An initiative announced by Executive Constantine will dramatically increase equity and access for kids and families to experience local art, science and culture heritage throughout King County, with a particular focus on underserved populations.
Courtesy Seattle Opera
King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced an initiative for the August ballot that will make it possible for all residents to experience the region’s rich art, science and heritage offerings.
Access for All will dramatically increase funding for arts, science and heritage institutions to provide in-class learning experiences in every county school district, along with providing students with transportation and free tickets. It will also allow more arts, science and heritage organizations to offer free admission and membership to families and seniors who earn a lower income.
“King County is home to some of the nation’s preeminent arts, scientific and heritage organizations. Access for All provides all people of all incomes – young and old, rural and urban – with more opportunities to learn and be inspired,” said Executive Constantine. “By throwing open the doors to all the region has to offer, we ignite more creativity, create more shared experiences, and build a stronger community.”
Benefits will not be isolated to Seattle — Access for All would provide proportionally more new funding for more than 300 smaller community organizations throughout the county.
It will be managed by 4Culture, King County’s Cultural Development Authority with a 40-year track record of creating and managing local cultural funding and service programs to benefit residents and tourists. The program will be funded by a 0.1 percent increase in the county sales tax, which would be 1 cent for every $10 spent. It will generate an estimated $67 million each year over the next seven years.
Executive Constantine proposed the initiative in an ordinance he sent today to the King County Council to put Access for All on the August ballot.
"Art and culture bring communities together and deepen our ties to one another," said Joe McDermott, Chair of the King County Council. "Expanding access for all King County residents to experience grand productions, cross-cultural performances, local theatre and engaging scientific adventures will be an important collective effort to reinforce King County as a thriving, welcoming, diverse and affirming community for all residents."
Opening doors for students, families and seniors to experience local art, science and cultural heritage
Access for All will increase the capacity of community-based organizations so they can connect even more children, youth and families to art, science and cultural programs and venues. The funding will focus on four primary areas:
- Education for Kids: Students at all 19 King County school districts will see a dramatic increase in free access to curriculum-related art, science and heritages programs, both in-class and at cultural sites, with an emphasis on underserved students. Twenty percent of Access for All funding will ensure access for public school students, including transportation for students and in-class programming.
- Equity and Inclusion: Recognizing that philanthropic funding for arts, heritage and science has historically been distributed inequitably, Access for All will intentionally provide higher levels of funding to community-based organizations that serve communities of opportunity. An Equity Advisory Committee will be established to evaluate progress toward achieving equity goals and outcomes.
- Opening Doors for All: Families and seniors who earn a lower income will receive free or low-cost admission to nearly 40 major arts, science and heritage organizations, including Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Flight and others. Everyone in King County will have the opportunity to experience diverse performances and programs.
- Investing in Local Communities: Cultural organizations such as heritage museums, organizations that serves communities that are underserved, botanical gardens, children theaters and music training programs, and local art and science groups throughout King County will be able to use the additional funding to meet their specific programming needs and provide enhanced cultural activities.
Funds will be collected by King County and awarded by 4Culture through public panels and contracts for service that call for each recipient to provide continual, measurable public benefits. Every organization that receives public funding through Access for All will provide ongoing documentation of program benchmarks, visitors serviced, and community impact. Their reports, site visits, audits, and program evaluations will be available to the public.
King County is home to some of the nation’s preeminent arts, scientific and heritage organizations. Access for All provides all people of all incomes – young and old, rural and urban – with more opportunities to learn and be inspired. By throwing open the doors to all the region has to offer, we ignite more creativity, create more shared experiences, and build a stronger community.
Art and culture bring communities together and deepen our ties to one another. Expanding access for all King County residents to experience grand productions, cross-cultural performances, local theatre and engaging scientific adventures will be an important collective effort to reinforce King County as a thriving, welcoming, diverse and affirming community for all residents.
We know that access to arts, heritage and science programs improve success rates for kids in school and enriches the entire community. I am excited to work on this proposal, which has been many years in the making.
Access to the arts has been shown to improve academic performance, creativity, focus and decision-making skills in children. Unfortunately, arts funding has been severely cut in our schools, which is one reason this initiative is so important. Access for All will provide equitable access to our region's arts, science and cultural heritage organizations for kids, families and seniors throughout King County. Everyone should have the opportunity to benefit from the rich cultural resources available in our region.
Given that equity and access are pillars that undergird our work in the Renton School District, I’m particularly excited about the public school cultural access program, which will open doors for many of our students. Having attended schools as well as serving as a teacher, principal, and district administrator in Renton, I have witnessed firsthand how some students have very little access to the cultural experiences that many of us may take for granted. These experiences can broaden students’ minds, open up their worldviews, and set them on a path to better engagement and success in school.
Path with Art is an arts organization that provides opportunities to transform the lives of adults recovering from homelessness, addiction, and other trauma by harnessing the power of creative engagement as a bridge to community and a path to stability. Art and cultural experiences have a tremendously stabilizing effect on individuals who may otherwise not have such opportunities; brain science proves this time and again. Access for All will generate funding that will allow us to continue providing equitable access to the arts and opportunities for creative expression to the most vulnerable among us.
Cultural Access Washington funds will dramatically increase the reach and benefits of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Community Outreach program. Currently serving over 23,000 King County students and educators each year, PNB Community Outreach has a waitlist of many more teachers and classrooms who wish to participate in our Discover Dance program. Funding from Cultural Access Washington would allow us to meet this demand for high-quality, standards-based dance education by increasing Discover Dance residencies, as well as offering our programs to self-contained special education classrooms. Cultural Access funds would also reduce and remove barriers to access by providing more classrooms with free transportation to fieldtrips and student matinees, as well as providing low-income schools with an even greater number of free tickets and enrichment activities associated with PNB performances.
The Young Playwrights Program at ACT Theatre is great because it gives my kids practice and confidence in writing. Some students are already confident, capable writers, and they benefit from tackling the process of plotting and writing a ten-page play. Others are not yet so capable or confident. One student’s father emailed me to say that his son had never written papers for English class before — ever. Papers were assigned, but he did not write them. This year, we broke that block with YPP. As an English teacher, all that I can say about that is FANTASTIC!
KidsQuest Children’s Museum is a hands on interactive museum that inspires learning through the power of play. Cultural Access for All will help further KidsQuest Children’s Museum's mission by expanding access to diverse audiences, which in turn creates enriched individual experiences between visitors and the community.
Our programs and performances reach more than 200,000 people each year including over 20,000 loyal season subscribers to our Mainstage. In addition, our Youth Education Programs serve more than 60,000 young people and their families each year. This is just one of many programs we provide to enable equitable access, which requires financial resources, and why King County’s Cultural Access Program funding that the Council is now considering is so important.
We fervently believe that arts and culture are a deterrent to many societal challenges that require comprehensive public solutions. If we invest in the positive, we can minimize or reduce the negative. In this spirit, the Federal Way Arts Commission formally endorses Access for All.
Today, artEAST brings free exhibitions and community artmaking events, a place to sell art, and a robust youth and adult arts education program to life. To further reach underserved residents of King County who have barriers to access, we provide free community art-making events that invite people of every income level to participate at no cost. This program and others we provide to enable equitable access require financial resources. This is why King County’s Access for All Program funding that the Council is now considering is so important.
The Renton History Museum’s mission is to document, preserve, and educate about local history in ways that engage diverse people of all ages. Our exhibits, programs, and curricula help the Museum serve as a dynamic space for dialogue around issues past, present, and future, and our historic collections provide facts and research that inform those discussions. Access for All will help us reach new audiences with these programs, so that we can better serve our community in ways only museums can.
The passage of Access for All would have a huge impact on artists and arts communities in Washington State. Increased support for arts organizations in King County would create opportunities for artists from all backgrounds and all disciplines, bolstering our sector’s sustainability and making our region a more viable creative and professional home for all artists. With funding from Access for All initiatives, Artist Trust would be able to deepen our commitment to artists through direct financial support and professional development trainings and resources. Access for All represents not only an influx of funding for all of our communities but a public commitment to the value of arts and heritage in our region.
The Seattle Aquarium is the largest platform for marine conservation education in the State of Washington. We currently reach almost one million people each year -- including over 60,000 students and others from underserved communities who we welcome free or at reduced rates. But even with this strong impact, there are large numbers of King County residents, especially families with young children, who we are unable to reach because neither our resources nor theirs are sufficient. Access for All will help us to much more fully bring our Mission to citizens of all ages and geographic locations in King County.
King County continues to thrive but cannot leave families behind, particularly in access to the arts, science and heritage. Access for All will level the playing field and allow organizations like the zoo to help even more people experience animals and nature. We are strong supporters of this initiative. It provides greater equity and access for all, it is good for the zoo and for hundreds of nonprofit community organizations around King County and good for all of those who too frequently miss out on these enriching experiences.
Beyond producing astonishing art on stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre is committed to engaging with all residents of King County and increasing our impact by putting the community at the very heart of our theatre and art. In the coming year, we will provide nearly 200 free, ongoing theatre skill-building workshops for approximately 150 participants from five local nonprofits that serve diverse communities, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, Centerstone, Jubilee Women’s Center, Path With Art, and Sound Generations. Equitable access to Seattle Rep’s stage productions and young and community programming requires strong support from public and private donors, and both continues the existence of these programs and any plans for future growth are constrained by budget realities. This is why Seattle Rep supports the Access for All legislation now under consideration by the Council.
For more information, contact:
Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250