King County Council Approves Doors Open
SummaryStrengthening King County’s cultural sector and increasing public access to arts, heritage, science and historic preservation education and experiences.
Today, in a historic vote, the King County Council unanimously passed Doors Open legislation to increase funding to King County arts, heritage, science, and historic preservation non-profit organizations through a 0.1 percent sales tax. With this funding, organizations can deepen their mission-driven programming and amplify their reach to communities across the County.
Doors Open will help stabilize a cultural sector that drives the local economy, yet has been consistently underfunded, and devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefits of a strong cultural sector are many: research shows that arts, culture, and science are integral to healthy communities, and can improve the rates of student graduation, civic engagement, and social cohesion. Culture contributes to a quality of life that keeps people wanting to live and work in King County.
Doors Open is the result of a decade long legislative effort to increase funding in Washington State and King County for the cultural sector. We thank King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council for their vision and leadership, and Councilmembers Claudia Balducci, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Sarah Perry for their sponsorship of the legislation. We also thank Inspire Washington, led by Manny R. Cawaling, and the cultural community for their tireless advocacy.
With decades of grant-making experience, 4Culture is the County’s designated agency to implement Doors Open and distribute funding. Tax collection will begin in April 2024. It is estimated to generate approximately $100 million a year over seven years.
In 2024, Doors Open revenue will fund facilities and operating grants. This will infuse desperately needed capital into the sector and help organizations recover from the pandemic. Those living in and visiting King County should feel the impact as well, with increasingly more access to cultural activities and experiences.
In 2025, 4Culture will begin rolling out additional Doors Open programs, consisting of:
Doors Open funding will expand 4Culture’s flagship grant program, providing operating and programmatic dollars to meet the day-to-day needs of arts, preservation, heritage, and science and technology organizations, including rent, utilities, payroll, and other basic annual expenses.
Public School Cultural Access:
This program is intended to address gaps in K-12 cultural education. Grants will support arts, heritage, and science activities in schools; bring local artists, historians, and scientists into the classroom; and bring students into cultural venues.
Public Free Access:
Grants to help cover the costs organizations face to provide the public with free access to science and cultural experiences.
Building for Equity:
Facilities grants to help organizations acquire, build, or renovate brick-and-mortar buildings, as well as purchase the essential equipment that makes cultural and scientific experiences possible. Building for Equity provides a unique combination of funding, technical support, and strategic partnerships to help organizations secure their long-term facility needs. Communities that have historically faced barriers to purchasing and stewarding cultural space are at the center of the program.
The goal of this program is to make county-wide investments in the arts, heritage, and science ecosystems. This could cover public programs, encourage collaboration, support individual cultural practitioners, limited-time events, or address unmet community needs.
A fund for new, emerging organizations to ensure all geographic areas of King County and all communities have access to science and culture.
These programs are designed to address historic systemic inequities in funding and to expand capacity in geographic areas of King County that have limited funding for cultural resources.
Every program in Doors Open will include Equity Investments, a funding strategy designed to build a cultural sector that better reflects King County’s diversity. Equity Investments are additional funds for grant recipients located outside of Seattle and/or located in a 2020 Census tract with a King County Communities of Opportunity index percentile of 60% or greater. 4Culture began implementing Equity Investments in 2020, and this place-based strategy has steadily increased the proportion of 4Culture’s funding to BIPOC cultural practitioners, BIPOC organizations, and cities and communities outside of Seattle.
Knowing that increased funding through a Cultural Access program was a possibility, 4Culture prepared and held community discussions to inform the King County Cultural Plan, 4Culture Cultural Health Study and Education Study. Now that the legislation has passed, we will work with our King County partners to build out implementation details.
“Thank you to the King County Executive and the King County Council for their belief and investment in the region’s arts, culture, and science sector. Our work is guided by the principle that ‘culture is a right for all.’ Doors Open advances this vision and affirms our sector’s social and economic value. 4Culture will have increased resources to better support the entire sector, while working to correct the historic underinvestment in BIPOC communities and rural and unincorporated areas in King County.” – Brian J. Carter, Executive Director, 4Culture
“I am so excited to broaden access to cultural and science organizations on the Eastside. The need and the demand is far greater than most people realize. In Bellevue alone, more than 10,000 individuals are grappling with the harsh realities of poverty; in our school district over 50% of students at four Title 1 schools qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. At KidsQuest we have seen a 43% increase this year in requests for scholarships and reduced admission through our Museums for All access program. Doors Open will provide critical funding to support organizations like KidsQuest Children’s Museum in our efforts to ensure that all children in our community can access hands-on arts, heritage, and science educational resources and cultural experiences.” – Putter Bert, President & CEO, KidsQuest Children’s Museum
“I have the highest level of confidence in 4Culture’s ability to manage and equitably distribute Doors Open funding. This confidence comes as a result of my experience working with Brian Carter and staff while serving as a member and chair of the 4Cuture board. The consideration for this potential has been on the radar for many years and has been met with a strategic and thoughtful approach to distributing critical funding to arts and cultural organizations throughout Martin Luther King County, that ultimately support the communities we serve.” – Vivian Phillips, Communications, Arts Advocacy, Arts Consultant and Founder/President Arte Noir
“Government support for the cultural sector is essential! As a museum that serves 17,000 children of low-income families covering 104 different languages in Highline, we can’t survive and serve our community without this support. Our hearts are full of gratitude to the Executive and King County Council for their commitment and the acknowledgment of these families in Highline and around the county.” – Nancy Salguero McKay, Executive Director, Highline Heritage Museum
“Doors Open funding will enable the expansion of equitable access to PNB’s highest impact programs for young people across King County. We’re thrilled we’ll be able to respond to numerous requests to make offerings like PNB’s renowned DanceChance program available in South King County. And, we will grow in-school arts integration residency programs that Seattle, Highline, and Bellevue school districts currently enjoy. With transportation support from Doors Open, more students from across the county will also experience the joy and inspiration of The Nutcracker and other performances at McCaw Hall.” – Ellen Walker, Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet