For-profit

4Culture

Website:

www.4culture.org/

Location:

Seattle, WA

Type:

Government-owned Corporation

Executive Director:

Brian Carter

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4Culture is the cultural funding agency of King County, Washington. The agency distributes funds collected through taxes to artists and others through grants. In March 2018, the King County Council tightened its control over the agency by giving itself the power to hire the agency’s executive director and allowing each councilmember to appoint an agency board member from their district. 1

4Culture sponsored the left-of-center Social Justice Film Festival in Seattle, which screens movies and documentaries designed to promote left-of-center to far-left political and cultural views. 2

Background

In 1973, King County, Washington passed an ordinance that required one percent of the county’s construction budget to be used for acquiring artwork. The ordinance was one of the first in the nation and the first in Washington state to allocate a specific funding mechanism to promote the arts. The King County Arts Commission, which became 4Culture, used the funds to promote the arts in public throughout the county. 3

The agency is a public development authority, which makes it a government-owned corporation. 4

County Takeover

In March 2018, the King County Council passed an ordinance granting it more power over 4Culture. The ordinance gave the council the power to hire the agency’s executive director and allowed each councilmember to appoint a board member from their district. The council also required 4Culture to submit its budget for approval before transferring any county funds to the agency. Previously, 4Culture’s board had the sole authority to hire and fire its executive director and the power to approve its budget. 5

Supporters of the bill claimed it was necessary to ensure diverse geographical representation among both board membership and grant recipients. Opponents of the bill saw it as an attack on the agency’s independence. 6

Delay In Distributing Federal Funds

In September 2022, artists complained of delays by 4Culture in distributing funds awarded by the American Rescue Plan, a relief measure for the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A reported 86 small arts groups applied for the money in the fall of 2021 but had not received it by September 2022. 7

Support for Left-of-Center Advocacy

In November 2020, 4Culture opened its Arc Artist Fellowship which provide $12,000 awards to King County artists “who create work that challenges structures of power in the fight for social justice.” 8

The agency supported the Social Justice Film Festival in Seattle, Washington. The festival presented films from a left-of-center to far-left cultural and political viewpoint. 9

According to the Festival, it featured films on topics such as “incarceration, Indigenous futures, immigrant rights, the environment and sustainability, oppression, race and racism, gender equality, the arts and rights of expression and speech, animal rights, alternative lifestyles and economies, disenfranchisement, water and food insecurity, economic disparity, homelessness, exploitation, corruption, and more.” 10

The agency embraces the far-left view of “antiracism” and requires all job applicants to demonstrate their commitment to “racial equity” and “social justice.” The website also features a “land acknowledgment” and claims the agency is complicit in racist systems. The agency also complains about state law that forbids it from using race as a factor in contracting but it also claims it does take race into account when awarding grants. 11

Revenue Sources

Taxes collected by the King County, Washington government fund 4Culture. The county collects a lodging tax on hotels and motels and gives it to 4Culture which distributes the money through grants. 12

The county dedicates one percent of its construction budget to the acquisition of public artwork. 4Culture uses that money to place artwork in public places. 13

In 2023, the King County Council passed a 0.1% sales tax to fund “arts, heritage, science, and preservation non-profit organizations in King County,” and 4Culture oversees distributing the funds. 14

Leadership

4Culture’s executive director is Brian J. Carter. He was previously the president of the Association of African-American Museums. 15

Eugenia Woo is the president of the board of directors. She is Historic Seattle’s director of preservation services. 16

References

  1.  Giordano, Lizz. “King County Council Takes Control of 4culture.” Cascade PBS News, March 20, 2018. https://crosscut.com/2018/03/king-county-council-takes-control-4culture.
  2. Social Justice Film Festival. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.socialjusticefilmfestival.org/.
  3. “50 Years: Exploring the Ever-Growing King County Public Art Collection.” 4Culture, April 26, 2023. https://www.4culture.org/50-years-exploring-the-ever-growing-king-county-public-art-collection/.
  4. Giordano, Lizz. “King County Council Takes Control of 4culture.” Cascade PBS News, March 20, 2018. https://crosscut.com/2018/03/king-county-council-takes-control-4culture.
  5. Giordano, Lizz. “King County Council Takes Control of 4culture.” Cascade PBS News, March 20, 2018. https://crosscut.com/2018/03/king-county-council-takes-control-4culture.
  6. Giordano, Lizz. “King County Council Takes Control of 4culture.” Cascade PBS News, March 20, 2018. https://crosscut.com/2018/03/king-county-council-takes-control-4culture.
  7. Vansynghel , Margo. “Grant Delays Leave King County Arts Organizations in Monthslong Limbo.” Cascade PBS News, September 8, 2022. https://crosscut.com/culture/2022/09/grant-delays-leave-king-county-arts-organizations-monthslong-limbo.
  8. Schaefer, Scott. “4culture Opens Arc Artist Fellowship for Social Justice; Deadline Is Dec. 2.” The B-Town (Burien) Blog, November 20, 2020. https://b-townblog.com/4culture-opens-arc-artist-fellowship-for-social-justice-deadline-is-dec-2/.
  9. Social Justice Film Festival. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.socialjusticefilmfestival.org/.
  10.  “Social Justice Film Festival.” FilmFreeway. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://filmfreeway.com/SocialJusticeFilmFestival.
  11. “Racial Equity at 4culture.” 4Culture. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.4culture.org/about-4culture/racial-equity-at-4culture/.
  12.  “Revenue Sources.” 4Culture. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.4culture.org/about-4culture/revenue-sources/.
  13. “Revenue Sources.” 4Culture. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.4culture.org/about-4culture/revenue-sources/.
  14. “Revenue Sources.” 4Culture. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.4culture.org/about-4culture/revenue-sources/.
  15. Phillips, Vivian. “Brian Carter – Cultivating a Culture of Care.” ARTE NOIR, February 14, 2024. https://www.artenoir.org/post/brian-carter-cultivating-a-culture-of-care.
  16. “Board + Advisory Committees.” 4Culture. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.4culture.org/about-4culture/board-advisory-committees/.
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4Culture

101 Prefontaine Pl S
Seattle, WA