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County Council unanimously supports funding mechanism for cultural programs


Adopts motion calling on state Legislature to allow creation of cultural access funds


King County’s quality of life is bolstered by the numerous arts, heritage and science programs throughout the region. The Metropolitan King County Council Council today acknowledged the importance of these organizations by giving its unanimous support on a motion calling on the Washington state Legislature to back the creation of cultural access funds to help sustain and increase access to the arts.

Cultural access funds are publicly funded programs established to expand access to cultural organizations. Several examples of how the funds could be used include supporting reduced or free admissions to arts, heritage and science organizations; creation of new or expanded programming for families and individuals; and funding transportation for public school students to attend or participate in cultural organizations. Cultural access funds have been implemented in several states, including Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

“This initiative allows Washington's 39 counties, as they see fit, to enhance livability, economic development and social justice through investment in the arts,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague, the prime sponsor of the motion.

“King County is known nationally for having a vibrant arts and cultural sector that generates significant economic activity, provides a high quality of life for residents, inspires learning opportunities for youth, and attracts tourists,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips, a co-sponsor of the motion. “I urge the state legislature to create a cultural access fund that will help sustain and increase access to the arts in King County and across Washington.”

“The proposed legislation has the ability to improve access to the arts for Washington residents,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott. I’m particularly excited that the creation of an access fund would help our young people see operas, ballets, theater productions and art shows—and make them lifelong patrons of the arts of all types in our region.”

As stated in King County’s 2014 State Legislative Agenda, fostering a vibrant arts community is a “critical asset” for both County residents and visitors. The state Legislature is still considering a bill that would allow counties to establish cultural access programs with the potential to raise substantial funds for arts, heritage and science organizations.

“Cultural access funds are important to all, but especially those whose economic resources might limit their access to the vibrant cultural array of resources in King County,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett.

“As a member of the 4Culture Board and having visited many art projects throughout the county, I’ve seen first-hand the vibrancy of the arts in King County,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. I’m hopeful the Legislature will act on this measure, which gives the residents of King County the option of continuing and expanding their support of the arts.”

The adopted motion acknowledges the importance of arts, heritage and science organizations and expresses support for passage of state legislation that would enable local governments to create cultural access funds. 

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at  and type in 2014-0040

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