Updated September 10, 2020

A Seattle Artists Relief Fund Update &

Final Call to Action from Ijeoma Oluo

Six months ago yesterday, Ebony Arunga, Gabriel Teodros, and I created a little fundraiser to help our community – Seattle area artists – get through the massive event and venue shutdowns in the growing COVID pandemic. On March 9th we launched the Seattle Artists Relief Fund.

We wanted to help a few people get through a few weeks of hardship. We created a simple application for people to fill out for assistance. We set our fundraising goal at $20k. Within a week we had raised over $100k – far more than we had imagined. But we also received many more applications than we had imagined. We were quickly in over our heads.

Luckily, the LANGSTON team came to our rescue and offered to administer this fund for us. Together, we found a way to get funds directly to Seattle area artists–faster and with fewer barriers to access than almost any other public or philanthropic relief effort.


SARF is the largest source of direct COVID relief funds to artists in Washington State to date. What was supposed to be a few weeks of emergency funding has now been six months of work building and sustaining a grassroots mutual aid effort that has inspired a number of similar efforts across the country. The generosity of our community–and the scale of the impact of this crisis–were so much larger than we ever could have imagined. 

Three Black artists and one Black organization, with the generous support of thousands of individual donors, have now been able to send almost $1 million dollars in funds to over 2,000 artists in the Seattle arts community. The entire Seattle community has stepped forward to support Seattle artists, and we are forever grateful for this show of love. 

It is now time for us to transition away from this fund. We recognize that our little emergency fund will need to give way to something much more substantial as this emergency stretches on in the coming months. LANGSTON will be spending the next couple of months learning from this project and developing a new mission-aligned program to support local Black artists that we hope can be replicated by other groups to the benefit of all. We will all continue to press for long-term support of Seattle area artists – especially BIPOC artists who are often marginalized even in relief efforts.

We have made a commitment to everyone who has applied for assistance and we want to be able to send funds to everyone. For that, we need your help.

We are putting out one final push for donations to make sure that we can fund every applicant. We need to raise roughly $175,000 in the next few weeks to get assistance out to the remaining folks on our waiting list. We know we can do this with your help.

As a token of our gratitude we’ll be giving away 5 gift bags–with a signed copy of So You Want To Talk About Race, accessories from Seaweed International, and a signed CD from Gabriel Teodros–to randomly selected folks who give between now and September 30th. 

Donations in any amount are truly appreciated and can be made by following the button below. Please specify “Seattle Artists Relief Fund” or “SARF” in the note.

Any funds remaining after we’ve reached our goal will be set aside for future artist support grants from LANGSTON.


Thank you for your continued support of Seattle artists. Let’s end this fundraiser on a high note. 


With love,

Ijeoma Oluo

Update–April 15, 2020

As of March 26, 2020, applications have been temporarily suspended in order to secure funding for the applications we have received and those we hope to be able to help in the future.

So far, we have received nearly 1,800 applications and have dispersed almost $500,000 directly to Seattle area artists. In order to continue to send out much needed-assistance to artists, WE NEED TO RAISE AN ADDITIONAL $700,000. This will meet the current calculated disbursements for the artists who have applied, and will allow us to reopen for more applications. Our goal is to be able to support artists until a more comprehensive, longer-term form of assistance is made available.

Please share and give what you can, the more people we have looking at this fundraiser, the better chance we have to meet our goals!


Seattle has so far been the city hardest hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus. This scary and tragic  time has a lot of people staying close to home in order to try to help prevent the spread of this virus that can be devastating to our elderly, disabled, and medically compromised friends and neighbors.

The widespread cancellation of group events has had a disproportionate impact on the Seattle arts community – especially those who rely on gigs to pay their bills. Creatives are people whose very existence relies on what they create and people being able to access their work. Musicians, DJ’s, independent chefs, caterers, actors, directors, writers, spoken word artists, teaching artists, all of these peoples jobs rely on people showing up for events but events are being canceled.

This fund is aimed at helping those in the greater Seattle arts community who have been financially impacted by cancellations due to COVID-19. Depending on funding levels and amount of requests, priority may given to artists from communities that have been historically and systemically economically disadvanted in the Seattle Area: BIPOC artists, transgender & nonbinary artists, and disabled artists – but we will try to help as many artists with need in Seattle as we can as long as we have funds and are not currently turning away any Seattle Area artists who meet the simple criteria (living in the Seattle area, have gig/event/work cancellation in the arts, have fully completed the application). We will basically keep going until we run out of money or this crisis ends – whichever comes sooner.
100% of these funds will go to artists who have lost income due to cancellations and work stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is emergency funding to help artists in need with rent, food, utilities, and medical needs. The amount given to each artist is determined based on how many funds we receive, how much artists have lost due to cancellations, and how many artists apply. We use these factors to calculate what percentage of each individual request we can pay each artist. We are currently giving a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $1000 to each individual artist.

Additional COVID-19 Resources for Artists