Want to support local artists, locally owned creative businesses and nonprofit organizations? Eager to advocate for one of the hardest-hit sectors of our local economy? Take the City of Spokane’s short community input survey on how you’d like to see the city’s CARES Act funding allocated! Both the City of Spokane and Spokane County have (separately) been awarded CARES Act funding from the federal government. Intended to help address emergency relief efforts and spur economic recovery, the exact ways that the city’s funding is used is partially up to you and your input. The City wants community input on how to allocate that funding and you can help by identifying support for the arts as an important priority! This is a fast and easy way for you to advocate!
So many people in our community are facing drastic need right now. As you know, the arts and the creative economy are woven into so many valuable aspects of our region’s culture and economy. Spokane Arts is advocating for high priority to be placed on “financial assistance for artists and performance venues” (which would include arts non-profits and creative organizations) and “financial assistance for locally owned neighborhood businesses” (which includes many creative businesses like galleries, restaurants, bookstores, art supply stores, etc.) Please fill out the survey ASAP! City staff will start looking at the survey results immediately. We need to show the arts mean business.
Please share the survey on your social media, email it to everyone you know, make a few phone calls. We need to show our city leaders there is a groundswell of community support for offering emergency assistance to our sector. Arts, culture and creativity have sustained people through this crisis, and they are the solution out of it. Who better to chart a course forward in a post-covid world than creatives? But in order to be part of the solution, local arts organizations and individual artists need to make it through this scary time.
The survey includes opportunities to share your comments on your priorities. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- Arts and culture, especially the performing arts, have been hit harder than many sectors. While many businesses are able to partially open, do curbside service, or sell merchandise online, none of those options are available to performing arts venues and many other arts nonprofits.
- For Spokane to continue to be a regional cultural hub, arts organizations have to survive the pandemic, and they won’t be able to do that unless there are grants or assistance available to them.The city should allocate a significant portion of its CARES act dollars toward ensuring our city continues to have arts and culture.
- Unlike other businesses, performing arts venues may not be able to open until Phase 4. That means many will not be able to host a single event for the remainder of this year, which means they can’t hire back their workers, which means more people out of jobs long-term.
- Arts mean business.Performing arts venues are not simply “nice to have” in our city. They generate significant tax and parking revenues, and they also benefit every restaurant, bar, and coffee shop within their vicinity. We need performing arts venues as part of the ecosystem.
- Individual artists represent 11% of the workforce in Spokane, and the majority of them are unemployed right now due to the pandemic.Artists can’t make a living until public health regulations allow them to perform at music venues, theaters, comedy clubs, bars, and wineries, and they can’t sell their work as easily when there are no street fairs, First Fridays, and other gatherings. (Those are only a few examples; tell them YOUR story.) Many artists won’t be able to return to work until Phase 3 or 4, and if the arts organization or venue they rely on for income doesn’t survive the shutdowns, they’ll be out of work for even longer.
- While many for-profit businesses have received federal SBA loans and grants from the Department of Commerce, arts & culture nonprofits have either not been eligible or have had a harder time accessing aid, especially organizations who are tribal or POC-led.
Have you read this recent Spokesman Review article about our hard-hit creative community? The fact is, arts businesses and nonprofits have not received as much support as other sectors, and they need it desperately. Nonprofit organizations and creative businesses and individual artists are all in need of more support, just to survive. Support your local arts organizations and creative businesses directly through your purchases and donations, and encourage our local government to support this important part of our economy by identifying financial assistance for artists and performance venues as extremely important in this survey!