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.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Brian Tilley (left) and Katie Dearman work the wash station Friday at Kate’s Greek American Deli in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Governor’s no-mask, no-service order begins across Washington

“Just do not ring up the sale,” Gov. Jay Inslee said about customers who do not don the proper masks.

King County homeless count: 11,751 people, up 5 percent from 2019

One night a year, volunteers spread out across Seattle and King County… Continue reading

Free masks at the Bellevue Salvation Army. Courtesy photo
Free mask pickup for Bellevue residents

New dates and times for mask distribution this week

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Construction begins for Downtown Park entrance

The previously delayed entryway project is expected to be finished early 2021

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline. Courtesy image
Drug courts, officer de-escalation programs impacted by MIDD cuts

The fund provides money for mental illness and drug dependency programs across King County.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Most Read