ArtsFund Awards Over Half a Million Dollars in Additional Relief to a Hurting Cultural Sector

By: Jul. 01, 2020
ArtsFund Awards Over Half a Million Dollars in Additional Relief to a Hurting Cultural Sector

Responding to COVID-19's ongoing devastating impacts on the nonprofit arts and cultural sector in the Central Puget Sound Region, ArtsFund announced a second round of emergency relief grants totaling $512,500. The distribution of these grants to 26 King, Pierce, and Snohomish County arts and cultural organizations follows an initial release of relief funds in early May, and reaches groups not funded in the first grant cycle. Between these two relief fund allocations, ArtsFund has awarded $3,152,500 in Arts Emergency Relief grants to 106 organizations throughout the Central Puget Sound Region.

In early response to the pandemic and its economic impact, ArtsFund launched the COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund in March, in conjunction with a coalition of arts organizations. The fund raised over $3.1M from 360 supporters. 100% of the funds raised were distributed as unrestricted grants, ranging from $2,500-$75,000. Organizations indicate grants will be applied to support operations, payroll and salaries, health insurance, facilities costs, and artist fees. In addition, grants will support the transition to digital programming, both through the creation of new virtual programming and acquisition of technology and tech support enabling the transition. Grants will also support staff training and the purchase of equipment and supplies necessary to ensure safe and compliant reopening.

The Arts Emergency Relief grants are in addition to the early distribution of $2.19M in ArtsFund's annual keystone grants, for a total of $5.3M in grants to 111 organizations awarded since the COVID crisis began.

"There's no denying that our community and our sector nationwide is in crisis, and ArtsFund has been at the forefront of relief with both our grant making and our leadership. Thanks to our dedicated supporters, as well as an influx of new donors, we are making significant investments in a time of crisis," said Michael Greer, ArtsFund President & CEO. "But we know so much more is needed. While we have provided over $5.3M in desperately needed relief funding to date, this only represents an average of 5% of the need identified by our applicants. There is much more work to do and we are asking our community to not lose sight of this critical sector, its people, and its institutions."

The economic and human effects of mandated closures have struck the cultural sector, centered around bringing people together, notably hard. As of early May, 97% of the region's arts, cultural, and scientific nonprofits cancelled programs, and while many have been able to provide digital content, the majority of in-person programming remains paused. Early May tallies of nearly 5,000 employees furloughed or laid off have been surpassed by recent furlough and layoff announcements made by cultural organizations around ongoing season delays and cancellations. Initial revenue losses by arts, cultural, and scientific nonprofits have been projected to reach $135M. For additional data and downloadable materials from ArtsFund's May sector impact report, visit

"The recovery will be as important as the relief, and what we as a community do now will define our sector and our region for generations to come," Greer said. "Art and artists connect us and create the places we want to be. Arts are poised not only to play a role in economic recovery, they will be critical to our personal and interpersonal recovery as well. As we pivot from relief to recovery, ArtsFund will continue to engage the community and galvanize the resources needed to contribute meaningfully."

For a list of ArtsFund's emergency relief grant recipients, visit

For more information about ArtsFund, visit