A Cultural Convergence: Arts, Heritage and Science Day  Feb 5, 2020 Olympia, WA

Together we are powerful!

On March 12th, Washington lawmakers convened their 60 day legislative session for 2020. Throughout this annual period for policy-making and budget appropriation, Inspire Washington focused their lobbyists and grassroots advocates on a broad cultural agenda to support arts, heritage, and science programming and organizations across the state.

This year’s comprehensive list of requests and legislation was a collaborative effort. Some items were championed by our statewide partners while other issues and opportunities were born out of Inspire Washington’s objective for statewide cultural equity. On February 5th advocates converged at the state capital for our annual, cultural advocacy day. Over 60 meetings were held with district senators and representatives to discuss requests and explore opportunities within their communities. We are excited to report that nearly every issue on the list reached goal. Following is a review of the items and the final outcomes.


• Building for the Arts – House Bill 2352

Proponent: ArtsFund

The request : Please support HB 2352 to increase state support and reduce fundraising match requirements for the Building for the Arts program.

The result : The bill was approved by the House but did not make it out of the Senate. Budget writers were asked to include requested changes to the program in the budget, which will be good for the next fiscal year. Changes included: reducing the required project match from 4:1 to 2:1, and increase the overall cap of the program to $16M from $12M. Permanent changes will be championed in a future legislative session.

• Cultural Access Program – Senate Bill 5792

Proponent: Inspire Washington

The request : Please support SB 5792 to amend the Cultural Access legislation by making statutory requirements and policies for cultural access programs the same in all counties of the state.

The result : The bill had strong support from the King County delegation as well as lawmakers from across the state. Roll call was 44 –1-3 in the Senate and 80 – 17-1 in the House. The bill was signed into law by the Governor on April 3, 2020.

• Certified Creative Districts

Proponent: ArtsWA

The request : Increase funding to ArtsWA’s Certified Creative District Program by providing $618,000 from the Capital Budget.

The result : The legislature appropriated $200,000 to fund capital projects for a number of WA’s Certified Creative Districts, to be determined over the coming months. Certified Creative Districts has been a popular state program, receiving support in subsequent legislative sessions.

• Art in Public Places, Conservation of the Yakima SunDome

Proponent: ArtsWA

The request : Please provide $97,000 from the Capital Budget to restore this iconic public artwork.

The result : The legislature appropriated $80,000 to evaluate and plan the Yakima SunDome repair project. The funding will help ArtsWA determine how much it will cost to replace thousands of the reflectors that make up artist Dick Elliott’s “Circle of Light” around the Yakima SunDome.

WA Filmworks

No request this year. Shared the success of Local Lens, the country’s first film incentive program that reserves its funding exclusively for local projects.


• Equitable Arts Access

Proponent: ArtsEd Washington

• Equitable Funding

The request : Create an equitable funding system that targets resources based on student needs.

• Data Dashboard

The request : Fully fund a state-wide arts data dashboard.

• Arts Integration and Early Learning Program

The request : Support ArtsWA's Arts Integration and Early Learning Program.

The result : Conversations were started this session about the lack of clear data regarding arts education delivery statewide and the limited resources for students and schools. Legislators were educated on the King County Data Dashboard with a specific focus on the need for statewide expansion. Advocates amplified the League of Education Voter’s Equitable Funding ask as well as prepared legislators for ArtsWA’s Arts Integration and Early Learning Program ask for next year. These items will likely be pursued further next legislation session.


• Washington State Historical Societies – House Bill 2837

Proponent: Washington State Historical Society

The request : Please support HB 2837 / SB 6571 to expand the powers and authorities granted to state historical societies, allowing them to grant small grants for museums and other heritage related work.

The result : HB 2837 received unanimous support in both the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor on March 18th.

• Maritime WA National Heritage Area

Proponent: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

The request : Support the Governor’s Supplemental Budget request of a one-time allocation of $150,000 to develop a management plan. State funding will be used to match $150,000 in federal funds designed to get the Maritime WA National Heritage Area operational.

The result : Legislators on both side of the aisle understand the importance of heritage tourism, especially given the challenges the industry faces this year in light of the COVID-19 crisis. $150,000 for the Maritime WA NHA was included in the 2020 Supplemental Operating Budget. With hopes for the Maritime WA NHA to be a boost for heritage tourism while also preserving and recognizing our history, the Governor maintained this level of funding when he signed the budget into law on April 3rd.


• Washington Dept. Of Fish and Wildlife

The request : Please provide WDFW with $26 million to sustain conservation efforts for habitat and wildlife, the mission of our state’s many non-profit science organizations.

The result : The WDFW was included in the approved supplemental budget. COVID has impacted state revenues so a new budget will be approved during a state emergency legislative session in summer 2020. This budget negotiations will be monitored and additional advocacy may be needed.

• Reusable Bag Bill – Senate Bill 5323

The request : For the benefit of our wildlife and habitats, please support HB 5323 to reducing pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards for the use of bags at retail establishments.

The result : The Bill received strong support from both chambers. The House approved with yeas, 67; nays, 29; and excused, 2. The Senate approved with 33; nays, 15; and excused, 1. The Governor signed the Bill into law on March 25th.

Our general talking points about Washington’s Cultural Programming:

  • Washington State is rich with cultural activity. In our urban centers, suburban communities, and small towns and hamlets; arts, heritage, and science programs strengthen communities and lift-up the human spirit. Our cultural work has regional significance, national attention, and international acclaim.
  • The cultural sector is struggling. Rising costs for operations and shrinking revenues threaten our essential community-based work.
  • There is a lack of cultural equity in Washington. An individual or community’s access to cultural programming is driven by where they live, their race, their education, and their income level, to name a few. We believe all children, families, and communities deserve equal access to cultural programming and opportunities and systemic change is needed to address inequities for historically under-resourced communities.
  • Washington's cultural sector and creative industries are a vital economic driver. Collectively, we represent 8.3% of the state’s GDP.
  • Washington ranks 45th in the nation for state investment in the arts, per capita.
  • There is no annual state funding for operational expenses related to heritage and science programming.
  • Washington can do much more to support arts and cultural programming to benefit local communities.
  • We want to partner with our local lawmakers to enrich their community’s cultural programming.