Today Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess and Seattle City Council Budget Chair Nick Licata announced a proposal to increase the City’s investment in youth arts education and preservation of cultural spaces.
“Seattle is stepping up and providing arts education in schools that have not had it in years,” said Murray. “This investment aligns new and expanding programming with my vision for a vibrant, equitable city. Every child must have the same opportunity to learn through the arts and every resident must have access to the creative economy.”
Murray, Burgess and Licata are endorsing an increase in funding to the Office of Arts & Culture from the existing admissions tax levied on tickets at entertainment venues. The increased allocation from seventy-five percent to eighty percent of the admissions tax will add $400,000 per year for arts in the City budget. The mayor will introduce his full budget on Monday.
“As our city grows, we must invest in the culture of Seattle that has given us our unique identity and strength,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “Seattle is the entertainment and cultural center of the Pacific Northwest. Let’s make certain we provide strong public support for this vital sector of our economy.”
“Having requested this increase at the urging of the Seattle Arts Commission when I met with the Mayor in August of 2014, I am grateful to see him include it in his 2016 budget,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “I urge Mayor Murray to work toward raising it to one hundred percent in the following years. The pressing need for affordable cultural space, quality arts education, and the imagination working artists bring to our city will not lessen anytime soon.”
The increase will fund expansion of The Creative Advantage and other education initiatives that support work readiness and job training through the arts. Creative Advantage brings together the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, private nonprofit organizations, and the philanthropic sector to expand the availability of arts education in the schools.
Studies show that at-risk youth who have access to the arts in or out of school tend to have better academic results, better workplace opportunities and more civic engagement. Arts-infused learning in reading and math helps close the achievement gap between low-income children and children of color in comparison to white and more affluent students.
The mayor’s budget will also provide additional grant funding to support retention of arts and ethnic cultural spaces in our neighborhoods. Cultural spaces ensure neighborhood livability and vibrancy, and are anchors for many communities, including immigrant and refugees.