Spokane Arts raising money to assist unemployed artists, creatives impacted by COVID-19

Artists and Creatives Emergency Fund
Copyright 4 News Now
Spokane Arts raising money to assist local artists who are now unemployed

SPOKANE, Wash. — Many self-employed and freelance artists’ primary income comes from gigs and events that are now canceled due to COVID-19.

This includes musicians, photographers, teaching artists, authors, actors, and many others who don’t qualify for unemployment benefits if they’re not wage-based workers.

In an effort to help them, Spokane Arts is raising money through a Spokane Artists and Creatives Emergency Fund.

The goal is to crowd-source funding to be distributed directly to creatives in the Spokane area and help give them short term relief.

Spokane Arts said as of last week, they’ve already distributed $5,100 in emergency grants to 14 artists.

Any self-employed creatives that want to apply for emergency funding need only verify that they’re self-employed on the Spokane Arts website.

“Basically it’s a very simple form. We’re asking them questions about what work was cancelled, what opportunities did you lose, that you already had scheduled and lined up,” said Executive Director of Spokane Arts Melissa Huggins. “And then we ask them, send us your resume, send us a link to your website and that sort of thing.”

Local artists can request up to $500 in relief funding via PayPal or paper check.

On the same webpage, there is a link to donate to the emergency fund.

“These are, just like anyone else in Spokane, these are our friends and neighbors, they’re hardworking people,” said Huggins. “They’re single moms, they’re people who have medical issues. Many of them have disabilities, so this is a really concrete way to give back to the community and help these workers get through this tough time until things reopen and they can get back to work.”

Right now, Spokane Arts has requests totaling over $31,000 and is contributing about $25,000 of it, but they encourage the community to donate as more requests come in.

“The money that Spokane Arts is contributing toward this effort, in the hopes that we can help as many artists as possible while also galvanizing community support behind this effort, is $25,000 that we received as a gift a few years ago from the Jeanette Harras Trust,” said Huggins. “Jeanette Harras was a lifelong community advocate and arts supporter, and when she passed away she gifted various local organizations with her estate. We’d set aside that money for a project to be determined, and we decided this was the best way to honor her legacy, by supporting individual artists in need.”