WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Over the last decade, funding for arts and cultural programs across Washington has been cut in half. Art and music programs in our public schools were the first to face cuts during the recession, when school budgets decreased, and these programs were never fully restored. And these cuts particularly hurt underserved communities: low-income kids and families, communities of color, seniors, and people with disabilities. Even as our county experiences strong economic growth, there is an increasing gap between those who have opportunities and ability to access art, science, and heritage experiences and those who do not.
WHY SHOULD WE FUND INCREASED ACCESS TO CULTURE NOW INSTEAD OF THINGS LIKE EDUCATION, TRANSPORTATION, AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
All of those are important issues and should be addressed, and are being addressed at either the county, regional, or state level.
Funding cultural access can and should be addressed at the same time. In fact, studies show that by increasing equitable access to arts, science, and heritage experiences for all — particularly underserved kids and families — we can improve educational outcomes, provide inspiration, and create more good-paying jobs, all of which help address the challenges of poverty, inequality, and homelessness. Additionally, by raising only one cent on every $10 spent in King County, Access for All won’t take funding away from other important priorities.
WHY IS CULTURAL ACCESS IMPORTANT?
Our arts, science, and heritage organizations can bring people together, promote healthy dialogue, inspire creativity, and empower people to succeed, at a time when we need to build bridges between communities. National data has also shown that greater access to cultural education improves educational outcomes, particularly for low-income students.
WHAT WOULD ACCESS FOR ALL IN KING COUNTY DO?
Access for All funding helps support programs at arts, science and heritage organizations in our communities, expanding access to arts and music in our public schools and to diverse cultural experiences through- out the county. With an increase in cultural access funding, we will invest in programs that change lives and help our communities thrive.
With Access for All, the regional arts, science, and heritage organizations of King County will commit to:
-Free and low-cost opportunities for everyone in King County to take part in their programs and performances.
-Free and low-cost attendance for King County residents who have economic, geographic and other barriers to access.
-Free access to curriculum-related arts, science and heritage programs in class and at cultural sites for all public school students throughout the county with emphasis on underserved students.
-Performances and programs throughout the County that are created in and for local communities through partnerships between regional and community based cultural organizations, and with other community-based nonprofits.
-The recruitment of diverse staff and governing boards, and an increased investment in programs that represent and reflect the diversity of King County.
HOW IS ACCESS FOR ALL FUNDED? WHAT WOULD IT COST?
Access for All would be funded by a small, 0.1 percent increase in the county sales tax — just one penny on every $10 spent. The average cost for a King County household would be about $3 per month.
Until both the Washington constitution and authorizing legislation are changed, we are limited to the sales tax to raise money for needed programs like Access for All. That said, Access for All is focused on providing greater equity in our society. It is designed to provide more benefits to those who need it the most: low-income families, seniors, communities of color, and public school students throughout the county.
It is important to note that the sales tax does not apply to essentials like food and prescription medicine.
Finally, while the sales tax is paid by all of us, tourists who spend money while visiting King County will also help to fund the program. With Access for All, this number will increase and will help fund the benefits that King County residents will enjoy.
WHO WOULD BENEFIT?
Everyone in King County, but particularly those who are currently underserved due to socioeconomic, geographic, physical, and other barriers to access. Public school students across the County will have a dramatic increase in educational opportunities. Finally, hundreds of regional and community cultural non-profit organizations would receive funding in order to increase access and affordability for kids, seniors, and families throughout King County.
WILL INCREASED FUNDING BENEFIT ALL OF KING COUNTY, OR JUST SEATTLE?
Increasing funding for arts, science, and heritage institutions would benefit all of King County, not just those who live near arts and culture organizations. In fact, a recent Cultural Resource Collective study showed that some of our largest regional organizations — like the Museum of Flight, the Seattle Art Museum, the Woodland Park Zoo and others — serve residents in every part of King County, from Des Moines to Snoqualmie, Shoreline to Auburn, Maple Valley and everywhere in-between. Access for All will allow our regional institutions to continue that commitment by expanding the programs they already offer, as well as expanding their programs into other parts of King County, helping students, low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities have greater access to diverse experiences. It will also directly support local communities by providing funding for smaller, community-based organizations to bring people greater access to arts, science, and heritage in their hometowns.
WOULD PASSING ACCESS FOR ALL HELP OUR ECONOMY?
Yes. Investing in arts, science, and heritage organizations would have a direct return on investment for our local economy. In 2014, patrons of cultural organizations spent $574 million in King County, which supported more than 30,000 jobs. Increasing funding for arts and culture groups would increase the diversity and quality of programs, events and shows these organizations provide, attracting greater participation and boosting our county economy. By investing more in cultural access programs, we can increase equity and participation for King County residents, diversify arts, science, and heritage opportunities and attract more arts tourism — which in turn boosts revenue and creates more good-paying jobs.