Ballet performers at the Bellevue Arts Museum ArtsFair. Courtesy photo

Ballet performers at the Bellevue Arts Museum ArtsFair. Courtesy photo

Bellevue City Council directs $1 million to arts and culture fund

$200,000 annually over 5 years

Bellevue has its annual arts fairs each summer.

There’s the Bellevue Arts Museum, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the youth theatre, dance classes, art classes, galleries and that’s just scratching the surface.

And with a directed $1 million spread out over five years, the Bellevue City Council has made a statement: the city values its arts and culture.

The council voted Monday to take the money, which comes from the council’s contingency fund of $1.5 million collected over seven years, and set up an arts and culture fund through a new project in the 2017-23 Capital Investment Program plan.

From 2018-22, $200,000 will be put into the arts and culture fund. Just how those funds will be used, however, is yet to be determined.

During a public hearing for the Capital Investment Program and mid-biennium budget, representatives from the Bellevue Arts Museum, KidsQuest and the Pacific Northwest Ballet requested the council consider their needs when making a decision on how the funds would be allocated.

Mitch Smith, who is president-elect of the Bellevue Arts Museum board, thanked the city for its continued support in past years and asked if it would consider a $100,000 grant in 2018.

“Why? Impact, impact, impact,” Smith said. “Your investment in BAM will enable the museum to become an even greater asset to the community while raising its value as a regional attraction.”

Smith said the museum presented its strategic plan in 2016 and this year, they delivered. The plan, coupled with the hiring of Ben Heywood as new executive director, has put the museum in good financial shape as they are positioned to “be in the black month to month.”

However, in 2018, the museum will launch its $10 million fundraising campaign to “secure endowment for long-term financial success,” Smith said.

Executive Director of KidsQuest Putter Bert asked the city for $500,000 for their capital campaign. KidsQuest moved to its Downtown location from Factoria in January. In the move, they donated their water exhibit to a kids museum in Central America.

And Ellen Walker, who is the executive director of Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Francia Russell Center, requested $500,000 to help cover the building costs of the $12.5 million Francia Russell Center, which opened in September. Their new facility is “thriving” with 670 students currently enrolled, Walker said.

The council directed staff to come back in 2018 with more information on the requests. Each request will need to follow the city’s 2006 guiding principles for investment in cultural arts. These include whether the program has a sustainable long-term financial model, including strong private sector financial commitment, a defined public benefit, city involvement in financial oversight and must be in a facility or support for the operation of a facility.

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