Message from the Director: $1 million added to 2008 budget

We have much to be thankful for this season. On Nov. 19, the Seattle City Council approved the city's 2008 budget, which adds more than $1 million to the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs' budget as proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels. We will stretch the dollars to fund new investments in arts education, history and cultural heritage and cultural facilities, and boost awards to arts, cultural and community organizations.

Public investment in the arts improves quality of life by supporting cultural institutions and initiatives that provide services essential to Seattle's creative vitality. We know investing in the arts results in big returns. Arts and culture add one-third of a billion dollars a year to Seattle's economy. That's a lot of economic activity.

We're not the only city department to receive dollars earmarked for arts and culture. The parks budget includes $2.7 million to renovate the west wing of Building 30 at Warren G. Magnuson Park to create a 28,000-square-foot multi-arts facility, including studios (30 to 40 spaces for visual and performing artists), exhibition and office space for artists and arts and cultural organizations. The city-owned building was part of the former Sand Point Naval Air Station. KUOW's Marcie Sillman reported on the project earlier this month.

The $1 million add for our agency amounts to a 17-percent increase in the Office's 2007 budget of $6.5 million. When the mayor proposed his budget earlier this fall, we outlined his proposed investments in this newsletter. Here's a recap of what we plan to do with the dollars.

Arts and cultural organizations
The budget adds $300,000, a 20-percent increase, to the Office's Civic Partners program. This program awarded $1.3 million to 119 arts and cultural organizations of all sizes in 2007. The budget also includes $36,000 to double funding for smART ventures, an innovative pilot program prioritizing diverse and underserved artists and communities. The program's seed investments funds cultural offerings, nurtures new ideas and widens cultural participation.

Arts education
A $100,000 investment will seed a capacity-building initiative with Seattle Public Schools helping to provide access to quality arts education for all students.

History and cultural heritage
In 1909, Seattle opened its doors to the world with the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (AYP) Exposition. A seminal event in the young city's history, the AYP put Seattle on the map. To mark the centennial of this important milestone, $200,000 will fund preparations for a year-long celebration in 2009, which will feature exhibitions, publications and events.

Cultural facilities and capacity building
Investments in cultural facilities include $150,000 each to Town Hall and ArtsWest to complete facility purchases. In addition to the mayor's proposed budget, the City Council added dollars for 911 Media Arts Center, The Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas and HistoryLink. Each will receive $50,000 to fund capacity-building initiatives.

Art and transportation
The budget also authorizes a new full-time arts project manager. Housed in the Seattle Department of Transportation this position will identify opportunities to enhance transportation projects by integrating art and the work of artists into the routine work of the department.

This budget increase sends the message that the public sector, private sector and individuals all have an important role to play in keeping arts and culture strong in Seattle. Your efforts in support of the mayor's budget clearly paid off. Many thanks to the mayor; City Council; and to you, our partners.


Michael Killoren

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