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Monday, April 4, 2011

Current Status on 4Culture and State Bills

An Update on the Future of 4Culture

The activist group Advocate4Culture has been working tirelessly to preserve funding sources for the
4Culture Agency.  The 4Culture group funds cultural and historic projects and agencies in our region.

(Locally, 4Culture has brought many grant dollars to our local agencies. The Shoreline Historical Museum, Shoreline/Lake Forest Park Arts Council and our schools have all received funding from 4Culture)

The groups and individuals they help provide an enormous amount of economic value for our region.
A recent study published by the University of Washington showed that cultural and historic assets and providers here help create over 30,000 jobs in the Puget Sound Region. That is real value!

King County Executive Dow Constantine had also worked hard to promote somes bills in Olympia that would provide financial support for our cultural heritage projects by continuing the Lodging Tax (left over from the King Dome) and some other proposals that would bring new venues to the region
(expansion of the Convention Center).  SHB 1997 and SB 5834

In Olympia last week, the issue came before the House and Senate. Several bills to save 4Culture and promote tourism came very close to passage, but were stopped in committee. But, there is still some hope according to the group Advocate4Culture.

An update on the 4Culture blog from Director Jim Kelly says the following:
There’s an old saying in Olympia that “nothing is dead until the legislature adjourns.”  There are three weeks left until the end of the regular session in Olympia. Over the last few days, we’ve heard renewed support from King County leadership and members of the legislature to work to find a solution to pass legislation that would continue arts and heritage funding through 4Culture. Many understand the impact of our industry on economic development in King County, which will benefit the entire state.
My message to 4Culture constituents is don’t lose heart.  As Yogi Berra said “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
So, it looks like some other ideas are still being worked by the Advocates. Here's hoping there are some really good heads there to find solutions. There is just too much at stake in King County to give up.

Here's the story from the Advocate4Culture Blog.

Historic Street Clock in Pioneer Square



The Washington State Legislature civics lesson continues

Yesterday was the cutoff date for the House and Senate to agree to move bills out of committee.

The House Ways & Means Committee did not act yesterday on Substitute Senate Bill 5834 (SSB 5834) that would have permitted King County to continue directing an existing portion of local lodging taxes to programs for arts and heritage via 4Culture.  So SSB 5834 died yesterday in committee.

The Senate Ways & Means Committee voted by roll call yesterday on Substitute House Bill 1997 (SHB 1997) that would have provided economic development in King County by funding tourism promotion, workforce housing, art and heritage programs (via 4Culture) and community development. With 22 committee members, a bill must receive 12 yes signatures to pass the committee. SHB 1997 received 11 yes signatures and 9 no signatures yesterday. Two committee members, Senators Hatfield and Tom, were absent. Without the necessary 12 signatures, SHB 1997 died yesterday in committee.

SSB 5834 and SHB 1997 are not the only avenues for working with the Legislature to secure the future of 4Culture funding. State and County elected officials are already working with 4Culture staff, board and champions to determine the next best steps. While these bills may have "died" in committee yesterday, there are scenarios where they could be resurrected, and their provisions are still very much alive, including future funding for 4Culture.

While it is frustrating to have come so close to getting SHB 1997 out of committee, the advocacy actions by King County's cultural community have not been in vain. It is unlikely the bill would have even had a chance to pass the committee without our advocacy. Legislators and their staffs have stated on multiple occasions that the timely, strategic and high-volume actions of the arts and heritage community. No one in Olympia is questioning the commitment and political will of our community to ensure 4Culture's future.

Thank you for everything you have done to act on that commitment, and for being ready and willing to do it again as soon as next steps are clear.

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