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.
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.
LANGSTON is grateful to be partnering with Ijeoma Oluo, Ebony Arunga, and Gabriel Teodros in support of the Seattle Artists Relief Fund. We will be providing back end financial services to ensure artists will be paid out from the Fund as quickly as possible. We are also acting in a fiscal sponsor-like capacity to the Fund to allow large donations to be received w/o incurring the fees associated with third parties. Our mission is to strengthen and sustain our community through Black arts & culture, and in these challenging times it is a blessing to be able to put our mission into action in partnership with these beautiful Black artists and in support of our entire Seattle cultural community.
Tax Deductible donations can be made directly to LANGSTON, the 501c3 partner organization in a number of ways:
- Via the paypal link on their website: https://www.
- Please specify “Seattle Artists Relief Fund” or “SARF” in the note
- Via Check, with “Seattle Artists Relief Fund” or “SARF” in the memo, mailed to:
- LANGSTONattn: SARF104 17th Ave SSeattle, WA 98144
- Via ACH – Please contact Tim@langstonseattle.
In addition, LANGSTON is on the Benevity platform for corporate match programs. If your company uses a different matching platform, have the match program manager contact LANGSTON’s ED, Tim Lennon, at email@example.com and we’ll get on board there too.
LANGSTON is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, tax ID 81-2515412, and all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
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.
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.