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Mayor Durkan Announces Initial $1.1 Million Arts Recovery Package to Support Creative Workers and Arts and Cultural Organizations Impacted by COVID-19

Mayor Will Shortly Sign New Executive Order Declaring a Moratorium on Commercial Evictions of Nonprofits and Small Businesses

Seattle (March 17, 2020) – Building on the City’s initial measures to provide financial relief for small businesses, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced $1.1 million in City of Seattle funding to invest directly in creative workers and arts and cultural organizations financially impacted by COVID-19. The investment is a combination of funding strategies designed to help the arts and culture sector through direct grants to organizations and creative workers most impacted by this crisis.

The Mayor’s Arts Recovery Package is composed of two key initiatives:

  1. $100,000 in immediate relief for artists and creative workers through two private artist relief funds; and
  2. $1 million Arts Stabilization Fund to invest in arts and cultural organizations to help mitigate revenue losses due to the moratorium on events and public gatherings.

“Our creative industries are the heartbeat of Seattle, and we know that organizations and workers in this sector have been devastated by this crisis,” said Mayor Durkan. “With the Arts Recovery Package, we’re investing directly in our most vulnerable arts and cultural organizations, artists, and creative workers, and we are committed to doing everything possible to keep them afloat during this unprecedented moment in history. Arts and culture are woven into the fabric of our city, and we are evaluating robust actions that we can continue to take at the City in partnership with community leaders.”

“Seattle wouldn’t be the city it is today without its musicians, artists, performers and cultural institutions. I want to thank the community for coming together to organize creative solutions during this crisis. By the City contributing $50,000 to the Seattle Artists Relief Fund, which was started by artists for fellow artists, we recognize the best ideas on how to help community come from community,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the CID), current chair of the Council’s Arts Committee.

“Many artists support themselves through gig work and may not be eligible for protections offered to employees. The performance aspect of their art requires public gatherings, which have been prohibited and artists are organizing to support themselves. I’m proud that the City is stepping up to provide relief for artists and cultural organizations, as we cannot lose our important art institutions during this crisis and must retain those cultural spaces for the future,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park), the Council’s former Arts Committee chair.

“Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Office of Arts & Culture are implementing immediate relief to our arts and culture sector who have been incredibly hard hit due to COVID-19. By partnering with local organizations, individuals and philanthropies we can expand our financial impact and provide immediate assistance to our cultural organizations and individuals. Arts and culture are the heart and soul of our city and we are committed to doing everything we can to support them during this unprecedented time,” said Randy Engstrom, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Director.

Individual Artist and Creative Workers Support: The City will invest $100,000 to provide immediate relief for artists and creative workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City’s Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) will invest $50,000 in the Seattle Artist Relief Fund, founded by Seattle author Ijeoma Oluo, which will bring the total current funding to $187,150. In addition, ARTS will invest another $50,000 in Artist Trust’s COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund, which provides rapid response grants supporting critical needs of artists whose livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic. You can find more information on these two programs here.

Arts Stabilization Fund: The City will also invest $1 million in arts and cultural organizations through the new Arts Stabilization Fund. The focus of the funding will be on arts and cultural organizations that have been impacted by the moratorium on events and public gatherings. These organizations rely on ticket sales, attendance and fundraising efforts. The recent and necessary actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from State of Washington and Public Health – Seattle & King County have greatly impacted the arts and culture sector. Funds will be distributed through the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s grant programs.

Over the past week, Mayor Durkan has implemented a series of actions including, deferring utility payments and a temporary moratorium on residential evictions, to provide relief for working people financially impacted by COVID-19. For small businesses, she announced a relief package that included deferred business taxes and a stabilization fund. She continues to advocate for a comprehensive small business and worker relief package from Congress to provide immediate and lasting relief to Seattle communities impacted by COVID-19, and the City is working quickly to scale new programs.

The City has created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.