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Mayor Announces 2015-16 budget; increased investments in arts and culture

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce Mayor Ed Murray proposed his 2015-16 budget today, with increased investments in arts and culture. The Office’s core programing is made possible through the 1% for Art ordinance and the 75% allocation of Admissions Tax, which is being maintained. Additions have been made in arts education, equity work, and public art activations, among other things.

Here’s a breakdown of the Mayor’s increased support of the arts:

Support for Creative Advantage arts education program

An allocation of nearly $200,000 across 2015-16 continues the work of the Creative Advantage partnership with Seattle Public Schools through the implementation phase. This budget will cover contracts with community based organizations vetted through the Arts Partner Roster, and professional development for teachers. Additionally, we will expand Music & Career Day to assist in creating career pathways in the creative industries for young people.

Arts & Equity

The Office of Arts & Culture is an active participant in the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), an effort to realize the vision of racial equity. The Initiative works within City government and with community leaders to get to the root cause of racial inequity: institutional racism. This allocation supports a partnership with the City’s Office for Civil Rights; maintains the ARTISTS UP program, a joint initiative between our Office, 4Culture, and Artist Trust to improve our ability to serve all artists in Seattle, King County and Washington State; and provides funding, professional development and leadership training across the cultural community.

City of Creativity

We’re excited to expand our partnership with the Office of Economic Development and the Office of Film and Music over the next two years as part of our undertaking to expand local economic opportunities for artists. This project will include support for telling the story of creative industries in Seattle, funding for a regional cultural plan, additional staff support on the communications team to keep pace with the increased programming and maintain high visibility for this work, and additional communications and event materials.

Arts Activations

Building on successful temporary public art activation projects such as All Rise with Seattle City Light, Art Interruptions with SDOT, and ARTSparks with Seattle Parks, this proposal will increase opportunities for temporary art activations in partnership with Seattle Center, Parks Department, and the Office of the Waterfront to increase community engagement and neighborhood activation through the arts.

LHPAI Theater Equipment Upgrade

This proposal partially funds the need for new audio, lighting and other equipment that is badly needed at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in order to support the facility’s rental program and in-house productions. This provision will support the transition of LHPAI to a non-profit by the end of 2015.

The mayor’s budget is a balanced budget, and now goes to City Council for review. The Council is expected to approve the budget by Thanksgiving. We are pleased that the Mayor has demonstrated his support of arts and culture through the budget process, and I encourage you to show your support of the proposed budget, either by attending one of the two budget public hearings (listed below) or by emailing the City Council in support.

  • October 7, 2014 – Garfield Community Center at 5:30 p.m.
  • October 23, 2014 – Seattle City Hall, Council Chamber at 5:30 p.m.

Many thanks to the mayor for his support of arts and culture in Seattle.


Randy Engstrom, director