at least two grantmaking committee members who have reviewed their application. Based on the combination of the application review and interview, those committee members will make a recommendation, with supporting explanations:

  • Fund fully
  • Fund partially (with suggested amount)
  • Decline

All the applications reviewed in any grant review period will be aggregated for final review and fund distribution on the final day of the review cycle. The committee will make final funding determinations at the end of each review cycle based on the following:

  • Committee recommendations
  • Funds available for distribution

Once the committee has reached final funding decisions for the grant review period, applicants will be notified, and funds will be sent as quickly as possible. We understand that, in our current circumstances, time is of the essence, and will make every possible effort to make timely and responsive funding decisions for the good of our music community.

The NEO Music Relief Fund is intended to provide timely, direct financial support to musicians facing economic hardship. It is not intended to fund artistic or other projects, to seed or supplement larger funding pools, or to support any form of political or other campaign.

The Fund may, however, respond to opportunities to support small local music venues, as being essential to the health of our music community and the economic well-being of the musicians working in it. Opportunities to provide support to small, local music venues and/or their staffs will be evaluated by the grantmaking committee on an as-needed basis, and any decision to allocate funds will be in alignment with our priorities of supporting a healthy, sustainable local music community.

If you have questions about the NEO Music Relief Fund, please email them to

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