Seattle Arts Commission Budget Priorities

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On Friday, the Seattle Arts Commission (SAC) deliverd to the Council its response to the Mayor’s Proposed 2015-2016 Budget for the Office of Arts and Culture (Arts Office).

Back in 2010, I sponsored Ordinance 123460, which directs SAC to report its budget priorities to the Council.Seattle_SeattleArtsCommission-first-logo

The Seattle Arts Commission has prioritized increasing racial equity in Seattle.  It has partnered with the Office for Civil Rights, Seattle Public Schools, and other entities focused on this issue.  SAC has already developed tools, and will continue to do so, in order to help their office view all of its priorities through a racial equity and social justice lens. The Arts Office’s proposed 2015-2016 budget reflects that.

SAC requested that the Arts Office receive budget authorization to use any unreserved fund balance for the Arts Office in 2015-2016 to strengthen and further the Office’s equity work.

All of the Arts Office’s main funding programs have goals aligned with advancing racial equity: the Creative Advantage, an arts education program; Cultural Space; Cultural Partnerships; and Public Art.

Increasing that budget authority would allow the Arts Office to direct more resources towards artists and organizations that have been historically underrepresented.  Additionally, the Cultural Space program is not funded at a level to make a significant impact on the critical need for preserving current and creating future arts space, an area where greater capital dollars could create big impacts relatively quickly.

SAC also encourages the Council to consider increased funding for their equity work by allocating 100% of admission tax receipts to the Arts Office. It currently receives 75%.  SAC’s report states that “An increase in the admission tax percentage will ensure effective delivery of the full spectrum of (Arts Office) funding programs and will support the direction we are taking to achieve the greatest possible level of equity in the arts.”

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