Staying Afloat: Unemployment and Financial Help for Creatives

A list of resources for creatives experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Systems may be overwhelmed and incomplete so far, but the Cities, County, State and Federal Government are all working to provide aid and relief during the crisis.

The newly announced order as of 3/16/20 updates the restrictions on gatherings and events, and closes all venues, clubs, theaters and other places we gather. The measures are serious and are needed to slow the growth of infections and to save lives. They also have a tremendous impact on people in the creative community. As we all move into this new reality, our first phase is to support each other and protect our health and financial stability during an enormous change. 

Here are some resources.

There will be a Seattle Office of Economic Development webinar Wednesday 3/18/20 from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM that will include employer questions on unemployment.

If you’re unemployed to due to the coronavirus, whether from layoff, reduced hours, or the mandatory closures, apply for unemployment benefits which can partially replace your regular earnings. Currently there are options for temporary layoffs where you plan to return to work once they reopen, so talk with your employer as well. 

Washington Employment Security Department
Phone: 800-318-6022 
Apply online: 
Have your Social Security Number ready. 

There are reports of long hold times for the phone, and confusion and questions on filling out the application and what options apply to the new situation and eligibility. If you encounter these or other barriers, do your best and keep trying. It is more important to file the application that may be incorrect or incomplete than to not submit something at all. The information will be verified by your employer. Their office and systems will catch-up with this crisis soon. Set time aside each day to work on the administrative elements of this crisis, but not your whole day.

  • The City of Seattle has put a stop on residential evictions for 30 days including no late fees or other charges for late payment of rent. A similar moratorium on commercial evictions for small businesses and nonprofits is under consideration as well.
  • Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light will keep utility services on and customers can request a deferred payment plan. Check your local city utilities for other places in King County.

King County Public Health Hotline
Open Daily 8AM – 7PM

Please understand that we are all, every one of us, in a fast moving, unprecedented situation. New details on the shape of local, state, and federal aid, including direct support for the people and industries most affected, are emerging every day. But the system is overwhelmed and it may take some time for details to be finalized, for you to be able to connect to these systems and to figure out what support you are eligible for. 

King County Creative is currently pulling together a list of resources for the artistic and cultural community to help protect your health, find support, communicate to your community, support your business or organization, and work toward recovery.

This information, along with plenty more guidelines, resources and tips will be included in a COVID-19 Handbook for Creatives in King County to be published online this week.

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