Rick Steves said his donation amounts to what he saved from tax breaks in the post-Clinton era.
Rick Steves, the Edmonds-based travel writer and public broadcasting host, donated $1 million to the Edmonds Center for the Arts on Thursday.
Steves said the money amounts to what he saved from tax breaks in the post-Clinton era. And he laid out a challenge for other high-income earners to support community institutions and to “speak out on the wisdom of rolling back the tax cuts for our wealthy.”
“I see it as a civic duty for businessmen like me, who’ve directly benefited from our vibrant communities, to do our fair share,” Steves said in a statement issued by his Edmonds company, Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door.
“Over the last decade, my tax burden has been decreased even as public funding for important local programs and institutions has been decimated — a trend I find alarming,” he said.
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He encouraged other wealthy people to fill the gaps and support arts centers, schools, parks, libraries and local symphonies.
Steves said a “false austerity is being forced on the finer points of our culture.”
“If you’re fortunate enough to be doing well these days, figure out what recent tax cuts have saved you, then donate that amount to a deserving cause that you believe in,” Steves said. “With my tax cut, I’m paying our orchestra’s rent. Imagine what, together, our community could do.”
Steves’ donation will support and expand the Edmonds Center for the Arts’ performances and community programs. A portion of the gift also will support the Edmonds’ Cascade Symphony Orchestra by underwriting all facility costs for the next 10 years.
To celebrate his donation, Steves said he will perform Rick Steves’ Europe: A Symphonic Journey with the Cascade Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 23 and 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. The concert, featuring work from some of Europe’s greatest composers, will be filmed for a national public TV special.