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Local art-related nonprofits benefit from CARES Act funding

  • Thu Jan 7th, 2021 11:37am
  • News

Submitted by San Juan Islands Museum of Art

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding brings much-needed assistance to the state’s cultural sector and San Juan County organizations. Nearly 390 nonprofit arts and culture organizations serving 32 Washington counties received funding in recent rounds of CARES Act funding in Washington state. The state’s creative economy supports more than 17,600 arts and culture-related businesses and more than 305,000 jobs.

Administered by Washington State Arts Commission in partnership with the Washington Department of Commerce, and with the support of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Office of Financial Management, the $3.405 million available in two successive grant pools will bolster organizations whose arts and creative programs employ thousands of people and contribute to the economic vitality and quality of life in communities across the state.

The one-time grants were made available to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, including tribal organizations, and fiscally sponsored groups impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds can be used to cover pandemic-related losses during the 2020 calendar year.

In the first pool of funds, ArtsWA partnered with Commerce to provide $1.445 million in grants to nonprofit arts organizations. The agencies received 387 applications and were able to fund 249 organizations. Organizations were able to request up to $10,000, and grant amounts ranged from $2,000 to $8,300. Funding was prioritized for organizations that serve under-resourced communities, culturally diverse populations, and underrepresented groups.

“Nonprofits are essential to supporting a vibrant creative economy in good times, and the pandemic has stretched many to the breaking point,” Commerce Director Lisa Brown said. “These grants provide a lifeline to both struggling artists and the organizations that support them, helping to strengthen part of the very fabric of our communities.”

To help Commerce and ArtsWA fund more applicants, OFM provided a second pool of CARES funds, in the amount of $2 million dollars, to ArtsWA. These additional funds allowed ArtsWA to provide grants to the 138 organizations from the first round that were not funded and increase the awards for the 249 previously funded organizations.

“We are grateful that the governor, Commerce and the budget office recognize the importance of the arts and culture sector to Washington’s economy,” ArtsWA Executive Director Karen Hanan said. “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.”

The grants will support organizations all throughout the state. Approximately 58 percent of all grants went to organizations outside King County.

Additionally, in early spring, ArtsWA received $431,600 in CARES Act funds from the Federal Government through the National Endowment for the Arts. Monies were aimed at providing rapid-relief grants to nonprofit arts organizations. At that time, 143 organizations from 29 Washington counties were funded. In total, ArtsWA has disbursed $3,836,600 in CARES Act funding in 2020. To view a complete list of organizations that received funding, visit.

The arts and cultural organizations funded in the San Juan County were to Alchemy Art Center; Canoe Island French Camp; Lopez Community and Art Center; Orcas Center; Orcas Choral Society; Orcas Island Historical Society; Orcas Island Lit Fest; San Juan Community Theatre; San Juan Islands Historical Society and Museum; and San Juan Islands Museum of Art.