New Funding for Arts Businesses

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I’m pleased to report that the Council’s Budget Committee voted this afternoon to support my request to include $150,000 in new funding for the Arts Mean Business program to be managed by the City’s Office of Arts & Culture (OAC). I thank Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin, Bruce Harrell and Mike  O’Brien for having signed on to my request, which passed unanimously this afternoon.

I wrote about adding this funding previously, on October 28th. You can learn more about the program by reading that blog.

This investment was recommended to the City Council by the Seattle Arts Commission, which each year provides the Council its comments on the Mayor’s proposed budget.

It is intended to provide funding for 10 to 15 nonprofit arts organizations in Seattle, including those that serve communities of color and economically disadvantaged populations.

art businessThe primary purpose of these awards is to fund one-time salary or contracted staff positions considered essential to the selected organizations’ implementation of so-called ‘sustainable revenue strategies.’  No funding for Arts Mean Business was included in either the 2013 or 2014 proposed budgets from the Mayor.

Also,  I requested that OAC report to the City Council committee next year overseeing the arts office the following information regarding the program’s performance, once recipient organizations have been identified:

1) A description of each nonprofit organization selected to receive a 2014 Arts Means Business grant;

2) A summary of what each grant will fund; and

3) Information about how the staff, board and/or mission of the selected organizations serve communities of color and/or economically disadvantaged populations.


The 2012 Adopted Budget for OACA included $250,000 in Admission Tax revenues that provided initial funding for Arts Mean Business.  OAC then used those resources to provide 20 local arts nonprofits (out of an applicant pool of 111) with one-time support for staff positions that were anticipated to provide the organizations with the capacity to develop and implement more sustainable business practices.

Grant awards to the selected nonprofits ranged from $2,000 to $25,000.  Although final reports on grant outcomes are not due until the end of the year, early data provided to OAC suggests several of the participating organizations have been able to successfully leverage their Arts Mean Business awards to fund a variety of new staff positions that have helped to enhance their fundraising, marketing, and fee-for-service program activities.

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