Sound & Vision: King County Offers Local Venues $750,000 as Part of Relief Package

Sound and Vision
Emily Fox

The King County Council approved a $60 million emergency funding in response to COVID-19 last week. Music venues have been allocated $750,000 of that money.

Live music venues were some of the first places to close because of COVID-19 and will likely be some of the last to re-open and, until that happens, venue owners are paying rent and other reoccurring costs. Earlier this month, the longtime venue Re-Bar closed its doors in South Lake Union.

“One of the things that's important is to have a rich cultural life and we don't want to fight our way through this pandemic, come out the other side, and find our region has been drained of its cultural vitality,” says King County Executive Dow Constantine, who spoke with Sound & Vision host Emily Fox.

According to Constantine, over 50 music venues in the county have closed, which has led to 16,000 employees laid off and over 2,000 canceled shows. The $750,000 is intended to keep venues alive during closures so they can resume operations whenever shows become feasible again. Constantine cites the importance of smaller spaces in developing a robust arts scene.

“We know that the small venue is critical to the vitality of our music scene here,” says Constantine, “and without those small stages, you can't get people who ultimately become big names. There's no Sonics or Ventures back in the day or Nirvana or Soundgarden or Macklemore, Brandi Carlile — they needed a place to work their craft, to exchange ideas with other artists, to be discovered by a growing fan base. And we think that that is just essential to who we are as a region, as a community, and we're going to do everything we can to protect it.”

Constantine believes this is the first relief program in the country that is focused on private music venues. King County will try to get a fundraiser going to raise more for venues in the future and work with the state and federal government for further relief.

“We’re going to have to reinvest in our community, in our people, in our workers,” says Constantine, “to make the recession, the depression shallower and shorter, and to really use this not just to get back to normal, but to transform our communities into the kinds of places where every single person has a stake and an opportunity to succeed and contribute.”

Besides the $750,000 going to local, independent music venues, another $2 million is going to 4Culture to provide relief funds to art, culture, heritage, and preservation organization in King County and another $250,000 is going towards arts and culture of science organizations that produce education programs.

Listen to a conversation between Emily Fox and King County Executive Dow Constantine Saturday at 7 AM PT on Sound & Vision.

KEXP's Sound & Vision airs every Saturday morning from 7-9 AM PT, featuring interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter. You can also hear more stories in the new Sound & Vision Podcast. New episodes are out every week. Subscribe now.

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