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Seattle artists 'super excited' for return of multi-day ‘Refract’ glass festival

Nearly 60 local artists from more than a dozen glass art studios are participating in this year’s Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience event.

SEATTLE — A four-day glass art festival featuring dozens of artists and studios kicks off in Seattle on Thursday, October 14.

"Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience" is designed to celebrate the area’s rich glass art industry while helping revive the art scene heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chihuly Garden and Glass and Visit Seattle collaborated to create the nation’s newest glass art event. The festival runs from Oct. 14-17, with more than 50 events at locations around the city.

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Nearly 60 local glass artists from more than a dozen glass art studios are featured in Refract events, with opportunities to meet the artists and open houses.

The festival started in 2019 but, like many events, went virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, attendees can choose from a mix of in-person shows, demos, parties, and exhibitions, alongside streaming options and online programs.

Seattle Glassblowing Studio in the Belltown neighborhood, which is celebrating 30 years in business, is one of the many studios participating in this year’s event.

“We’re super excited to have people back in for Refract this year,” said Terri Sullivan with Seattle Glassblowing Studio. “It’s been great all three years, but there is something magical about having people [back] in the studio."

COVID’s impact on the art scene 

The nonprofit organization ArtsFund surveyed 77 Central Puget Sound arts, cultural, heritage, and scientific nonprofits in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties about the continued impacts from the pandemic.

According to the survey, 56% of the respondents had staff furloughed or laid off at some point during the pandemic. Staff furloughs and layoffs reached a high of 74% in April 2020 and 73% in October 2020.

Overall income was on the decline for professionals in arts, cultural, heritage, and scientific nonprofits – in addition to a loss in contributed income from galas, benefits and guilds, according to ArtsFund.