Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA): State Agency with Deep Community Ties Made Sure Arts and Culture Organizations Were Supported

Sondra Santos
August 2, 2021

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the creative economy across the country, and the creative economy in Washington state was not spared. The Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) says the state’s creative economy supports more than 17,600 arts and culture-related businesses and more than 305,000 jobs. In 2020, the sector saw 72% of creative businesses in the state severely impacted by COVID-19, with $5.2 billion in lost revenue, $1.8 billion total loss revenue for creative workers, and nearly 80,000 creative employees losing their jobs.

To help alleviate COVID’s devastating impact, ArtsWA partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Budget Office/OFM, and the Legislature to distribute CARES Act funding to arts and culture nonprofits throughout the state. In 2020, ArtsWA distributed $3,836,600 in CARES Act funding to Washington State arts and culture nonprofits. This included distribution of grants of up to $10,000 to 447 organizations across the state in three separate rounds of funding.

Karen Hanan, Executive Director of ArtsWA, says, “We are grateful that the Governor, Commerce, and the Governor’s Budget Office recognize the importance of the arts and culture sector to Washington’s economy. Providing relief funding to these organizations, which have all been enormously impacted by the pandemic, will allow them to move toward a post-COVID world and continue to contribute to the vibrancy of their communities.”

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