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Cultural Access Measure Fails to Pass

The vote on Proposition 1—”Access for All”—finally went before King County voters on August 1st. It narrowly lost by 2 percentage points, as of the morning of Tuesday, August 8th.

The initial results on August 1st had the initiative’s approval behind by nearly ten points, but by the count on the 8th the gap had narrowed to two, with 49% approved and 51% rejected. This was a significant showing, with fewer than 9,000 votes separating approval and rejection, but unfortunately it was not enough to pass. Had voters approved the measure, it would have raised the county’s sales tax by 0.1%, or one penny on every $10, to support increased access to the hundreds of nonprofit arts, cultural, heritage, and scientific organizations in our region.

With the sales tax now over 10% in the county, we knew this would be a tough campaign and a close race. In the end over 200,000 voters cast their ballot in favor of Prop 1. While this was not enough to institute the access program, it shows the broad support for and belief in the value of our region’s nonprofit arts, cultural, science, and heritage organizations. Further, we believe it shows a hunger for greater access to these institutions and an acknowledgement of the critical benefits they provide.

While ArtsFund is disappointed to see Prop 1 rejected after proudly supporting the effort for more than a decade, we want to recognize everyone who worked on this initiative over the years. We thank King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council for their leadership in supporting the proposition’s ballot placement; the Access for All campaign and Cultural Access Washington, who helped steer the advocacy and organize supporters; and the advocates who worked for more than a decade to place this initiative before voters. We especially thank our ArtsFund family, who were instrumental in getting Prop 1 to the ballot—Dwight Gee, Trustee Sung Yang, former President & CEO Jim Tune, and late former President & CEO Peter Donnelly. Finally, we thank all those who voted Yes on Prop 1.

We were inspired to see those from the arts, science, heritage, education, and other sectors come together behind this cause. As ArtsFund redoubles our commitment to advocating for arts and cultural access across our region, we look forward to partnering with you, our supporters, on this important work.