In August, King County voters will have the chance to boost funding for arts, science and heritage education and access.Today the King County Council voted 7-2 to place Access for All on the August 2017 ballot.
"I'm incredibly grateful the county council is sending this important issue to voters," said Manuel Cawaling, executive director of Youth Theatre Northwest on Mercer Island. "One of the things our theatre does is partner with school districts in east King County that don't have drama programs to provide their students with hands-on theatre education. We actually produce plays with these students -- and for many of them it's their only exposure to arts. Access for All will allow us to expand programs like this, because your zip code shouldn't determine whether you have access to arts education."
Access for All would provide funding for more than 350 arts, science and heritage organizations throughout the county to expand education for public school students and increase access to diverse experiences for low-income and middle-class families. Smaller, community-based organizations that serve traditionally under-served communities would be eligible for twice as much funding.
"Tomorrow's scientists, engineers and inventors are in today's classrooms, but the reality is their potential is all-too-often limited by their zip code," said Doug King, president and CEO for the Museum of Flight, one of 35 major regional institutions that would receive funding. "Access for All will allow us to expand programs for students of all age levels on-site and in classrooms throughout the county, as well as launch new initiatives to bring our education to more students who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity."
Half of all the funding that regional organizations like the Museum of Flight would receive is earmarked for expanding public school education and expanding equity in audiences and communities served.
"After months of working with our sponsors on the King County council and other councilmembers, we've reached an equitable proposal that ensures funds will reach communities throughout the county that need it most," said James Kraft, executive director for Cultural Access Washington, the group that has worked on Access for All for more than a decade. "On behalf of more than 350 arts, science and heritage organization throughout King County: thank you to the county council for giving voters the chance to decide."
If approved by voters on August 1, 2017, Access for All would raise the county sales tax by 0.1 percent -- just one penny for every $10 spent, or $30 a year for the average King County family.
"We're looking forward to the next few months of communicating with voters the importance of arts, science and heritage education for all King County students," said Jack Sorensen, campaign manager for Access for All. "We're confident that voters will support this well-crafted proposal to ensure that every student and family has the same access to diverse educational experiences."