< Back To News

Click here to view or download a PDF of the release.

For Immediate Release
May 4, 2020                                                                                                                         

Information: Sarah Sidman | 206-788-3051 | sarahsidman@artsfund.org
ArtsFund, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Communications

ArtsFund Invests $4.8M in Grants and Releases New Data on COVID-19 Impact on Cultural Nonprofits

SEATTLE, WA—Responding to COVID-19’s devastating impacts on the nonprofit arts and cultural sector in the Central Puget Sound Region, ArtsFund announces grants to arts and cultural nonprofits totaling $4,831,100. This total includes both an early distribution of ArtsFund’s keystone annual operating support grants as well as emergency support payments from ArtsFund’s COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund. All grants are unrestricted. Today’s announcement brings ArtsFund’s total grant making since its launch in 1969 to nearly $89 million.

ArtsFund’s keystone grant making program, now in its 51st year, provides general operating support enabling grant recipients to invest the funds where needed most to advance their missions. These grants, totaling $2,191,100, are being awarded to 66 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in King and Pierce counties. For a list of grant recipients, visit artsfund.org/2020KeystoneGrants.

An additional $2,640,000 in emergency relief grants, ranging from $5,000-$75,000 each, have been distributed to 80 King County cultural nonprofits. These grants provide short-term relief in the form of unrestricted funding to arts organizations which have been particularly hard hit during this public health emergency. For a list of grant recipients, visit artsfund.org/CovidRelief.

“This is not business as usual. In a typical year, ArtsFund makes grant decisions in late June, with grant totals based on the outcomes of its annual fundraising campaign,” said Susan M. Coliton, ArtsFund Interim President & CEO. “With the unanticipated, immediate, and devastating impacts of the pandemic on arts nonprofits, we expedited our annual grants process to meet the escalating need. We also established an Arts Emergency Relief Fund to provide emergency grants to help arts organizations maintain core functions and core staff so they are able to reopen when possible. Both of these funding efforts are central to ArtsFund’s mission to strengthen community through support of the arts.

Funds for the keystone grants continue to be raised through ArtsFund’s annual fundraising campaign, which runs through September 30, 2020. Contributions can be made at artsfund.org/Donate. Funds for emergency relief grants are being raised through the COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund, which launched on March 20, 2020. The relief fund was established by ArtsFund in partnership with a coalition of anchor arts organizations in Seattle. The two concurrent fundraising efforts are mobilizing a wide range of corporate, foundation, and individual supporters. Critical support came from the ArtsFund Foundation, which seeded the the Relief Fund with a $1M investment and increased its annual distribution to support the early distribution of our keystone grants. Gifts to the COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund are still being accepted. A second round of relief grants will be awarded soon. A list of relief fund supporters, additional relief fund information, and contributions to the Relief Fund can be made at artsfund.org/CovidRelief.

“I am inspired by the fact that 74% of the donors to our relief fund are first time contributors to ArtsFund,” said Michael Greer, Incoming ArtsFund President & CEO. “This confirms the idea that arts and culture is as relevant and essential to our communities today as it ever was.”

ArtsFund today also announces updated data on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nonprofit cultural sector in the Central Puget Sound region. ArtsFund collected data between April 6, 2020 and April 20, 2020 from 90 organizations representing arts, culture, and science nonprofits. The respondents are predominantly based out of King County (93%) with the remainder of respondents based out of Pierce and Snohomish Counties (7%). Complete survey results can be found here: artsfund.org/CovidArtsImpacts.


  • Projected loss of revenue for fiscal year 2020 is between $133,245,923 and $135,340,923. The range allows for low and high impact estimates, factoring in uncertainty about when and how organizations will be allowed to reopen. These estimates do not capture the losses that will carry over into next fiscal year.


  • 4,976 employees have been furloughed or laid off. This includes 638 full-time, 1508 part-time, and 2830 seasonal-and contractual-staff. This total does not capture hiring freezes that organizations implemented, many of whom hire additional seasonal or contractual employees for their high season.


  • 97% of our region’s arts, cultural and scientific nonprofits have had to cancel programs as a result of this crisis. These programs provide not only organizational revenue, they also play important roles in their communities.
  • Nonprofits also depend on fundraisers for critical contributed income, and a staggering 76% of cultural nonprofits have had to cancel their fundraisers as a result of the pandemic.

“Fundamentally, ArtsFund’s purpose is to foster the health of the arts community and amplify the contributions the arts make to the health of the greater Puget Sound community,” said Anthony R. Miles, ArtsFund Board Chair. “As we have over the past 50 years, ArtsFund will continue to evolve, pivot and respond, as necessary, to help meet the needs of the sector and to preserve access to arts and culture for the community at large.”For the complete data findings and downloadable materials, visit artsfund.org/CovidArtsImpacts.

For more information on ArtsFund’s keystone grant recipients, visit artsfund.org/GrantRecipients.

For a list of ArtsFund’s emergency relief grant recipients, visit artsfund.org/CovidRelief.

For more information about ArtsFund, visit artsfund.org/50

# # #

About ArtsFund:

ArtsFund strengthens the community by supporting the arts through leadership, advocacy, and grant making. Founded in October 1969, the Seattle-based nonprofit has been building community through the arts for 50 years and is one of the nation’s leading United Arts Funds. ArtsFund was originally founded as the United Arts Council of Puget Sound to bring corporate and civic leaders together to help establish and sustain our region’s arts and cultural institutions. 50 years later, ArtsFund has supported nearly 240 arts nonprofits with nearly $89 million in grants, and by providing valuable leadership and advocacy. For more on ArtsFund visit www.artsfund.org/50.