King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed a $57 million emergency spending package that is expected to get a council vote on May 12.
The lion’s share, $33 million, would continue to fund isolation, treatment and recovery for COVID-19 patients, while an additional $16 million sends money to small businesses, homeless youth programs and arts and culture groups.
Of that $16 million, $8 million is set aside for tourism promotion. “We’re very concerned for the tourism industry,” Constantine said. “That generates many, many thousands of jobs in the region and was hit early and hard.”
4Culture, the county’s arts and advocacy organization, gets $2 million from the package.
In mid-March, 4Culture carved out $1 million from its budget for relief, but that hasn’t been enough. As of April 23, 790 individuals have applied for $1.39 million in relief, while 279 arts organizations are hoping for $1.84 million.
“The losses continue to mount for the individual cultural workers and organizations we support,” said Brian J. Carter, executive director of 4Culture. “It’s been staggering.”
The proposed $2 million to the agency comes as a relief. “We are excited and grateful that the King County executive understands and supports the value of culture to King County’s economy and community,” said 4Culture spokeswoman Christina DePaolo. “Supporting the cultural sector is an important economic and community development strategy.”
Another $2 million is designated to assist science and arts-education organizations, as well as live music venues. The music venues portion, Constantine said, will be administered by the county Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget (which is part of Constantine’s executive office) with help from Kate Becker, Constantine’s creative economy strategist.
“Our funding for music venues requires that they bring back their staffs,” Constantine said. “Part of the deal is to make sure the people, not just the organizations, will get through this.”
“I’m stoked, man,” said Steven Severin, an organizer of the Washington Nightlife Music Association, which represents 25-plus music venues around the state. “I’m stoked that the county is showing that they do understand our worth and that they care that we make it.”
Whatever slice of the $2 million allocation goes to music venues, Severin, who co-owns Neumos on Capitol Hill, said much more is needed. Regardless, he said, being recognized in Constantine’s proposal felt like a victory, and he hopes it will spur more aid from the private sector.
Other allocations in the proposal include $2 million in translation and technical support for small businesses applying for coronavirus relief grants, $1 million in community outreach funds for the Office of Equity and Social Justice, and $1 million for programs designed to serve youth experiencing homelessness.
Constantine’s most recent proposal comes behind $28.2 million in coronavirus-related funding unanimously approved by King County Council on March 10, which paid for the purchase of a vacant motel in Kent, as well as trailers or modular dorms on county-owned sites.
Council members have yet to weigh in on the most recent plan — they received the $57 million proposal on Thursday and will review it at a Committee of the Whole meeting on May 5.
Seattle Times music writer Michael Rietmulder contributed to this report.