Press Release

April 1 2020

American Documentary Re-opens Artist Emergency Fund for Independent Documentary Community Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic


Fund will provide rapid response basic needs grants to documentary professionals around the U.S.

New York, N.Y.April 1, 2020— American Documentary (AmDoc), the nonprofit organization behind the PBS series POV, is launching a COVID-19 Artist Emergency Fund to support the independent documentary community. This adapted fund will provide rapid response grants up to $500 to assist artists with basic needs including food, immediate health needs and insurance premiums. Applications are now open and will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the fund is expired. For more information about eligibility, criteria and the application process, visit or contact

"Last year when we ran the pilot, the need for a fund of this kind was already substantial. During this pandemic, the need is critical " said Justine Nagan, executive producer/executive director of POV/ American Documentary. "We are just beginning to see how COVID-19 is affecting filmmakers, especially those from marginalized communities. Canceled premieres, halted production and broader systemic issues are profoundly affecting filmmakers from healthcare to housing security. This adapted COVID AEF is designed for quick turnaround grants to support filmmakers and their families’ physical health."

“In the face of COVID-19, we are seeing artists, especially artists-of-color at the forefront of innovative interventions and leading vital community responses to bring about mutual aid groups, joy and a sense of togetherness as we center ourselves inside our homes,” said Asad Muhammad, vice president of impact and engagement strategy, who will be overseeing the fund through the POV Engage department. “The hope is that these small grants can provide documentary filmmakers with some immediate support in sustaining their groceries, doctor visits and health insurance during this intense, confusing time.”

These one-time grants are a direct response to concerns about sustainability in the documentary field, with overall lack of adequate healthcare alongside loss of livelihood due to canceled production, festivals and theatricals. In its pilot year, the fund distributed over $20,000 and directly supported 25 artists with medical bills, housing and stopgap support amidst career instability.

The Artist Emergency Fund is made possible with support from Open Society Foundations, Shizuka Asakawa, the Chicago Media Project, Genuine Article Pictures and a number of other generous individuals. For more information on ways to support this fund, contact Savannah Lennertz at


Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world’s boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. Always an innovator, POV discovers fresh new voices and creates interactive experiences that shine a light on social issues and elevate the art of storytelling. With our documentary broadcasts, original online programming and dynamic community engagement campaigns, we are committed to supporting films that capture the imagination and present diverse perspectives.

POV Community Engagement and Education

POV Engage works with educators, librarians, community organizations and PBS stations to present more than 650 free screenings every year. In addition, we distribute free discussion guides, reading lists and standards-aligned lesson plans for each of our films. With our community partners, we inspire dialogue around the most important social issues of our time.

POV Spark

Since 1994, POV Digital has driven new storytelling initiatives and interactive production for POV. The department has continually experimented with web-based documentaries, producing PBS' first program website and the first Snapchat-native documentary. It has won major awards for its work, including a Webby Award and over 19 nominations. Now with a singular focus on incubating and distributing interactive productions, POV Spark continues to explore the future of independent nonfiction media through its co-productions, acquisitions and the POV Labs, where media makers and technologists collaborate to reinvent storytelling forms.


Co-produced by American Documentary, Inc. and WORLD Channel, AMERICA REFRAMED brings to national audiences compelling stories that illuminate the changing contours of an ever-evolving America. The independent documentary series presents an array of personal voices and experiences through which we learn from our past, understand our present and are challenged to seek new frameworks for America’s future.

American Documentary, Inc.

American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia organization dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.