Friday, February 23, 2018

ONWARD!


This past Wednesday, more than 100 advocates showed up to the King County Council hearing to show opposition to Ordinance #2018-0086. Your testimony was inspiring (check out the video recording) - you spoke about what 4Culture means to you and your community, how you have witnessed the transparent selection panels, participated on their committees, and utilized 4Culture as a resource and a model. 

Thank you!

We hope the Councilmembers heard you and are taking your messages to heart. So many of you spoke that the Councilmembers were left with no time for discussion and a vote. 

The next Committee of the Whole hearing will be on March 7th at 9:30 AM. There may or may not be an opportunity for public comment, but it is critically important that advocates show up to demonstrate that citizens are still engaged and just as opposed as ever, amendments or no amendments! 

WHERE IS DOW?
Why haven't we heard anything from our County Executive Dow Constantine and he needs to know that this power grab by the Council is inappropriate and unnecessary. We need to hear that he continues to support arts and culture in King County.

CALL TO ACTION:

1. CONTACT King County Executive Dow Constantine 
kcexec@kingcounty.gov or (206) 263-9600)

Ask him to Veto Ordinance #2018-0086; and 
Thank him for being a great supporter of arts and culture in our region; and remind him that the cultural community votes. Assure him that with his help now, the arts and culture community will support him in the future.


2. CONTACT Pete von Reichbauer of District 7 (South King County/Federal Way/Auburn) 

Tell him why and where you live, work, or visit in his district; and 
Ask him why he is sponsoring Ordinance #2018-0086 and urge him to vote against Ordinance #2018-0086


Thank you advocates. You are making a difference!
Facebook: advocate4culture 
Twitter: advocate4cultur

Advocate4Culture is an independent group. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of 4Culture or its employees.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Unite and Fight to Save 4Culture!

JOIN US! Please attend this critical public meeting to fight King County Ordinance #2018-0086 on Wednesday, February 21st at 9:30 a.m. Meet fellow advocates at the King County Council Chambers located on the 10th floor of the King County Courthouse [516 3rd Avenue]

Advocates will be on hand to assist you when you arrive. You may choose to sign up to speak during the public comment period if you wish. You don't have to speak. Simply being there is powerful! Let's remind the King County Council that they work for US - not the other way around. We live, work, and VOTE in King County. Lets SHUT THIS ORDINANCE DOWN. 

Plan to arrive early. Parking is available in pay-lots, but can be expensive. Bus and Light Rail (Pioneer Square Station) are recommended. You will need to go through a security screening as you enter the building. Council Chambers are on the 10th Floor. The building and 10th floor are ADA accessible.

We look forward to seeing you there. All are welcome!

Facebook: advocate4culture 
Twitter: advocate4cultur


Advocate4Culture is an independent group. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of 4Culture or its employees.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

We Are Having An Impact. Don’t Let Up!

King County staff are counting the letters, emails, and calls they are receiving for and against Ordinance #2018-0086 which proposes devastating changes to 4Culture. We need to keep the pressure on so that they are overwhelmed by their constituents and community urging them to say NO to this ordinance. 

Let’s not waste our time on the councilmembers who are determined to yank control from the people (the hundreds of citizen volunteers who serve to guide 4Culture). They are stubbornly going to hold onto their ill-informed reasoning and deceitful commentary. We won’t change their minds with facts and logic now.

We must focus on select councilmembers and the King County Executive because they can and will make a difference in this fight. Let’s provide them facts and share our experiences as cultural workers (that’s you!) that 4Culture functions ethically and efficiently in services to the people of King County. 


CALL TO ACTION:
Contact our King County Executive Dow Constantine (kcexec@kingcounty.gov or 206-263-9600and:
  • Ask him to Veto Ordinance #2018-0086;
  • Thank him for being a great supporter of arts and culture in our region; and 
  • We vote. Assure him that with his help now, the arts and culture community will support him in the future. 

If you haven’t already contacted your Councilmember, NOW is the time (Find Your Councilmember). 
We believe the councilmembers who are sponsors of the Ordinance, yet are thoughtful and listening right now are Pete von Reichbauer (District 7) and Reagan Dunn (District 9). Do you live in South King County, or know other cultural advocates that do? Urge them to contact Councilmember von Reichbauer and Dunn. When you contact them:

  • Let them know where you live, work, or visit in their district 
  • Ask them why they are sponsoring Ordinance #2018-0086 
  • Urge them to vote against Ordinance #2018-0086

Here’s how to contact them:


Thank you advocates! 

Advocate4Culture is an independent group. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of 4Culture or its employees.

Councilmembers Are Misinformed. We're Setting the Record Straight!

Councilmembers Dave Upthegrove, Rod Dembowski, and Kathy Lambert are spending lot of King County taxpayer time on social media spreading information about 4Culture and Ordinance #2018-0086 that is simply not true. Here are the facts:

WRONG: Councilmembers have stated this ordinance does not allow the council to amend the 4Culture budget only approve or reject. 
FACT: We’re not naive. Numerous staffers at King County have confirmed what we suspected - Councilmembers will hold a budget hostage if they don’t get what they want. Allowing the Council to approve or reject the budget leaves the door wide open for them to demand pet-projects be funded and those they deem unsavory to be censored. 

WRONG: Councilmembers have stated 4Culture is an elitist organization that only funds big institutions in Seattle.
FACT: You’re joking right? Jump on to 4Culture’s website that lists “past grants” and check out just the first few pages. 10 Degrees, 206 Zulu, 3 Ring School of Circus Arts are the first three organizations that pop up. Those are not exactly elitist or big. The first two support artists of color and the LGBTQ community and 3 Ring School of Circus works with low-income families in Issaquah. 

WRONG: Councilmembers have stated 4Culture gives grants.
FACT: The fact is all award funds distributed by 4Culture are EARNED. Additionally, nearly all dollars awarded by 4Culture are decided by CITIZEN review panels composed of citizens who are dedicated to the arts, history, and culture. 

WRONG: Councilmembers have stated that 4Culture doesn’t fund refugees, immigrants, or people of color.
FACT: This falsehood is particularly hard to stomach. At this moment, Gallery4Culture features Mexican-American artist Marilyn Montufar and the Mexican Consulate proudly hosted her opening on First Thursday Gallery Walk. Again, visit the past grants section of their website, you’ll quickly see councilmembers are WRONG. 

WRONG: Councilmembers have stated 4Culture’s budget is voluntarily appropriated by the King County Council every year to 4Culture to support its mission.
FACT: State law defines the use of the funds and existing county ordinance defines 4Culture’s role. It’s not as if the council has to sit down each year and decide whether or not to use these funds for arts and culture or some other random use like waste water treatment.

Dembowski: “Councilmembers will not be involved in grant decisions or specific proposals. I take seriously my duty to ensure that the budget fairly supports initiatives that fund organizations and artists, across the spectrum of our diverse county, and to ensure that overhead is kept in check so that these funds get into the community.”
Advocate4Culture: Councilmembers are already involved in grant decisions and specific proposals in many County programs. We’ve been hearing from County employees that they are directed by councilmembers to give monetary awards to groups that never even applied for support. Not only are these groups not earning these funds, they didn't even ask for them. 

Dembowski: “I have been a strong supporter of 4Culture and its purpose, and am optimistic that increased collaboration with King County will strengthen the case to further support its mission and funding.”
Advocate4Culture: Really?  If you are such a great supporter of the arts and culture community, why couldn’t you talk to 4Culture, or anyone outside of the council chamber, when you and Councilmember Upthregrove were writing this ordinance?  How about asking 4Culture how you could pitch in to help rather than trying to win political points by flinging mud?  

Dembowski: “Looking at recent grant data from 4Culture, I am concerned that funding has, for too long, not been fairly distributed to all communities. For example, over a three year period (2012-14), grants to organizations and artists in my district totaled between $217,986 and $243,674 per year for a three year total of $700,694 (4.99% of all funds). This put District 1 organizations 7th out of 9 districts in funding. “
Advocate4Culture: We’ve looked at their numbers too. Have you also seen that the vast majority of applicants don’t come from your district? The old “you can’t win if you don’t play.” phrase works well here. We've talked with several people who have served as "panelists" for 4Culture and they've said that 4Culture ask them to prioritize applicants from outside Seattle. Applications from outside of Seattle have a far greater chance of being funded. 

Dembowski: “And we put Access for All on the ballot last year, and came close to passing it. However, one of the chief criticisms of the proposal centered on weak oversight of the significant investment of public dollars.  A second criticism was that too much concentration of funding left behind many areas of the county and smaller organizations.”
Advocate4Culture: Councilmember, Access for All isn’t the same as 4Culture. 4Culture may have become the organization that managed these funds, but if Councilmembers were the ones to put Access for All on the ballot, maybe you should have figured out your 'criticisms' before you did so. Doesn’t putting a measure on the ballot cost like a MILLION DOLLARS? 

Dembowski: “I personally testified before the legislature to help secure this funding stream.”
Advocate4Culture: Funny, we were there for every hearing through 2011 and we don’t remember seeing or hearing from you at all.  We don’t recall your being there in support of 4Culture. You must be mistaken. 

Dembowski: “Funding for the period 2015-17 shows that organizations and artists in my district received just 2.66% of all funds, ranking 8th out of 9 districts. While I don’t advocate for precise equality in distributions countywide, this data points to an out-of-balance and inequitable funding record, depriving small and diverse arts, culture, and heritage programs from growing and thriving countywide.”
Advocate4Culture: Again, did you know that applications from outside Seattle have a far greater chance of being funded by 4Culture?  If you didn’t know this you should have taken 5 minutes to ask 4Culture for the numbers, like we did.  What arts or history groups in your district have not applied to 4Culture or did apply and feel that their applications were not considered in a fair and equitable manner? What citizen volunteer from your district who has worked as a reviewer or advisory member agrees with you that funding allocation is made by an unfair process? 

Have you announced all of 4Culture’s opportunities in your newsletters? Do you tell your constituents at your town halls that they can apply for grant funds? What have you done to spread the word? Using this as an excuse to seize power when your office has done virtually nothing to help is hypocritical at best.

Let's keep setting the record straight advocates! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Update – New Developments

We have the momentum and we need to keep it going! 

Advocates for arts and culture are doing a great job! The effort to sneak through a takeover of 4Culture didn’t work as planned. This bad idea is now being exposed all over Facebook and Twitter. And we’ve been hearing about the many emails and phone calls being sent to councilmembers. 

4Culture is not legally allowed to do any grassroots lobbying to defend itself and fight, but we can! The arts and cultural community has and must continue to step up to do this advocacy work. 

WHAT'S HAPPENING

The ordinance has been referred to the council’s "committee of the whole". People contacting council members are being told the most likely date for a public hearing will be Wednesday, February 21st at 9:30 a.m.

Sponsors of King County Ordinance #2018-0086 are repeating the “oversight and accountability” mantra, but at a recent public meeting a council member actually said they flat out wanted to “control” 4Culture.

4Culture has posted an updated statement about the ordinance. It's full of information about how they currently function and how this proposal would shift power to the Council. 

CALL TO ACTION

1. Plan to join fellow advocates on Wednesday, February 21st at 9:30 a.m. at Council Chambers in the King County Courthouse [516 3rd Avenue, 10th Floor]. The ordinance is not on the agenda yet, so we don’t know the exact time, but we’ll post an update as soon as we know. As part of the normal hearing process, folks can show up at the hearing and speak directly to council members during the public comment period. You don’t have to comment – simply you being there is huge. The more advocates there - the better!

2. Contact King County Executive Dow Constantine and ask him to veto Ordinance #2018-0086 if it is passed through council. Dow is pro arts and heritage. We need his help. Here's why:
  • This ordinance cuts him out of the process for appointing 4Culture’s Board. Instead, Council will appoint a majority of 4Culture’s Board without any input from his office.
  • This ordinance is a complete takeover of arts and cultural funding by the council. Approving 4Culture’s budget in fact means council will have the power to amend the budget. The King County Council can simply demand any changes to grants they want and hold grant money hostage until 4Culture gives them a budget they want. 
  • This ordinance was written with zero consultation from the arts and heritage communities. 4Culture has said they were not notified that this kind of action was even being discussed.
3. Contact your council member – and activate your networks to do the same! Find your King County Councilmember and send them an email or call their office and tell them from your own experience and perspective how: 
  • 4Culture has served the community well for 15 years and has the public trust.
  • The proposed ordinance undermines 4Culture’s independence, threatens the competitive and fair application and selection process, opening the door to favoritism and inequitable funding. 
Close by asking them: Please do NOT support Ordinance #2018-0086. 

Thank you advocates! We know it’s hard to keep up the fight up, but together we are making a difference!

Advocate4Culture is an independent group. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of 4Culture or its employees.




Friday, January 26, 2018

It's Not an Exaggeration, It's Real!

The threat to 4Culture’s independence and effectiveness in the community is real and immediate!  Thanks to all the advocates for culture that have been contacting their councilmembers and asking them to oppose Ordinance #2018-0086. 

Councilmember Dave Upthegrove is spending a lot of time on Facebook today soft-selling the proposed takeover of 4Culture.

Here are the facts
  • While the ordinance prevents council from amending the budget, in fact they can withhold funds, stopping the vital flow of grant funding to artists, heritage, preservation, and arts organizations throughout the county 
  • Budget approval by the council empowers individual members to hold community grant funds hostage until they see specific line items in the budget they like – something council cannot do today 
  • Council is not required to consult with anyone in order to appoint a majority of 4Culture’s board 
  • Council can hire and fire the Executive Director at will, which is unprecedented… not for any other division in the county government does the council have the power to dismiss a director 
  • If councilmembers truly want to work with 4Culture and "ensure the big picture direction of the agency," did they contact 4Culture board, leadership and community members to seek input in the drafting of the ordinance?
How oversight works now
  • According to the 4Culture website, three councilmembers sit on the 4Culture board currently, allowing for opportunities for information sharing and council oversight 
  • 4Culture posts annual audits – showing their stellar record for appropriately stewarding public funds 
  • 4Culture is respected for their fair and transparent grant approval process that utilizes citizen review panels, expert advisory committees and board oversight

What 4Culture does today
  • 4Culture’s citizen review panels always prioritize a broad geographic distribution of funding
  • 4Culture works diligently to ensure its funding is equitable.  
  • 4Culture staff are highly respected nationally and  have received numerous awards for their leadership in the cultural fields
  • 4Culture’s grant programs are designed, implemented, and run to be competitive, fair, and above politics
Call to Action:
Contact your King County Councilmember and ask them to oppose Ordinance #2018-0086. This Ordinance was referred to the Committee of the Whole. 


 Advocate4Culture is an independent group. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of 4Culture or its employees.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

King County Council Moves To Dissolve 4Culture...

…In reality if not in name. Yesterday we discovered that King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove introduced an ordinance to take over decision making of 4Culture's arts, heritage, preservation, and public arts program.  This ordinance blindsided our entire cultural community.
(read the full text)

The proposed ordinance allows council members
  • To veto the 4Culture budget, which determines funding for arts, heritage, preservation, and public arts
  • To hire and fire the 4Culture Executive Director
  • To nominate and directly appoint the majority of 4Culture board members without consultation
4Culture strives to distribute funds in the most strategic, meritorious, and equitable way possible, while acknowledging that improvements can always be made. The dismantling of 4Culture is not the best path toward progress, nor is it in the best interest of King County’s cultural and artistic health. We understand that 4Culture has always welcomed the chance to work with the King County Council to address its concerns. But this work must be undertaken with a shared understanding and appreciation of the effectiveness and efficiency that has defined 4Culture’s legacy over the past 15 years.

Contact your King County councilmember today!  We ask you to send a clear message to the Council: Partisan politics should not have a place in public funding for arts and culture.  The public expects that the funding decisions made by 4Culture's citizen review panels are not influenced by politicians or special interests. 
  • Find your councilmember
  • When communicating to your councilmember, tell them (in your words from your personal perspective):
    • 4Culture has served the community well for 15 years and has the public trust
    • The proposed ordinance undermines 4Culture’s independence, threatens the competitive application process, opening the door to favoritism and inequitable funding
    • Please do NOT support ordinance #2018-0086. Now more than ever, independent agencies like 4Culture are critical
  • The Council will assign the ordinance to a committee.  When that committee meets, we will need your support at that hearing.
Thank you advocates!

Councilmembers:
Rod Dembowski rod.dembowski@kingcounty.gov 
Claudia Balduccci claudia.balducci@kingcounty.gov
Dave Upthegrove dave.upthegrove@kingcounty.gov
Reagan Dunn reagan.dunn@kingcounty.gov
Jeanne Kohl-Welles jeanne.kohl-welles@kingcounty.gov
Pete von Reichbauer pete.vonreichbauer@kingcounty.gov
Larry Gossett larry.gossett@kingcounty.gov
Joe McDermott joe.mcdermott@kingcounty.gov
Kathy Lambert kathy.lambert@kingcounty.gov 



Advocate4Culture is an independent group. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of 4Culture or its employees.