Relief package includes aid for individual artists, BIPOC arts organizations
Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park) applauded the Council’s passage of the $128.4 million Seattle Rescue Plan, which adds critical new investments in Seattle’s recovery, including assistance to arts organizations and businesses, as well as direct aid to individual artists.
The Seattle Rescue Plan as amended provides immediate aid and long-term investments to Seattle communities most impacted by the pandemic. Two amendments sponsored by Herbold direct new resources to the arts and culture sector, which has been uniquely and deeply hard hit, and may take longer to recover compared to other economic sectors.
“So many of us cherish the extraordinary contributions of our city’s community of artists, musicians and creative workers. Every day, their work enriches our lives and makes Seattle a unique and special place, but they are struggling to hang on. My additions to the Seattle Rescue Plan direct critical investments to small and BIPOC-led arts and cultural organizations,” Herbold said. “My additions also ensure that artists themselves are not excluded from the city’s COVID relief funds, and that the city does sufficient outreach to creative economy workers to ensure they’re aware of the fund and able to apply.”
Herbold sponsored two amendments supporting the arts. The first, Amendment 2 to CB 120093, provides $3 million to the Office of Arts and Culture for grants to arts and culture organizations and businesses, and ensures they are eligible for longer-term subsidized financing. The second, Amendment 2 to CB 120094, makes individual artists and creative workers eligible for direct financial assistance, as part of a $25 million fund for low-income households who have experienced the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 crisis and those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“Intentional and robust support of our sector and ecosystem through the ARPA funds is an essential strategy for interrupting the displacement and erasure of cultural communities, particularly in this moment,” said Reese Tanimura, chair of the Seattle Music Commission.
“The plain truth is that if you learned something about the history of racial, social, and economic justice this year there is, without a doubt, the work of Black, brown and Indigenous artists and culture bearers within that. If you retreated into the comfort of music, film, books, tv, gaming or some other digital content there is, most certainly, the work of many creatives and cultural workers within that. We thank Councilmember Herbold, as well as Councilmember Morales and Councilmember Mosqueda, for uplifting the value of our creative community; driving forward the opportunity to surpass what we left in 2019 towards the launch of a cultural renaissance in the City of Seattle,” Tanimura said.
“It is going to take a village to bring Seattle out of this crisis and the arts and cultural sector are uniquely positioned to unite and help bring feelings of safety and solace back to our city’s residents during this crucial COVID recovery period,” said Dr. Quinton Morris, Co-chair, Seattle Arts Commission. “Seattle is a leader in the cultural sector and these investments will support the arts and cultural life that makes our City so special, support social cohesion, and further business activity, all rooted in our City’s BIPOC communities and neighborhoods.”
“In the last year, artists created connections over screens, on pieces of plywood protecting buildings, and through their professional practices. These actions made people who were scared feel connected, gave communities whose voices had been silenced a microphone and created moments of joy and relief in an unprecedented time. We thank Councilmember Herbold for her recognition of the arts and cultural community and her commitment to invest in our future,” Dr. Morris concluded.
“We talk about building back better from the pandemic. As we move into the next phase of the pandemic, our arts and creative communities will be more important than ever,” Herbold shared. During Seattle Rescue Plan discussions, she noted that the City’s 2019 Creative Economy Study found that the creative sector drives 18 percent of Seattle’s GDP – four times the national average – making this sector critical to Seattle’s economic recovery.
Additionally, the relief funding for arts organizations is intended to ensure creative arts workers return to the industry. The King County Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation sector had the highest percentage of employment loss of any sector – 55 percent, according to Washington state’s Employment Security Department’s data from December 2019 to December 2020. By providing financial assistance and stabilization grants to arts and cultural organizations and businesses, those employers can reopen, bring back their staff, and continue their critical contributions to the economic, cultural, and social vibrancy we enjoy in Seattle.