4Culture is the cultural funding agency for King County, Washington. Using public resources, they implement projects in four core program areas: arts, heritage, historic preservation, and public art.
4Culture is a municipal corporation that was chartered by King County government, it operates independently, and is governed by a 15 member board of directors. 4Culture is responsible for the distribution of the allocated funds from the Lodging Tax for granting to art and culture initiatives in King County, as well as implementing the county’s percent for art program.
King County Government, Other King County Agencies, Various Project Partners.
The majority of funding for the department comes through the King County Lodging Tax. Often called a Hotel Motel Tax, this is a tax placed on the rental of hotel rooms. A percentage of this money is allocated around King County and used to invest back into the community. 4Culture receives some of this funding for arts and culture investment. Funding for public art comes through the King County percent for art program, using 1% of funding on capital projects for use in a public art program. 4Culture also offers consulting services which they earn revenue from, as well as receiving grant funding from various sources.
4Culture collaborates on projects with both private and public partners. On County projects, especially public art project, they work collaboratively with county agencies such as natural resources and parks, transportation, and the executive office. Collaboration is encouraged across all the county agencies. Partners can also include individual artists, arts organizations, and private developers and companies depending on the nature and need of the project.
4Culture supports arts regionally through providing grants, technical support, and services to individual artists, and arts organizations both large and small. In coordination with this, but through a separate program, they also implement the public art program regionally through the percent for art program. Projects in this program have a wide range of art practices.
On the cultural side, that is not directly art related, 4Culture supports heritage of the region through grants, technical assistance, and some initiatives to assist individuals and organizations focused on preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. They also support the public realm through historic preservation in collaboration with the County’s Historic Preservation Program by offering programs and support of historic preservation efforts.
4Culture has been very successful as a regional art and culture agency and completed impressive works. As they have worked they strived to find meaningful ways to engage the community and artists to give all aspects of the artistic process value and not just the final product. Thinking about how to foster art and cultural projects that are embedded into the community rather than imposed upon them. The following are some highlights of successful projects:
- Creative Justice – A pilot program to deliver arts based alternatives to youth incarceration. This program is in collaboration with the prosecuting attorney’s office as well as the juvenile court system. 4Culture is managing this pilot for 3 years and working on its structure so that it can eventually branch off to become its own non-profit can be embedded in the juvenile court system.
- Poetry on Busses – In order to provide programming and support to all communities in King County, this art program provided poetry from local voices in very public shared spaces, busses. The poems of this program are now in 5 different languages an posted in busses throughout King County, as well as online. This program breaks down barriers of western/European art ideals being imposed upon the communities and allows for different voices in many languages to contribute to the community through art.
- Brightwater – A collaborative project over several years to facilitate a new waste water treatment plant that included public art, a community gathering space, an exhibition hall, and three miles of walking trails. Both inside the structures and out along the walking trails feature permanent and temporary public art works that highlight the science of water treatment processes, illuminate the history of the region, and reveal our role in the lifecycle of water.