I was one of those folks who mentally complained about the hospitality tax I paid when checking out of a hotel. Really, I always thought with a (very large) sigh. Then, in the course of my job as the director of the Dunn Gardens, I met 4Culture. And that was my personal Saul-to-Damascus experience. I now pay the tax with only minor flinching along with some hopes that I express below.
So, who or what is 4Culture, and how did something with a slightly odd name manage this transformation in one taxpayer? 4Culture is an entity that is supported, in part, by the mentioned hospitality tax. It is a tax-exempt Public Development Authority, an entity created by King County. Its mission is to provide public support for citizens and groups who preserve the heritage of the area and to create cultural opportunities for residents and visitors. You can find more at http://www.4culture.org.
How did 4Culture work its magic on me? Simply, the organization does what it is charged to do. Deftly, efficiently, and with grace. Dunn Gardens, as a historic entity, is eligible to
apply to 4Culture for grants to support its mission and preservation. Email the folks who manage these grants and you get an answer to your question immediately. Share a project before the writing of a grant and you get guidance as to its suitability. Recently a grant was awarded so we could install an irrigation system to maintain the Gardens. We have also been provided support through grants to establish an archive. In the case of the latter, 4Culture has provided ongoing guidance in support of an enterprise that is complex and confusing. We are realizing our goal of managing a collection effectively.
To take a broader view-what an organization like 4Culture does for the vibrancy of a county is impossible to quantify. It can be summed up, in some measure, in a quote attributed to Winston Churchill during WW 11. When he was urged to cut funding to the arts in support of the war effort he replied, “Then, what are we fighting for?”
Indeed. What would we be without Poetry on Buses, Storefront Galleries, the ballet, Swan Lake, agile circus acts and music. All of these endeavors, and more, are supported, in some fashion, by 4Culture through their support of the organizations that offer them.
I’m unashamedly biased, of course, but as the director of a historical garden I think that historical landscapes are something worth fighting for too. (We are pleased Historic Seattle agrees since they awarded us the award in 2015 for Preserving Historic Landscapes.)
So, now I pay my hospitality tax more cheerfully. Since I live in Seattle I don’t pay it locally. What I fervently hope when my credit card is being swiped in some hotel lobby is that the county collecting a hospitality tax is getting their money’s worth. The good citizens of King certainly are.