Keeping summer traditions alive: Commerce, ArtsWA award over $3 million to support, restart community festivals and events
The shows will go on across the state as 200 organizations in 36 counties receive much-needed pandemic relief grants
OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the Washington Festivals and Events Association (WFEA) and ArtsWA, has awarded over $3 million in grants to 200 community events and festivals that either had to suspend operations or restart due to the pandemic. The qualifying grantees reported a total revenue loss of $73.2 million due to COVID-19.
The grants provide much-needed support to “legacy-level” events, festivals, civic and holiday celebrations, cultural and heritage events, music festivals, and street and arts fairs – those that have taken place for five or more years – in communities with populations of 100,000 or less.
“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 Mike Fong. “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.”
Grants could be used to restart local festivals and events suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic or to stabilize depleted budgets. Eligible grant uses included deposits on infrastructure (security, temporary fencing, staging, lights, sound equipment, etc.) and staff and labor costs. Grants ranged from $46 to $35,000 based on need and demonstrated financial losses. The program was made possible through a $10.6 million tourism relief grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Funding goals included increasing business revenues in affected communities, preserving the vibrancy, diversity and growth of events celebrating the area’s arts, history and culture and providing opportunities for entertainers, artisans and craftspeople who depend on these events for their income.
“The grant we received ensured that Tumwater could continue to provide a high-quality event for our local residents while promoting tourism and businesses from all over Washington state,” said Chuck Denney, Parks & Recreation Director for the City of Tumwater. “Our losses through the pandemic had a significant impact on our overall budget and options for future festivals. The grant has allowed us to return to normal operations and work toward making 2023 our best event ever.”