Act Now for Arts Access

King County culture lovers: contact your county council member this week. The nine legislators are reviewing an initiative that would revolutionize our cultural landscape. The “Access for All” measure being reviewed for placement on the August ballot would ask voters to approve a 0.1% sales tax increase—one penny on every ten dollars—to provide increased public access to the county’s hundreds of nonprofit arts, science, and heritage organizations.

Based on similar programs in Colorado and St. Louis, if approved the initiative is estimated to raise nearly $70 million per year for arts, science, and heritage institutions across King County. With the funding, organizations would increase access in a number of ways. Public school students in all 19 King County school districts would go on more field trips at no cost and see increased in-school programs. These cultural and science organizations would also expand community programs and offer more free and reduced-price tickets to people of all ages, with a focus on low-income families, communities of color, and seniors. Additionally, funds would go toward festivals and developing cultural spaces, as well as underwriting Americans with Disabilities Act projects.

Access for All will help remove barriers so everyone in King County is able to experience the region’s abundant cultural opportunities. ArtsFund played a central role in advancing this initiative with Cultural Access Washington, the advocacy group that has spent more than a decade trying to make this idea a reality. Since the idea of a cultural taxing district first took root in the early 2000s, ArtsFund was a key player in working to advance the legislation allowing the creation of cultural access districts. If passed it would be a large step toward realizing ArtsFund’s vision of “A community with a dynamic and world-class arts and cultural sector where the arts are accessible to all and valued as central and critical to a healthy society.” It will help close the achievement gap in our schools, provide more equitable access to opportunities out of reach to too many, and strengthen our community.

The legislation has been introduced to the King County Council for approval for the August ballot. Council members are reviewing the proposed initiative and April 17th will be the last day for the council to approve the ballot placement with a simple vote. If it the council members do not approve, it will not be on the ballot—meaning now is the time to voice support. Outreach to council districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 will be crucial for the measure to pass, and you can find your district here. Visit the Contact Your Council Member page on the Access for All site to voice your support. For updates on the initiative, follow Cultural Access Washington on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CulturalAccessWA.