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Seattle artists impacted by COVID-19 find hope in relief efforts

First to shut down and likely the last to come back online, artists and their venues will need long term support.

SEATTLE — When local artists had to start canceling exhibitions, shows, and concerts, Artist Trust shifted its focus from helping artists build their careers to providing relief to save them. "A lot of them are operating on slim profit margins and they saw their income cut off immediately," said Artist Trust CEO Shannon Halberstadt. 

Artist Trust recently raised gave $350,000 in grants away to 200  artists greatly impacted by the stay at home order. But the need was greater than they could accommodate as more than 2,000 people applied. And throughout the region, close to 5,000 artists have either been furloughed or laid-off.  

Fortunately, other non-profits are doing what they can to help.

Arts Fund recently announced 4.8 million dollars in grants to dozens of arts and cultural non-profits. They say 76 percent of donors to the relief effort had never before given to Arts Fund. Grant recipients found this news encouraging because it confirmed what they instinctively knew: that arts and culture have a place in the present; and in the recovery.

"I believe communal gatherings to experience the magic of musical theatre, or ballet, or the symphony, is one that will not be substituted for digital content. It's a basic need of humans to gather together to experience a collective outpouring of our souls," said Bernadine Griffin, the Managing Director of the 5th Avenue Theatre.

She added that venues like the 5th Avenue are in phase 4 of the reopening and so the financial impact will last longer than some other businesses. 

Information on how to help the various organizations supporting artists can be found at the following links:  Langston Hughes' Seattle Artist Relief Fund, Artist Trust Covid-19 Relief, Arts Fund

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