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An Unprecedented Time: COVID-19 & the Arts

March 12, 2020

A message to ArtsFund supporters:

This is an unprecedented time in our region. Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee prohibited event gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Along with the governor’s 250-person order, King County announced new sanitary and social distancing rules for gatherings of fewer than 250 people. We stand together with our cultural partners, public agencies, and civic and community partners to slow the spread of COVID-19 and support the efforts to do what is necessary and effective to stem the outbreak.

At the same time, we know that the strong and active measures mandated yesterday, on top of COVID-19 impacts occurring even before the mandate, are having immediate and devastating effects on our region’s arts nonprofits, artists, cultural workers, and supporting businesses. We are hearing from many arts organizations about immediate and significant drops in patron numbers, loss in revenue from tickets and admissions, as well as cancellations and postponement of fundraising efforts.

We want to be clear – a loss of revenue for arts organizations is not loss of profit, it’s loss of the funds that provide paychecks for artists, staff, and contract workers, coupled with a loss of powerful artistic experiences for people in our community.

These losses are profound. Our latest Economic Impact Study tracked that arts, cultural and scientific organizations in the Central Puget Sound directly created and supported 18,778 jobs, with an additional 16,598 jobs indirectly supported in restaurants, parking, childcare, and more. Beyond immediate and long-term economic impacts, arts forge social cohesion, build neighborhood vitality, promote health and wellness (including mental health), and foster youth development. Now and in the future, the health of our community relies on the health of our arts organizations.

There is a role for everyone in responding to and recovering from this public health emergency. ArtsFund is currently focusing its resources to support the sector through data gathering, information sharing, and galvanizing financial support for the sector.

Here’s what YOU can do to help right now:

–Stay informed. If you have or had plans to attend an arts and cultural activity, check that organization’s social media and website for updates and communications. Some smaller events are still on, and many events and arts experiences are moving forward virtually. Check with the individual organization to stay up to date on their plans.

–If you are unable to attend an arts or cultural event that you previously planned to attend for any reason, consider donating your unused ticket back to the organization. Transferring your ticket purchase to a donation supports arts organizations’ futures in an uncertain time.

–If you have the resources, consider making a financial donation to arts and cultural organizations. If you’d like to help ArtsFund galvanize financial support for the sector, contact Sarah Friedman at

Share a message of support on social media, either sharing ArtsFund’s posts or creating your own.

While we’re at the beginning of this challenge, we are also looking towards recovery. During difficult times, we often turn to the arts for hope, inspiration, courage, and a vision for how to move forward. Our arts community needs support now so that they can continue to strengthen our community now and into the future. Thank you for standing with our region’s arts and cultural community in this unprecedented moment.

We encourage everyone to keep up to date with the latest recommendations from the King County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection.