County Council unanimously supports funding mechanism for cultural programs

The Metropolitan King County Council gave unanimous support of arts, heritage and science programs through the region today with a motion that calls on the Washington state Legislature to back the creation of cultural access funds to help sustain and increase access to the arts.

According to a council press release, cultural access funds are publicly funded programs established to expand access to cultural organizations. 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, in the release.

The King County’s 2014 State Legislative Agenda states that 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, the release said.

“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,” councilmember Larry Gossett said in the release.

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