King County to spend $28 million on cultural facilities, projects

King County Executive Dow Constantine on Tuesday signed his proposal, approved by the King County Council, to make a historic investment of $28.4 million in capital improvement grants to 100 cultural facilities and projects across the county.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Wednesday, November 25, 2015 5:48pm
  • News

King County Executive Dow Constantine on Tuesday signed his proposal, approved by the King County Council, to make a historic investment of $28.4 million in capital improvement grants to 100 cultural facilities and projects across the county.

None of the projects or facilities, however, are in Kent.

“We didn’t apply to receive funding from this source,” said city of Kent spokeswoman Michelle Witham, who checked with Parks Department staff to find out why Kent didn't get any funds. “For this opportunity, we lacked qualifying bricks and mortar types of cultural facilities or current capital projects that were applicable.”

The $28.4 million in grants are financed by bonds backed by a portion of the county's lodging tax paid by visitors. Projects will receive funding among Kent's neighboring cities of Federal Way, Auburn, Des Moines, Renton and Tukwila.

“I proposed Building for Culture to leverage lodging taxes paid by visitors, and reinvest them in the bricks and mortar of museums, theaters, and heritage sites so we can continue to attract more visitors and locals alike,” said Constantine in a county media release. “What's special is the depth and breadth of these investments - youth and ethnic heritage centers; the historic theaters of downtown Seattle and new cultural destinations countywide; landmarks and treasured historic buildings.”

The county looked to fund projects that were ready to be built or remodeled.

“A vibrant arts and cultural community is a hallmark of King County, something we are well known for nationally. The arts generate significant economic activity, provide a high quality of life for residents, inspire learning opportunities for youth, and attracts tourists,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “Through support of our arts and heritage organizations, we recognize the important role that these cultural experiences have in strengthening communities and developing young minds.”

Building for Culture is a one-time expansion of 4Culture's annual facilities grant program, and will go to build new cultural facilities as well as expand, preserve and improve existing ones and protect landmarks and historic places.

During the last recession, major upgrades or replacement of the region's arts and heritage infrastructure were put on hold as organizations focused on meeting operating costs.

The breakdown of the funded projects include:

Investing for Youth: $1.6 million

Providing the resources needed to develop the audiences, performers and arts enthusiasts for future generations: Bellevue Youth Theatre, Coyote Central, Evergreen City Ballet, KidsQuest Children's Museum, Music Works Northwest, Pacific Northwest Ballet Bellevue School, and Seattle Children's Theatre.

Investing in New Cultural Destinations: $8.6 million

Completion of longstanding building projects to provide performance and community spaces, as well as spaces for expanded education programming and new interpretive parks: Burke Museum, Center for Wooden Boats, Duvall Foundation for the Arts, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, Freehold Theatre Lab Studio, Holocaust Center for Humanity, Jimi Hendrix Park, KidsQuest Children's Museum, Friends of KEXP, Mini-Mart City Park, Museum of Flight Aviation Pavilion, Nordic Heritage Museum, Northwest Railway Museum Education Center, Performing Arts Center Eastside, Shoreline Historical Museum, Vashon Allied Arts Center for the Arts and Washington State Jewish Historical Society.

Investing in South King County: $4.6 million

Funding for new infrastructure in a region that has traditionally had less access to resources: Auburn Masonic Temple, Auburn Arts Center, Carco Theatre, Covenant Beach Lodge in Des Moines, Duwamish Hill in Tukwila, Enumclaw Expo and Event Center, Evergreen City Ballet, Highline Historical Society, Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center, Moshier Arts Center in Burien, Museum of Flight, Renton Historical Society, Sea Mar Museum of Latino History and Cultural Center and White River Valley Museum.

Investing in Historic Theatres: $3 million

Replacing failing heating and cooling systems, revamping elevators that no longer work, and restoring historic features of heavily-used community spaces: The Fifth Avenue Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), On the Boards, The Paramount Theater, Seattle Children's Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theater, Town Hall Seattle, and Washington Hall.

Saving Landmarks: $2 million

34 projects dedicated to the rehabilitation or acquisition of landmark properties. Highlights include seismic retrofits and repairs to unreinforced masonry buildings in Seattle's International District; rehab of suburban Community Halls that serve as gathering places in Shoreline, Kenmore, Skykomish, and Tukwila; and substantial safety repairs at the Georgetown Steam Plant, a nationally-significant industrial landmark.

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