Cherry Cayabyab, owner and principal of KAYA Strategy, presented the council with the results of the cross cultural study. KAYA Strategy was contracted to conduct the study in 2018.
Cayabyab said the study was conducted from February to August of 2018 through several public engagement methods in order to assess the existing programming and how it is used.
Through large events and small public forums, residents were asked their opinions on cultural programming, resources and structure in the city. On June 30, more than 100 people attended a cultural conversation event designed to take feedback at Bellevue Community College.
A survey was also conducted to examine which specific programs residents are utilizing, where people are using the resources, and what other spaces are people looking at to engage with diversity in their community.
KAYA Strategy also contracted with seven community liaisons to act as a bridge to groups in the city. With the liaisons they directly accessed residents who may have a language barrier preventing them from participating or would be inaccessible otherwise. The seven liaisons came from the disability, youth, LGBT, Latino, Muslim, Chinese, and South Asian Indian communities.
The liaisons are residents as well and are seen as leaders within their own communities, Cayabyab said. They worked on conducting the focus groups, doing outreach work, and even translating survey responses.
Cayabyab also worked with the Bellevue Diversity Advisory Network, who she said were critical in helping coordinate the work that went into the outreach effort.
The study found residents do utilize Bellevue’s cultural programming and they like it, but it isn’t enough. Not only do people want to see more, but there is interest in community-led programs as well.
“Bellevue residents are very active and wanting to engage and wanting to share their resources. There is a demand for that,” she said. “There is a preference for community leading and coordinating their own activities and if the city could support and help sponsor.”
The other findings show challenges in terms of accessibility, not just transportation related but inclusion-based as well.
“There were some events that parents or families would love to attend, but they are not able to because they have children and they have to be at home or there is no child care,” Cayabyab said. “…if these events or engagements were more multi-generational, and family oriented, and involved the different generations, that’s something that can be accessed and be attended.”
Other challenges included time of day and week. A number of respondents were limited by work and were not able to attended daytime programs. Cost and affordability of programs was brought up as well.
Specifically the cost and accessibility of space by cultural nonprofits was cited as an ongoing problem. Either locations are booked, or are too expensive for what the cultural groups can afford.
The council was supportive of the work being done so far and gave the city staff and consultant direction to pursue the recommended next steps. Phase two of the study will surround capacity of the spaces to serve the programming. Potential spaces would include Bellevue properties as well as other organizations’ buildings in the city that could be made available for programs.