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Avoiding a $900,000 Loss of Revenue

During the City’s 2011 budget deliberations, I became aware of a potentially devastating revenue loss for the City and its arts office. I immediately asked our staff to work with our Office of Intergovernmental Relations to prevent it.

Fast forward to today, when I testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on Senate Bill 6574, sponsored by Senators Jeanne Kohl-Welles, David Frockt and Adam Kline. If passed by the State Legislature, it will prevent the City from loosing up to $900,000 in admissions tax revenue this year. Admission tax is included in the price of tickets for certain events in Seattle, such as concerts, movies and Husky Football games.

In 2012, Husky football alone is estimated to generate up to $900,000 in admissions tax revenue. However, they are playing at CenturyLink Field this year while their own stadium is being expanded. And State law requires admissions taxes generated at CenturyLink Field to revert to the Public Stadium Authority (PSA), which oversees CenturyLink.

What many people may not realize is that all of the City’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs grants to artists and arts organizations come from the Office receiving 75% of the City’s admissions tax revenue each year.

If SB 6574 were to fail, hundreds of grant awards would be in jeopardy, affecting community festivals, individual artists and arts organizations such as Artist Trust, the 5th Avenue Theatre and Wing Luke Museum along with many more.  

Phinney Neighborhood Association’s 2011 Day of the Dead Festival. Photo by Maria de los Reyes.

 

The PSA and the University of Washington agree that this potential loss of revenue for the City is an unintended consequence of the Husky’s temporary relocation to CenturyLink Field this year. They support the City retaining those funds.

As of this writing I see no opposition to this bill. Still, I urge those of you with an interest in arts funding in Seattle to monitor the bill’s progress by clicking on this link to the Washington State Legislature’s web site.

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