City’s arts commission secures 2020 grant allocations

For 2020, the arts commission be allocating $145,000 between three programs.

The Bellevue City Council approved several grant allocations to the city’s arts commission, which seeks to help support local artists and organizations in 2020.

The decision came during the council’s Dec. 9 meeting.

“Though arts funding may often fall to the end or in the margins of city business and city budget planning, we believe that the impact is real and tangible and extremely important,” said arts commission chair Paul Manfredi.

The funding allocations go to three programs under the tutelage of the commission: Eastside Arts Partnerships (EAP), Power Up Bellevue and Special Projects. The city has allocated annual funding (using money from the general fund) for art-related services and programs in Bellevue since 2001.

EAP helps with the operations of arts-focused nonprofits in the city. In 2020, allotment is going to 14 community partners (which comprises volunteer-based organizations such as the Bellevue Community Band and Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra) and 18 “pro” partners (made up of organizations with a paid staff like the Bellevue Arts Museum and the Seattle International Film Festival).

Community partners receive awards of as much as $5,000, with pro partners able to garner as much as $10,000.

Power Up Bellevue is a funding program that intends to assist organizations in building capacity. Special Projects concentrates on fostering specific artistic ventures that, according to a meeting agenda item, “fill in cultural gaps and inspire new forms of creative participation, particularly for under-served groups.”

Some 2019 milestones bolstered by grants, as invoked by Manfredi, include the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra’s winter concert, a festival put on by the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City organization and the Northwest Sound Men’s Chorus’ Sing! Sing! Sing! performance/education program.

“These three are wonderful organizations and grantees within our program, but I also think they speak well to the breadth of the types of arts organizations that we fund,” Manfredi said.

For 2020, the arts commission will be allocating $145,000 between the three programs. About $120,000 will be divided between the 32 nonprofit organizations within EAP; $10,000 will be given to four individuals and five nonprofits in Special Projects; and $15,000 will be equally split between three organizations under Power Up Bellevue.

An allocations committee encompassing three arts commissioners and two individuals who are involved with local arts selected the recipients. The subgroup received a total of 46 grant applications, according to Manfredi, and were selected based on creative engagement, public access and benefit for city residents and visitors, and organizational capacity and sustainability criteria.

According to meeting documents, artists and artist groups funded by the city will ultimately help serve about 1.6 million residents and visitors in 2020 through a combination of museum programs, performances, cultural festivals and arts education. He noted that this is a higher number than in previous years.

“This is a notable jump from 2019, where the number was somewhere in the neighborhood of 930,000,” he said. “If our goal is to increase capacity and to increase impact, we feel that we are making great strides in that respect.”

For the full conversation about the 2020 arts commission allocations, watch the Bellevue City Council meeting online ( For more background on the allocations, go to Manfredi’s presentation ( at the Dec. 9 meeting and the meeting agenda item (