Dear Advocates and Partners,
Imagine how your creative and cultural programs will grow if you were provided more funding. How would you inspire your community with more science, heritage, and arts experiences? What is your community's cultural future? To support growth, Inspire Washington has been focused on increasing investments from the state and developing new funding resources from local government. When cities and counties step up, then cultural funding may respond to the specific challenges your communities are facing and opportunities that will have profound impacts. And, what if the funding was significant? Well, then the investments would be transformative. That is Inspire Washington's deepest wish for all of our cultural partners and the communities you serve.
We have invested so much of our time and energy into Washington's Cultural Access program because the potential funding for your community is incredible. Last year, our success with House Bill 1575, places this opportunity in reach by expanding the authorizing options for the program. Now a community may adopt a program with a public vote OR councilmanic authority. This opportunity is fueling renewed interest across Washington. Your city, town or county could be next!
King County adopts Cultural Access.
On December 5th, King County Council unanimously approved their cultural access program, Doors Open, utilizing their councilmanic authority as provided by HB 1575. As a result, public funding of science, heritage, and the arts will increase by $90+ million annually with a small sales tax that King County residents will pay. We know this investment is critical for the fragile businesses that are struggling to recover from the pandemic and will revitalize community life and spur economic growth across the very diverse county. To learn more about the program, please read the press release from King County Council.
Tacoma Creates and Inspire Olympia, our citywide Cultural Access programs, paved the way. As Washington's first county and councilmanic program, we hope that Doors Open will have a positive ripple effect throughout the state to inspire many others to adapt their own. Our team is keen to provide guidance and mentorship to groups that are interested in pursuing a cultural access program for their city or county, through a public vote or councilmanic process. Please reach out to us to chart your journey.
Advocacy is aspirational and inspiring. There were many roadblocks in the last several years that made cultural access in King County seem unattainable, but we, as a coalition, persisted and persevered. We are so grateful to our champions, Executive Constantine, prime sponsor Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, co-sponsor Councilmember Claudia Balducci and the other seven councilmembers who embraced and supported this incredible opportunity. To the members of Regional Policy Committee, thank you for your work on the challenging amendment process; you made the program better! Thank you to WA Representative Julia Reed, prime sponsor of HB 1575, the bill that made this opportunity possible. Shout out to our incredible campaign team: Sung Yang, Rachel Mishra, Andy Jensen, and Bryan Yambe.
Most of all, we give our endless gratitude to the thousands of advocates across the state who testified, wrote in letters, and signed in pro for HB 1575 during the 2022 Legislative Session. We always said that this would not happen because Inspire Washington asked for it; it would only happen because everyone made their voice heard, and you did that. And this win is because of you and for you. In 2024 and beyond, let's make Cultural Access a reality for more communities across Washington!
With humble gratitude,
The Inspire WA Team
Manny Cawaling, Executive Director
Jessi Wasson, Programs and Operations Manager
Madeline Dalton, Advocacy Coordinator
Anna Tatelman, Annual Fund Manager