Arts Commission Budget Comments

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The Seattle Arts Commission has submitted its comments regarding the Office of Arts & Culture’s (OAC) 2014 proposed budget.

In 2010, I sponsored legislation requiring the Commission to  report their budget priorities to the Council and to the OAC Director before the Director submits their budget request to the Mayor. The Commission is also to provide the Council their comments on the Mayor’s final proposed budget within two weeks of it being presented publically.

The Council’s intent is to ensure it is hearing from OAC’s citizen advisory group when deliberating over the Mayor’s proposed budget.

OAC’s budget, unlike most City departments, is dependent upon admission tax receipts, which can rise or fall depending upon the economy. Admission taxes are generated by a 5% surcharge on ticket sales to movies, music concerts, some sporting events and to attractions like the Big Wheel and Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center.

Admission tax revenue has increased lately, in part, due to the success of the Big Wheel and Chihuly Garden and Glass.

a-look-at-the-budgetOAC’s current proposed budget for 2014 is approximately $8.4 million, reflecting a 15.3% increase over what was anticipated last year for 2014 – about $1.1 million. In response, OAC proposes some new and expanded programs, such as the Creative Advantage program offering arts and music education in schools, cultural facilities funding, historic theater improvements, a temporary transition leader for the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI), and increased staff to support new and expanded programming.

Outside OAC’s admission tax budget lies the City’s Percent for Art program, which allocates 1% of City construction project budgets for the inclusion of art into the project. Its spending is expected to increase about $500,000 next year.

Even with this increase, the Commission’s comments point out that there are areas with growing demand for funding which will see no increase. Three of those areas are capital facilties funding, Arts Means Business, which was a one-time program that in 2012 funded jobs in the arts, and funding for small organizations and individuals, such as their smART ventures program, which encourages innovation and widens cultural participation, particularly by individuals, organizations and communities that may not qualify for other funding programs.

As I work with my colleagues in reviewing OAC’s 2014 proposed budget, I will encourage them to keep the Commission’s comments in mind.

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