This afternoon, King County Council voted to redefine the relationship between 4Culture and King County, limiting our future independence by controlling our budget and board member appointment process in the name of “increased oversight and accountability.”
With no consultation with 4Culture, its board and staff, or the community served by 4Culture, the council “determined” that 4Culture needs more oversight because we would see a $3 million dollar increase in revenues beginning in 2021.
We don’t yet know what the full impact of this legislation will be over time. But some facts are clear:
- While the Council will be able to reject the 4Culture budget and withhold the transfer of funds to 4Culture until a budget is “accepted,” there is no defined process or timeline for the Council to consider an amended budget. Going forward, this could affect the timely distribution of 4Culture grants to organizations and individuals.
- Previous requirements that the 4Culture Board of Directors demonstrate expertise in arts, heritage, preservation, or public art and at least one represent the business community have been relegated to the 6 positions that the King County Executive will appoint—a minority of the 15-member board. Councilmembers will now appoint one board member each using whatever criteria they individually choose, compromising the board’s proficiency and independence.
- The Council will be tasked with confirming 4Culture’s Executive Director, who is not a county employee. The Council’s wish to be able to fire the employee of an independent entity has been removed.
- A “task force” will be convened to examine all aspects of 4Culture’s governance and operations through an equity lens of some kind and report back to council in early 2019. There are no criteria established for the outcomes and use of the report. This effort will require major focus and funding from 4Culture staff and volunteers. We hope that the consultant and community representatives will be thoughtfully selected.
We will adjust to all of these new rules. We are resolute in our commitment to support the cultural workers and residents of King County through innovation, dedication, and organizational integrity, and we want to assure all of our current, contracted grant recipients: your funds are not in jeopardy.
Thank you to all of the many individuals who took the time to write and call councilmembers and testify publicly regarding this legislation. You have stated loud and clear that you are paying attention. That will make a profound difference moving forward.
With deep gratitude,
Jim Kelly, Executive Director
Debra Twersky, Deputy Director