New study shows how COVID-19 changed art and culture in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash — A new study released on Wednesday by the nonprofit ArtsFund found exactly how COVID-19 impacted arts and culture in Washington.

Executive Director for Spokane Arts Melissa Huggins sat on the advisory committee for the COVID-19 Cultural Impact Survey. She explained the findings of the study will be used as a tool in front of legislators to get more funding for the arts.

That investment would help keep arts and culture across the state going as the Omicron variant makes way and cancels events.

“How do we increase accessibility to youth, to people who live in retirement homes, to people who live in rural areas? So that investment could help us serve so many other communities that aren’t participating in arts and culture as they could be or want to be,” she said.

The study saw a 17 percent drop in volunteers, a big impact for Eastern Washington whose organizations are mostly volunteer-based. Digital and virtual variations continue, but their future is uncertain here.

Denny Carmen organizes events showcasing artists. For him, the pandemic has been hard.

“Everything’s been closed down, so trying to adjust all that to keep the artists busy and to keep their work out there has really been tough,” he said. “I’m learning how to adjust, how I treat artists, how I get them out there which is virtual or anything I can do to get them out without them having to be around people.”

He hopes eventually things get back to pre-pandemic times.

“I just want to get it back the way it was,” Carmen said. “I know it’s not going to be, but that’s my hope. There’s got to be a way we can do this, events in a safe way.”

You can find the complete survey here.