When the City of Seattle and 4Culture, King County’s arts and heritage agency, announced earlier this year that they would hand out $500,000 in federal economic stimulus money to preserve jobs at cultural non-profits, most heritage organizations thought few if any of the dollars would ever reach them. That’s because eligibility requirements froze most of them out of the running.
The city has now handed out its $250,000 share of the stimulus package, and it appears that heritage groups have done better than expected. To qualify for a grant, groups had to be current recipients of money under the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs’ Civic Partners program, which helps groups pay operating expenses. In 2009, only 10 of the 133 organizations (7 percent) in the program came from the heritage sector, and they received just 4 percent, or $58,477, of $1,638,180 in grants.
. However, of the 22 stimulus money recipients, three are heritage groups: the Ethnic Heritage Council, the Center for Wooden Boats, and the Wing Luke Asian Museum. In dollar terms, the three groups received a total of $35,000, or 14 percent, of the city’s $250,000 pot. The $35,000 will preserve three jobs: an assistant director at EHC, an assistant boatwright at CWB, and a tour registrar at Wing Luke.
In the case of 4Culture, heritage groups’ fears came true: none of the agency’s $250,000 went to the heritage sector.
The grants have an immediate positive impact on the local economy. And there’s a long-term cultural benefit: Heritage organizations receiving the money are better equipped during tough times to preserve our past for future generations, since costs of buying and repairing old buildings are lower during real estate slumps.
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