Every time a visitor to King County stays in a hotel, they pay a lodging tax—this is where most of our funding comes from, and our mission is to put it back into the King County community. These taxes, paid by visitors staying in hotels or motels, provide the funds that are distributed through our grant programs.
1% for Art
4Culture also manages King County’s Public Art program, which is funded through the 1% for Art Ordinance, implemented in 1973. These funds are generated by construction projects done by county government, which are required to direct 1% of eligible parts of the budget towards public art portions of the project.
More on the King County Lodging Tax
King County’s lodging tax—often called the “hotel motel tax“—has linked sports and culture in our region since its creation in 1967 to fund the Kingdome, the original home of the Seattle Mariners. In 1987, Washington State passed a law to direct lodging taxes towards paying off the debt created by the Kingdome project, and stipulating that any surplus lodging tax produced between 1992 and 2013 would help fund King County’s arts and heritage programs. Lodging Tax programs successfully supported hundreds of organizations and artists for 20 years.
In May 2011, after several years of lobbying and with the support of dedicated cultural advocates, the Washington State legislature passed ESSB 5834, which finally guaranteed that Lodging Taxes would fund King County cultural programs for the long-term.
Key components of the bill included:
- Allocating 37.5% of lodging taxes beginning in 2021 for arts and culture.
- In the event the Kingdome ceiling repairs were paid for before the end of December 2015, from the time of the payoff through the end of 2015 all of the lodging taxes would be directed to 4Culture.
Thanks to a Seattle tourism boom, the Kingdome debt was paid off ahead of schedule in early 2015, sending enough funds to 4Culture to fulfill this promise. In 2015, 4Culture partnered with King County to back bonds to support Building for Culture, a historic, large-scale grant program to support building projects for cultural facilities and the preservation of historic properties.