As part of our series of blog posts responding to Coronavirus, we’re looking at how we can support the arts in Seattle. The necessary but painful “social distancing” is affecting the survivability of many arts orgs in a variety of ways. Fortunately, we can do something about it.
Make no mistake: It’s always a struggle for arts orgs to stay afloat, and this sudden loss of revenue could and possibly will destroy many of them. Doing all we can to protect human life is priority one, but we want the arts in Seattle to survive this crisis, too.
As always, individual working artists will be among the first to feel the impact of this social and financial crisis.
Support the Arts in Seattle: A List Of Actions And Funds
The community has responded quickly to the effects that COVID will have on the arts. Already, we are seeing community leaders creating fundraisers for immediate action, and granting organizations figuring out next steps for long-term support. No one knows when this will be over, but the effects will last longer than the quarantine, for sure.
- ArtsFund has seeded half of a $2 million relief fund for artists and orgs, and is hoping to double that through donations. If you can donate, great! If you know an artist who could apply, spread the word. (Spread the word either way, actually.)
- Writer/Activist Ijeoma Oluo and associates started a GoFundMe campaign, aiming for $300k to support grants for artists. It’s OVER halfway to its goal. You can donate (and it’s tax-deductible), or let your artists friends know so they can be ready to apply for assistance. They sent out the first wave of $45k in emergency assistance on March 20th.
- The Rauschenberg Foundation is launching emergency grants (up to $5k) for artists with emergency medical expenses. Donate and spread the word.
- SMASH is an organization offering support to musicians in need of assistance with healthcare expenses. They’re stepping up their outreach during this crisis.
- Creative Capital has a whole list of national organizations supporting artists who are stepping up during this crisis.
Now let’s look at just some of the arts organizations in Seattle, and when you have read up on these, read our blog about small business support, too.
The Seattle Museums
Let’s start with the most visible of Seattle arts institutions, the museums. These institutions are not the most vulnerable at this moment, but we want to encourage you to support them, too, in the months ahead.
For larger museums, ticket revenues are not the majority of their income—donations and memberships are. In the case of The Frye Art Museum (which is always free but has perks for members), ticket revenues are not the issue at all.
Become a member of one or two if you aren’t already.
Theatre Companies, Dance and Live Performers
These organizations are among some of the hardest hit. The ban on all gatherings and CDC guidelines for social distancing have canceled countless performances. Ticket sales are what sustain these performers and groups, and even when they get grants and donors, it is contingent on their ability to have an audience.
Just before all public gatherings were banned, we were fortunate enough to see the incredible new work of Raja Feather Kelly, UGLY Black Queer Zoo. What was already a limited run was reduced to that single weekend, as Washington Ensemble Theatre had to cancel the remaining performances. It hurts: We hate that people missed their chance to see it, and that the artists involved were deprived of income and their chance to share this work.
It’s happening all around Seattle, but we can still support the arts and these folks, even if the show must NOT go on – for now.
If you purchased a ticket to a canceled show, please consider treating the ticket cost as a donation. These orgs are run by smart, creative people who are already working lean and scrappy. Their livelihoods are going to take a serious hit either way, so every little bit counts to ensuring they can weather the months ahead, both as individuals and organizations. Below is just a short list of Theater and Companies that have closed performances and shows during the COVID crisis.
Film and Music
The ban on gatherings has instantly shuttered cinemas and concert venues. We aren’t worried about Regal or AMC, but we were crushed to hear that SIFF is canceling its entire festival this year. (It’s not a bad idea to get a membership to support them and see great films when this is over.) But artsy independent cinemas like The Beacon, which is owned by someone in our Divaland community, are really gonna take a hit from this.
Naturally, our other great local film gem is Northwest Film Forum. Again, one of the best things you can do now is donate or become a member. They are huge supporters of both local and international independent film making. And because film is such a multidisciplinary practice, when we support film, we truly support the arts in Seattle in a diverse way.
As for music, now may be the time to discover some great local music and support them directly. Check out this growing list of local bands with Bandcamp pages. Tune in from the comfort of your home, and if you like what you hear, buy from the artists.
The Art Galleries
Last but certainly not least, the visual art galleries are also going to take a hit. People won’t stop collecting art, for sure. But in an economic downturn, sales will drop. It’s worse when people are reluctant to go out at all.
Not everyone can rush out and buy a multi-thousand dollar painting to help galleries keep the lights on. If they can, they probably will still be considering it regardless of COVID. You can check out SADA (Seattle Art Dealers Association) to see what’s up in some of the larger galleries, but we will highlight a few, smaller galleries we love. When we say “Support The Arts in Seattle,” we want to include everyone who can participate.
- Ghost Gallery on Capitol Hill just launched its annual Art of the Tarot exhibit, which brings in art from around the world. The sheer variety of styles is worth seeing, and the prices are very attainable for first-time collectors. Ghost Gallery also has great local jewelry and even wine, if your walls are already full. You can check out some of the good online.
- Roq La Rue Gallery is also on Capitol Hill, and also carries a small selection of decor, jewelry and art book in addition to curated shows. In response to COVID, the physical gallery space is closed, but there si still a virtual show of gorgeous, mysterious digital works by Polish artist Dawid Planeta.
- Virago Gallery in West Seattle is another woman-owned gallery and shop, devoted especially to designs and art by women and LGBTQ artists. Check out their online shop and get inspired.
- Columbia City Art Gallery in (you guessed it) Columbia City is like a showroom for dozens and dozens of local artists and artisans. It is closed temporarily, but you can still see examples of the work and make inquiries online.
If we all do our part to support the arts in Seattle during this crisis, they may come out more appreciated than ever.
We can do this, Divaland. Now hop over to our other post about supporting small businesses in Seattle during the COVID crisis. Stay Well, Stay Healthy and #StayHome!