King County Executive Dow Constantine signed legislation to enact "Building for Culture," the largest one-time investment King County has made to build new cultural facilities, as well as expand, preserve, and improve existing ones. More than 100 arts and cultural organizations will share $28 million in capital improvement grant funds financed by bonds backed by a portion of the County's hotel/motel tax revenues.
"I proposed 'Building for Culture' to leverage lodging taxes paid by visitors, and reinvest them in the bricks and mortar of museums, theaters, and heritage sites so we can continue to attract more visitors and locals alike," said Executive Constantine. "What's special is the depth and breadth of these investments—youth and ethnic heritage centers; the historic theaters of downtown Seattle and new cultural destinations countywide; and landmarks and treasured historic buildings."
"A vibrant arts and cultural community is a hallmark of King County, something we are well known for nationally. The arts generate significant economic activity, provide a high quality of life for residents, inspire learning opportunities for youth, and attracts tourists," said Council Chair Larry Phillips. "Through support of our arts and heritage organizations, we recognize the important role that these cultural experiences have in strengthening communities and developing young minds."
Building for Culture is a one-time expansion of 4Culture's annual facilities grant program, and will go to build new cultural facilities as well as expand, preserve and improve existing ones, as well as protecting landmarks and historic places. The $28.4 million in grants are financed by bonds backed by a portion of the County's lodging tax paid by visitors.
During the last recession, major upgrades or replacement of the region's arts and heritage infrastructure were put on hold as organizations focused on meeting operating costs.
Building for Culture is unique in its depth and breadth of financial support:
- Investing for Youth: $1,631,500
Providing the resources needed to develop the audiences, performers and arts enthusiasts for future generations: Bellevue Youth Theatre, Coyote Central, Evergreen City Ballet, KidsQuest Children's Museum, Music Works Northwest, Pacific Northwest Ballet Bellevue School, and Seattle Children's Theatre.
- Investing in New Cultural Destinations: $8,697,500
Completion of longstanding building projects to provide performance and community spaces, as well as spaces for expanded education programming and new interpretive parks: Burke Museum, Center for Wooden Boats, Duvall Foundation for the Arts, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, Freehold Theatre Lab Studio, Holocaust Center for Humanity, Jimi Hendrix Park, KidsQuest Children's Museum, Friends of KEXP, Mini-Mart City Park, Museum of Flight Aviation Pavilion, Nordic Heritage Museum, Northwest Railway Museum Education Center, Performing Arts Center Eastside, Shoreline Historical Museum, Vashon Allied Arts Center for the Arts, and Washington State Jewish Historical Society.
- Investing in South King County: $4,673,844
Funding for new infrastructure in a region that has traditionally had less access to resources: Auburn Masonic Temple, Auburn Arts Center, Carco Theatre, Covenant Beach Lodge in Des Moines, Duwamish Hill in Tukwila, Enumclaw Expo and Event Center, Evergreen City Ballet, Highline Historical Society, Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center, Moshier Arts Center in Burien, Museum of Flight, Renton Historical Society, Sea Mar Museum of Latino History and Cultural Center, and White River Valley Museum.
- Investing in Historic Theatres: $3,006,137
Replacing failing heating and cooling systems, revamping elevators that no longer work, and restoring historic features of heavily-used community spaces: The Fifth Avenue Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), On the Boards, The Paramount Theater, Seattle Children's Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theater, Town Hall Seattle, and Washington Hall.
- Saving Landmarks: $2,000,000
34 projects dedicated to the rehabilitation or acquisition of landmark properties. Highlights include seismic retrofits and repairs to unreinforced masonry buildings in Seattle's International District; rehab of suburban Community Halls that serve as gathering places in Shoreline, Kenmore, Skykomish, and Tukwila; and substantial safety repairs at the Georgetown Steam Plant, a nationally-significant industrial landmark.
"Building for Culture is a game changer. It will make possible the completion of new cultural destinations throughout the County, beginning or accelerating construction for projects that have been in the planning stages for many years," said Alka Badshah, President of the 4Culture Board of Directors.
All proposals were reviewed by peer panels that made funding recommendations based on the quality, feasibility, and impact of the project. Panel recommendations were approved by the 4Culture Board and the King County Council.