Commerce awards $3.3 million to support, restart community festivals and events

Tourism relief grants go to 284 organizations to support small local events, festivals and civic celebrations in 36 counties

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the Washington Festivals and Events Association (WFEA) and ArtsWA, today announced 284 successful applicants in 36 of the state’s 39 counties to receive more than $3.3 million in pandemic relief and recovery grants. The funds will provide much-needed support to “legacy-level” events (those that have taken place for five or more years), festivals, civic and holiday celebrations, cultural and heritage events, music festivals, and street and arts fairs in communities with populations of 100,000 or less.

Grants can be used to restart local festivals and events suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic or to stabilize depleted budgets. Recipients can use the funds for deposits on infrastructure (security, temporary fencing, staging, lights, sound equipment, etc.) and staff and labor costs. Grants ranged from $178 to $35,000 and were based on need and demonstrated losses. The program was made possible through a tourism relief grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The goals of the program are to increase business revenues in affected communities, preserve the vibrancy, diversity and growth of events that celebrate the area’s arts, history and culture and provide opportunities for entertainers, artisans and craftspeople who depend on these events for their income.

“Festivals and events are important to a community’s sense of place. They bring residents together and visitors from out of town,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Many of these celebrations also support other causes, from local food banks to college scholarship programs. They are an essential part of Commerce’s mission of strengthening communities and growing Washington’s economy.”

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