Friday, February 26, 2010

laptop rallies - to save 4Culture

We're always asking you guys to write letters to your legislators to advocate 4 culture, and we know it can be kinda creepy and scary when you're just familiarizing yourself with the issues and folks involved. To make it easier and more fun to take action, in these last few REALLY IMPORTANT weeks of the session, we've planned two laptop rallies next week to help advocates become more strategic letter-writers. Also, frankly, we're tired and could use a drink.

We'll help you identify your legislative contacts, draft a note, make it personal, proof read, or just give you courage to do your civic duty. So, come for a couple minutes or a couple hours... we look forward to seeing you, dashing off some letters, and throwing a couple back.

Monday, March 1, 2010, 5 - 7pm

Stellar Pizza in Georgetown

5513 Airport Way S, Seattle

Note: We'll get a couple pizzas (first come first served) but please bring $$ to pay for your drinks (and we'll be on one check, so cash is really really appreciated to help make our check-settling easier.)

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Thursday, March 4, 2010, 6 - 8pm

Caffe Vita in the Tashiro Kaplan building in Pioneer Square

125 Prefontaine Pl S, Seattle

Note: This event is planned to coincide with First Thursday artwalk in Pioneer Square, so we hope you'll stop by, write a letter, and then hit the streets to see some art!

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One week left to pass a bill or 4Culture starts planning program cuts

There are only two weeks left in this session and we need legislation to move. If bills are not passed this year, we just heard confirmation that 4Culture is going to start planning dramatic staff, services and funding programs cuts that will begin as early as January, 2011. This is the first this reality has truly sunk in and we’re panicking.

Since the session started in January, we’ve seen at least 6 different bills proposed that would generate the support needed for 4Culture to continue to thrive. Unfortunately NONE of these bills has successfully moved through both the House and the Senate and time is running out.

What we need now is for every arts and heritage advocate in the state to write to their legislators with a general letter of support in the next few days. Even if you’ve already written a letter supporting specific bills, we need one last push to make sure that legislators understand that whatever name and number you put on the bill, we need ARTS and HERITAGE funding to be secured THIS YEAR.

Please ask friends and family to do the same. Senators and Reps from all over the state will get to vote on this issue, so we need non-king county legislators to understand that their constituents are excited about strong funding.

Here’s how to find your legislator

Below is a template for you to follow, or if you want a hand, some advice, a proof reader, or just to drink with us, stop by one of our laptop rallies next week and send your note from there.

Dear (Senator or Representative) XLAST NAMEX,

As a constituent living in your district, I am writing today to urge you to support legislation that continues funding for arts and heritage in King County through King County lodging taxes.

Add personal example of how your organization/self is served by 4Culture and what the loss of 4Culture would mean to you (see examples below or write your own)

The agency 4Culture has stewarded lodging taxes for cultural programs in King County for over 20 years. If a bill is not passed this year to secure their funding, they will begin planning to cut programs and services as early as January 2011. XXXX Personal note here bout how this would have a negative impact on you, your organization, your family, etcXX.

Xyour nameX
Xyour addressX

Examples of impact:

As a XXARTIST, PATRON, MUSEUM EXECUTIVE, MUSICIANXX I have benefited from 4Culture in the following ways XXXXXXX. For example:
  • I’ve been gainfully employed in the arts/heritage industry since moving to King County seven years ago – having a strong cultural community is about job security for me and thousands other in King County. 4Culture’s support provides stabilizing support for over 200 organizations County-wide.
  • I attend dozens of cultural events a year, and I see 4Culture’s logo on attached to most of these projects, not to mention on hundreds of posters and emails for events I can’t possibly make it to. If 4Culture funding goes away, many of these events will go away from our community. I can't imagine living in a neighborhood that didn't have vibrant social events to connect me to my neighbors.
  • My museum received critical support from 4Culture in a difficult time when our rent was doubled and we were forced to move to a new facility. Were it not for 4Culture's facilities programs, we might not have made it through this difficult transition.
  • My summer theater program is an important part of the South King County community. We employ several South King County residents, and provide hundreds of youth opportunities to participate in the arts each summer. Living outside of Seattle, 4Culture is the only source we are able to turn for ongoing operations and facility support, if this funding we to go away, we'd have to cut our program significantly.
  • 4Culture's Site-Specific program has brought fun, family-friendly, free performances to our local park each summer the last several years -- my kids now look forward to our annual tradition and come home and enact the performances.
  • I received a grant from 4Culture that helped me create a performance in Seattle that was so successful we were invited to tour to four different cities in the US. The tour enabled me to pay my company members for their performances. Our jobs as artists are real jobs, and touring and performing is how we create a livelihood and take care of our families. Our work also provides community benefit by allowing an opportunity for people to come together, express their ideas, learn, communicate and to be challenged. On my tour I felt like I was able to be an ambassador for King County and was able to garner contacts and support on a broader level through some national presenters and funders. As a professional artist, I am proud to come from a community that values art and who has an agency that is able to provide seed money for creative projects.
  • As a board member of a small non-profit arts organization in King County I know the value of 4Culture's funding. Our organization is able to pay rent for a full year with funds received from 4Culture. The simple fact is that we would literally not be able to keep our doors open without 4Culture's support.
  • 4Culture's technical services enable our organization to reach beyond our local community, and make us competitive and respected on a national scale. Though our work, aided by 4Culture, we draw visitors from around the world to King County. As you know, these tourist dollars reach deeply into our community, supporting a range of businesses from local cafes to high-end hotels and restaurants.
  • 4Culture's support has helped me leverage funds not only from the very few offerings in King County, but from foundations and corporations around the country. The 4Culture "Seal of Approval" demonstrates to national funders that my organization is valued and encourages their investment in our programs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

hello hello advocates are you there?

I've kind of grown fond of Hearing Room C. That's where many advocates4culture have spent some quality time this legislative session.

After the hearing for ESSB6051 in House Finance yesterday, many of us felt pretty good. Great testimony from advocates and smiles from legislators. But what does this all mean? Will we succeed? These trips to Olympia, the calls and letters - are they for nothing? Will 4Culture start shutting down in a couple of years?

Advocates, tell us you still have a fight left in you. We need to know you're out there and this matters. If you've written to your legislators - thank you, if you haven't please do.

You can reach us at (pep talks welcome)

Photo: Courtesy of Scott Squire

Monday, February 22, 2010

public hearing and how you can help

Advocates are heading down to Olympia tomorrow (2/23) - leaving Seattle around noon. If you need a ride, please email ASAP so we can get you there.

If you can't attend, but want to help, please see this post. Every email, call, letter and body in a hearing room counts at this stage of the game!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

thanks for standing up for culture - more work ahead

Thanks to all of the advocates that made it out on this beautiful Saturday to attend town hall meetings with legislators. Frank Chopp, Jamie Pedersen and Ed Murray had a standing-room-only crowd from the 43rd district.

When asked specifically about legislation that will fund arts and heritage, each of them expressed strong support, but it was clear that a partnership with low income housing was desired. We like this marriage too!

Now, one of our tasks is to make sure legislators do the work necessary to add low income housing support into ESSB6051, which has a public hearing in the House Finance Committee on February 23rd (see following post). Stay tuned for more updates and ways you can help pass legislation for arts and heritage once and for all!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

holy cow! another hearing

Rock solid! The house finance committee has scheduled ESSB6051 for a hearing this Tuesday. If you can join us at the hearing and need a ride, please email ASAP (by 3pm on Mon 2/22.) If you can't make it, please take 5 minutes to send a few emails or make a few calls (see below for instructions.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 1:30pm
House Finance Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

There are 9 committee members in the House of Representatives “hearing” ESSB6051 on Tuesday. Many of these are most likely to be in favor of this bill... but with so many pressures and a lot of stress down there in Olympia, we want to make sure they don't change their minds! Can you draft a super short email and individually send it to some or all of a few key legislators we've identified below asking them to pass ESSB6051 out of their committee and telling them why King County's arts/heritage community rocks your world? By the end of the day Monday would be perfect.

Here is contact information for key legislators “hearing” these bills who might need a little convincing. Their last name is followed by their first.

SELECT HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS * (360) 786-7862 * (360) 786-7906 * (360) 786-7900 * (360) 786-7944 * (360) 786-7822
*Thank this legislator for recently voting for passage of HB2912 that had similar support for arts and heritage in King County!

When you write, be brief and be sure to reference specific bill numbers. Here are some things to include in your email:

· Begin your letter formally with “Dear Representative [last name]

· Say that you are a resident of King County and that the arts and heritage funding through 4Culture is important to you.

· Ask them to please support ESSB6051 that includes funding for the arts and heritage program in King County.

· Thank them for recently supporting ESHB2912 and ask for their continued support of any bills that come before them (like ESSB6051) that would secure future funding for 4Culture.

· Add a short personal statement about how the arts and/or heritage or specifically 4Culture’s programs are valuable for you personally, your business, your employees, your neighborhood, your children, your quality of life, or your organization.

Thanks for your help!

make your voices heard this Saturday 2/20

It is time to show powerful legislators that we are powerful too!

We've heard of at least three different Town Hall meetings this Saturday -- please attend one of them to tell key legislators to support arts and heritage and preserve funding for 4Culture. Especially with bills still being considered in both the House and the Senate, we need arts/heritage advocates to come out in force! All Town Halls are free and open to the public. Legislators will provide an update on the 2010 Legislative Session and hold a discussion about the major issues facing our district and state this year. Ask them your questions about arts, heritage, culture and how are they going to come to terms and pass the current bills in the House and Senate.

If you live in, or attend events in Districts 11, 37 or 43, these are the town halls for you:

Sat, Feb 20,10am - noon
37th Legislative District
Representative Eric Pettigrew, Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, and Senator Adam Kline
Where: Zion Prep Academy, 4730 32nd Ave. S, Seattle

Sat, Feb 20, 2010, 11am - noon
11th Legislative District
Representative Bob Hasegawa
Where: Georgetown campus, SSCC, 6737 Corson Avenue S. Seattle, WA 98108

Sat, Feb 20, 2010, 1:30 - 3pm
43rd Legislative District
Speaker Frank Chopp, Representative Jamie Pedersen and Senator Ed Murray
Where: Seattle First Baptist Church, 111 Harvard Ave, Seattle

good news, we think...

Earlier this week, two 4Culture-related bills made some great progress... House Bill 2912 and Senate Bill 6051 both passed their respective Houses! While it's very exciting to have support on both sides of the legislature for arts and heritage... these bills still have a ways to go and your help is going to be needed again soon.

Here's some more info about what happened, and what we think will happen next:

Tuesday was an important cut-off day for the legislature, so the passage of bills in the both the senate and house were a critical step that will keep the bills alive this session. ESSB6051 was passed through the Senate on Monday night. 2ESHB2912 was passed through the House on Tuesday. They both provide funding for arts/heritage programs in King County through the lodging tax. But 2ESHB2912 is more expansive and dictates some other uses of lodging tax beyond the percentage allocated for cultural programs. Primarily, 2ESHB2912 offers low income housing the same percentage of future lodging tax as arts/heritage. Since there are major differences between the bills (beyond the arts/heritage part), hypothetically each of these two bills will now need to go over to the other house to be vetted and voted on by the other chamber -- which may mean more hearings or letter writing soon. We'll let you know...

For those who like more specifics:

HB 2912 was modified and became 2ESHB 2912 and that is what passed in the house and is now in the Senate Ways and Means for review. Here is a great summary:

SB 6051 was modified and became ESSB 6051 - this passed in the Senate and moved to the House Finance Committee. Here is a great summary:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Februrary 20th: Stand Up and Make a Difference

It is time to show powerful legislators that we are powerful too! Please attend a Town Hall meeting in Seattle to tell key legislators to support arts and heritage and preserve funding for 4Culture.

Saturday, February 20, 2010
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Seattle First Baptist Church
1111 Harvard Avenue, Seattle (at Seneca on Capitol Hill)

Speaker Frank Chopp, Representative Jamie Pedersen and Senator Ed Murray are coming together to offer this town hall meeting, which is free and open to the public. They will provide an update on the 2010 Legislative Session and hold a discussion about the major issues facing our district and state this year.

PLEASE ATTEND. This is a rare and important opportunity to show legislators we care about the preservation of arts and heritage funding! Prepare a question or two you’d like to ask them and plan to participate in the conversation.

Currently, active bills in Olympia that support arts and heritage funding include HB2912, which is now on the Floor of the House, and Senate Bill SB6051 on the Floor of the Senate. Both are waiting for a vote.

In addition to attending the Town Hall meeting on February 20th, please write:
Read the bottom of this post for some great tips for writing your legislators.

Image courtesy of Ervega

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

some progress! and a sticking point...

HB2912 was given a “do pass” recommendation in the House Finance Committee yesterday afternoon. All language allowing King County to fund publicly owned stadiums was struck from the bill. Since stadium funding was a sticking point with many of the legislators who met with Advocates on Arts Day last Tuesday, this improves the possibility that 2912 will receive a positive vote on the House floor if and when it gets there. The next step is to get 2912 from House Rules Committee to the floor. Given that 2912 also includes funding for low-income housing, it has an excellent chance to move from House Rules.

The companion bill - SB6661 - never made it out of the Economic Development, Trade and Innovation Committee. Sen. Ed Murray re-introduced 6051, a small bill from last year’s legislative session that specifically funds arts and heritage in King County, but not the other activities delineated in HB2912. It is actually on the Senate floor awaiting a floor vote. If 6051 passes in the Senate and 2912 passes in the House, they will head for reconciliation. All of this is positive, but there are still minefields ahead.

Advocates need to focus their attention on the Senate. Now would be a good time to contact your Senator and any other state senator you have a relationship to, to encourage support for 6051. Find their info by following the "find your legislator" link to the right --->

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Update from Olympia

The Advocates showed up in force last Thursday for hearings in the Senate and House on the bills that would dedicate a portion of future lodging taxes to arts and heritage in King County. Almost 75 people attended the hearings and signed-in in support of the bills SB6661 and HB2912.

Many others sent emails to legisl
ators asking for support of these bills. We are waiting to hear whether these bills will be voted out of committee and passed along to the next stage in the approval process. We are hearing that HB2912 looks to be on track and may move ahead quickly. SB6661 is having more difficulty. It was passed out of the Senate Economic Development, Trade and Innovation Committee without a recommendation (bills can be given a “do-pass” recommendation; killed in committee; or moved without a recommendation).

February 2nd was Arts Day in Olympia and more than 175 people showed up to meet with legislators. Thanks to many friends of Advocate4Culture and the organizers, Washington State Arts Alliance for a productive day!

Reaction to the bills that support 4Culture and arts and heritage in King County, was generally positive. Many legislators expressed reluctance to support the bills as long as “publicly-owned stadiums” was included in the list of activities that King County would be allowed to fund when stadium bonds are retired. The list includes tourism promotion, youth sports fields or activities, community development authorities, performing arts centers, public health and human services, in addition to low income housing, which is specified in the two bills.

The 60-day legislative session is one-third over and there may be one more hearing in Olympia before the session ends. We may need to call on you one more time to make the trek! Until then, please write these legislators and ask them to support arts and heritage funding in King County

Photo by advocate, Scott Squire