Music lovers across Washington State and the country came together in 2020 to support Keep Music Live, a COVID-19 relief fund for small, independently-owned venues across Washington State​. Music venues in Washington State were among the first businesses to close due to COVID-19, and they will be the last business to re-open. The Keep Music Live fundraising campaign and relief funds are administered through its 501c3 fiscal sponsor, the Whatcom Community Foundation.

Keep Music Live grants are designed to assist small, independently-owned live music venues in Washington State experiencing catastrophic revenue loss due to government-mandated closures, and who have been unable to generate meaningful revenue to replace the cancellation of events, performances, and other related work. This is not a competitive grant, all qualifying venues that apply will receive grant funding.

Keep Music Live is committed to supporting the live music ecosystem and these grants are designed to provide some economic relief. Losing these community gathering spaces and stages for artists would have a devastating effect on the greater music system.

Keep Music Live is grateful to its supporters and donors who have contributed to supporting Washington’s music industry.

To apply for a Keep Music Live relief grant, please complete this grant application.


Funding will be provided to independent venues in Washington State that provide music, comedy, and performing arts, that ​meet the criteria below:

  • Must program original live music, and/or similar performing arts as a primary driver of the business; factors considered in meeting this qualification include, but are not limited to:
    • Have a defined performance and audience space.
    • Provide mixing, sound, and lighting systems.
    • Use of sound engineer, booker, promoter, stage manager, security personnel, and/or box office manager.
    • Have a paid ticket or cover charge to attend a majority of performances.
    • Promote performances through advertising and listings in printed and/or electronic publications, websites, email blasts and/or social media.
  • Venue ticketed capacity is 1,000 or less.
  • Operating businesses as grant applicants may rent or own their physical venue.
  • Operating businesses may be corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, individual sole proprietorships, or nonprofits.
  • May not be owned (in whole or in part), managed, or exclusively booked by an organization that has more than one of the following attributes (applicants are disqualified if they meet one or more of the following attributes):
    • “Publicly-traded”.
    • Multinational.
    • Own or manage venues in more than one state.
  • Must have been fully operational prior to ​March 1, 2020.
  • As of March 1, 2020, not be in arrears with owed business and relevant property taxes.

Grant funding is available for approved expenses including:

  • Rent and/or mortgage assistance.
  • Staff retention.
  • Emergency planning/staff training.
  • Additional security personnel.
  • PPE items.
  • COVID-19 venue upgrades, including purchase of other new equipment or software for safety protocols.
  • Insurance premiums.
  • Utilities.
  • Existing loans.
  • Recouping deferred expenses due to cancelled events including artist deposits, ticket refunds, etc.

Note: Documentation demonstrating a venue’s loss or information about how Keep Music Live grant funds will be spent is not required. Keep Music Live recognizes that the small venues we seek to support have been shuttered for nearly one year and have experienced significant financial loss. We wish to provide some relief.

Grant funding may not be used for:

  • Any local, state or federal licenses, taxes or fees.
  • Unrelated real estate.
  • Distributions to partners.
  • Business acquisitions.
  • Private benefit to any individual outside of the approved expense categories listed above.


Applicants must complete all required questions in the grant application and certify all information provided is accurate and true.

All qualifying venues must submit their application between January 19, 2021 and February 2, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST.

Applications must submit a W9 to verify the business.


Systemic racism and patriarchy must be recognized within every sector of American life.

Keep Music Live aspires to direct equitable investments statewide and to create more accessible and inclusive venues onstage, backstage, and in the audience. Priority will be given to BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and woman owned venues, and venues that can demonstrate a commitment to equitable practices.


Applications will be accepted between January 19, 2021 and February 2, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST.

Keep Music Live plans to provide two rounds of COVID-19 grants. The first round of grant awards will be distributed in February 2021. The second round of grant awards will be in Spring 2021, timing dependent on when Keep Music Live has raised sufficient funds to be able provide additional grants.

In order to be considered for either round of grant funds, venues will need to submit a grant application between January 19, 2021 and February 2, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST.