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As COVID-19 impacts local arts groups, some financial relief from ArtsFund

Photo courtesy Joseph Lambert
A ballet class with Gilbert Small during Strictly Seattle 2019 festival at Velocity Dance Center. The center was among 80 organizations to receive funding through ArtsFund's COVID-19 emergency relief fund.

Arts, cultural and scientific nonprofits in the central Puget Sound region could face up to $135 million in lost revenue by the end of September. That’s the latest projection from a surveyby ArtsFund, a group that supports arts organizations through advocacy and grant-making.



ArtsFund announced the first round of recipients of its COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund in a press conference Monday. Eighty arts and culture groups in King County received $2.6 million from the relief fund. In addition, the organization expedited its annual grant program to distribute $2.2 million to 66 groups in King and Pierce Counties.


James Miles is the executive director of the educational organization Arts Corps, one of the recipients of the funds. He said the grants will help support the organization as it shifts from teaching art in-person to online.


"We’re trying to take care of the individuals that work at Arts Corps in a sustainable way to keep them working, to keep young people engaged, learning, and with a platform for expression," Miles said during the press conference.

Wier Harman, executive Director at Town Hall Seattle, estimated the cultural center will have canceled or postponed nearly 200 events by the end of June. Town Hall was also among the recipients of the emergency relief fund.

Harman said a lot remains uncertain about what reopening the space might look like. Arts and culture spaces like Town Hall anticipate a slow return to normal operations.

"We can’t account for audience behavior and we assume that many people will not feel comfortable or safe entering spaces, no matter the precautions that we take," Harman said during the press conference.

Workers in the arts and culture sector have also been hit hard. According to ArtsFund'ssurvey,4,976 employees in the sector have been furloughed or laid off. Most of the survey respondents were organizations located in King County, and others were in Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Arts & Culture ArtsCoronavirus CoverageCOVID-19
Rebekah Way is an on-call news host at KNKX. She began her career in public radio as a news intern at KNKX, where she's also worked as an interim producer and reporter. Rebekah holds a life-long passion for music and also works as a professional musician and educator in the Seattle area.