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Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Directed $2.56M in Federal Recovery Funding to the Creative Sector 

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) has successfully directed $2.56 million in federal recovery funding for the City’s arts and cultural sector to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19. In August, the City released the Seattle Rescue Plan: 2023 Performance Report (Aug. 1, 2022 – July 31, 2023). The report highlights Arts and Culture as a key strategy in Seattle’s recovery. Departments across the city partnered with artists and cultural organizations that supported events and activations to bolster economic revitalization efforts and community wellness.   

From July 2022-May 2023, ARTS implemented four, one-time funding projects to support the arts sector:

  1. Cultural Organization Reopening Funds
  2. Hope Corps Beloved
  3. Created Commons
  4. Technical Assistance program

ARTS allocated $2.56 million dollars and staff resources for reopening, recruitment and retention of Cultural Workers, increased racial equity capacity, and to create outdoor arts and culture experiences for residents. 

Additional recovery programs with majority of public activities taking place after May 2023 (Neighborhood Recovery Funding, Arts & Cultural Districts Recovery, and Hope Corps) will be shared out in a later report. 

Cultural Organization Reopening Funds – Reopening Safely and Sustainably ($1.91M allocated) 

The Cultural Organization Reopening Funds provided $1.91 million in direct financial assistance for 154 Seattle-based organizations to reopen safely. ARTS partnered with 4Culture to create a joint application for organizations, allowing them to apply once for federal funding from ARTS and 4Culture for pandemic-related income loss. 

Organizations could utilize the funding to support reopening efforts including to re-hire/pay staff, rent and utilities, costs related to COVID-19 safely protocols, and/or restart public programing. The greatest requested needs were for rehiring and paying staff/artists and restarting public programs. As a result of this funding organizations reported supporting over 4,500 Seattle based-creative/cultural workers and more than 1,000 public events attended by over 430,000 people including youth and seniors. 

Created Commons ($375,000 allocated) 

Created Commons was an expansive multi-agency initiative that centered, engaged, and employed artists, communities, and cultural workers to activate public space for community connections, and resiliency. Created Commons supported artists and community recovery efforts by working with community-curators and artists to transform outdoor public spaces across Seattle. In 2022, four neighborhoods (Chinatown/International District, Pioneer Square, Lake City, and Belltown/Waterfront) throughout Seattle hosted a series of arts and cultural events and activations as part of the Created Commons program.  Additional projects were funded in 2023.  

Hope Corps Beloved – A Media Campaign on Gun Violence as a Pandemic ($250,000 allocated) 

The multi-agency funded Hope Corps Beloved, was a multi-media campaign to address gun violence as a public health issue. Utilizing federal funds, Hope Corp Beloved employed 58 creative workers (93% BIPOC) throughout the campaign. Hope Corps connects under- and unemployed workers in creative industries with career opportunities that benefit the public. 

The Beloved campaign launched in February 2022 and its goal was to amplify the message that ‘Everyone lost to gun violence is someone’s Beloved’. Through a multi-media approach, Beloved explored the impact of gun violence. 

Technical Assistance Supporting Rehiring of Workers ($25,000 allocated) 

ARTS offered a Technical Assistance Program and best practice guidance for the hiring/rehiring of BIPOC artists and cultural workers via webinar with follow-up online content to arts and cultural organizations and creative businesses throughout the region. The program invested in the expertise of BIPOC artists and cultural workers to highlight initiatives, strategies, and ideas to operationalize inclusivity and anti-racist practices in hiring processes, emphasizing lessons and impacts from the pandemic.   

Learn more about how Seattle’s COVID-19 recovery investments have helped arts organizations reopen, supported creative workers, and more in the latest performance report: