No sector is more dramatically affected than the creative sector, especially the parts of it that consist of live events and gatherings. As we occupy this new extended reality, our first step is to support each other in protecting our health and financial stability during this time of enormous change.
In March, Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This economic stimulus package includes a number of strategies for keeping business and employment intact during the crisis, while ensuring funding for individuals throughout the country in the form of a stimulus check and expanded unemployment benefits.Learn more about the whole package of federal stimulus efforts at this helpful CARES Act FAQ for individuals by the New York Times.
Otherwise, maintaining your financial sustainability during this time depends on your situation. You may be trying to keep a business and employees going, or to temporarily shut it down. You may be dealing with a family, or just yourself.
In any case, there are options to explore. Personally, you may end up accessing savings, suspending rent and utilities, applying for unemployment or SBA loans, utilizing mutual aid resources, or some combination. As a business, you may consider lay-offs or temporary closures. Or you may find relief from one or mutliple SBA or other lending programs.
Look below for more details on navigating the resources and options available nationally and locally.
And if you are located in Washington State, consider signing up for a session with an expert from Artists Up, who can help navigate the available resources.
Financial Relief for Individuals and Families
Navigating the challenges of lost work and lost income are challenging for anyone at anytime. But during COVID, it is especially a burden. Fortunately, there are many options. Please visit our other articles about Financial Survival for more information on the following.
Unemployment Insurance benefits aren’t usually an option for those of us that are self-employed. Whether you are applying as a laid-off employee or as a self-employed worker, benefits are currently expanded throughout the country. Here are three articles that may be helpful for you:
Otherwise, picking your path through the pandemic isn’t easy but there are some guideposts. Finding additional funding support is an option for many creatives. You might consider asking for a break or a delay on rent and utilities. There may be options to delay credit card and other debt payments. And you might access food and other basic needs through aid programs. Whatever your route, don’t suffer alone and without support. Reach out for help.
Here are some more detailed articles on these topics:
- Finding Funding for individual creatives
- Sick, Family and Medical Leave
- Housing and Utilities Assistance
- Food and Basic Needs
- Credit Cards and Debt
- SBA Loan Programs
Financial Relief for Businesses
Check out these local resources for up-to-date information on business and organization support:
- State of Washington COVID-19 resource list for impacted Washington businesses and workers
- King County COVID-19 Resources for Business
- City of Seattle Financial Support for Small Business and Nonprofit Organizations Impacted by COVID-19
The programs and resources listed on this page may have shifting timelines and funding availability that may be driven by the volume requests or applications they receive.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans
The CARES Act was passed by Congress in March to provide economic relief to workers and businesses nationwide, including critical funding for Small Business Administration (SBA) programs and enhanced unemployment benefits. For information about unemployment benefits in Washington State, especially the elements for businesses and employers, check out Unemployment for Employers.
Payroll Protection Program (PPP)
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses and non-profit organizations to keep their workers on the payroll. The loan may be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). More information about applying for forgiveness for the PPP is available here.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are SBA emergency relief funds of immediate cash assistance up to $10,000. You can receive these loans and still apply for and receive the PPP loans, but the EIDL will be taken into consideration in the amount forgiven of the PPP.
More About the SBA
For more information about the SBA and the loan programs above, please check out the full article on SBA Loan Programs, and/or visit any of the following:
- US Chamber of Commerce SBA Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist covers PPP and EIDL and provides an overview of the loan amounts and calculations for small business.
- The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act has Q & A on both types of loans.
- Seattle’s Office Economic Development is providing assistance to businesses applying for these loans, including helping them navigate the application process and assemble the required documents. Businesses interested in these services should complete an intake survey and OED staff will reach out within one business day. If a business needs assistance completing the intake they can call OED directly at (206-684-8090).
- Independent Sector fact sheet on the CARES Act: How to Apply for Nonprofit Relief Funds
- SBE Council fact sheet on the CARES Act: What’s in it for Small Businesses, the Self-Employed and Gig Workers
Creative Sector Employer Benefits
- Washington State Benefits for Employers including unemployment.
- Specific Unemployment Q & A for employers from the WA Employment Security Department covering if you can pay the difference between unemployment benefits and employees’ wages, getting help on the phone, filing paperwork, permanent closures and more.
- US CARES Act Unemployment FAQ with specific sector explanations of some of the unemployment expansions including:
- Unemployment compensation support for Nonprofit Organizations that have “reimbursable arrangements” with state unemployment programs (p2)
- Self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy eligibility for unemployment compensation (p2)
- Unemployment benefits for workers in the performing arts and other industries that were about to start new contracts and had them canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak (p3)
- Video: Navigating State Unemployment in a Pandemic: Standby, Partial Work, and Shared Work via the Seattle Chamber of Commerce covers information both for employers and employees. (Note the presentation starts at the 28 min mark).
Bills, Rent, Insurance & Taxes
- Evictions of small business and nonprofit tenants are temporarily halted in Seattle for non-payment of rent or expiration of your lease. This moratorium was extended through March of 2021 as of this week (Dec 15).
- Insurance Information for Businesses in Washington
- Event Cancellation Insurance Information in Washington
- City of Seattle B&O Tax Deferment Information
- Washington State B&O Tax Relief Information
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is allowing corporate taxpayers a deferment of up to $10 million of federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. This guidance does not change the April 15 filing deadline.
Other Relief Funding Grants & Loans
- Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants: Governor Inslee announced the new $5 million program to assist small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses with up to 10 full-time employees (FTEs) may apply for a one-time grant of up to $10,000. Application is through your county/regional economic development organization.
- City of Seattle Small Business Stabilization Fund for grants businesses with less than 5 employees (this fund is currently closed for applications)
- King County Small Business Assistance Program has help for small businesses located in unincorporated King County, including up to $5,000 grants and coaching on loans and other resources.
- Business Impact NW list of COVID-19 financial resources and information on accessing loans including Small Business Administration loans.
- Craft3 provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses in Washington and Oregon, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. They also have a resources page for business.
- Major relief funds for the art organizations and businesses include:
- The 4Culture King County Cultural Relief Fund for organizations and individuals will distribute $1 million over the coming months. Applications are now open to organizations in King County whose primary mission relates to arts, heritage, or preservation. The first round of funding will be distributed beginning April 1 through May 15.
- Seattle Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund: working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak.
- Keep Workers Healthy and Safe: the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce fund provides immediate cash assistance is designed to help employers continue to provide uninterrupted medical insurance for their employees and keep employees safe by offsetting the costs of additional sanitization and safety supplies.
- National Endowment for the Arts to distribute $75 million in relief aid to arts organizations in need. Timing is still TBD.
- City of Seattle’s initial $1.1 Million arts recovery package to support creative workers and arts and cultural organizations. No application was required, and funds have already been allocated. (This fund is now closed).
Other Business Tips
Join the weekly updates through the Seattle Office of Economic Development’s Small Business COVID-19 Impacts Weekly Webinar
- Watch Seattle Office of Arts & Culture webinar for arts and cultural organizations and individual artists to share information and resources
- Keep track of all lost revenue and financial impacts.
- Share economic impact for your sector through one of the industry surveys, listed in the Handbook’s Resources by Industry section.
- Review this information about business and event cancellation insurance and talk with your insurance broker about what information you might need to track. Regardless of currently eligibility, it may be useful to track the information for future aid.
- Advocate for relief through your sector organizations and other organizations like Inspire Washington’s Emergency Relief Funding and Technical Support page.
- Keep your staff and your patrons, customers, and audiences in the loop when you can. The creative community has been heavily impacted. Your knowledge and experience can be a great resource to others as we all work through this challenging time. Sharing information is critical for people to understand their own situation and role in this crisis.
- Artist Trust Resource List: a growing list of resources to support the cultural community and artists, and information about their Relief Fund.
- Northwest Folklife: COVID-19 Artist & Community Resource List: resources for financial assistance, mutual aid and advocacy, and informational support compiled from community efforts
- Washington’s Film Industry & Coronavirus Resource List from Washington Filmworks