As of Nov. 1, Sierra Arts Foundation now offers health insurance for Nevada artists.
This nonprofit organization, stationed in downtown Reno, offers professional development, grants, and education to Nevada artists within a 200-mile radius of its headquarters. Executive director Tracey Oliver said that because there is not a similar artists’ support organization in Southern Nevada, Sierra Arts has made membership and health insurance available statewide.
“During COVID, there was a lot of federal funding that went out, and because there was no entity that could give it out the way Sierra Arts was able to give it out, a lot of people in Las Vegas and the rural communities didn’t get that money,” Oliver said. “So, we’re hoping it takes off even down south. We just want people to be insured and have peace of mind.”
Artists applying for insurance must be Sierra Arts members. The membership fee is $35 per year. Applicants may sign up as individuals, couples, or families. Coverage options include basic medical, dental, vision, hospital indemnity, and pet insurance. The plans, which are written by Old Glory Insurance, range from $45 to $400 per month.
“I haven’t seen any kind of insurance that’s even in the ballpark, price-wise,” Oliver said. “This is fantastically affordable.”
The current application window extends through Nov. 20. Oliver said it takes time for artists to be put into the system, so the organization will pause the open enrollment for 10 days and restart it in December.
Oliver said that the idea of offering health insurance has been “on the bucket list of every executive director that the Sierra Arts has had” but that it started to seem more urgent during the pandemic.
“Most of our artists and performing artists in Reno, they were kind of left without when it all happened,” she said. “So we knew ahead of time that it was important, and that just drew a highlighter through it.”
As far as Oliver can tell, this is not a national trend. The arrangement came about via connections between board members and insurance industry contacts.
“I’d like the bigger message to be beyond the creatives [and] to the public, ‘Yes, we are a group to be reckoned with,’” Oliver said. “I’m hoping that this is just one more leg under that pillar to raise the arts up as an important—not only career, but financial structure in Northern Nevada.”
Oliver and her colleagues believe that artists, who are typically gig workers, deserve the same benefits as people in any other profession.
She said that singing up for Sierra Arts’ health insurance plans is easy and flexible, and that people are available to answer any questions for participants throughout the process.
You can find more information about Sierra Arts membership and health insurance plans here.
This article was funded by a grant from the City of Reno and the National Endowment for the Arts.