On Monday, March 19, the King County Council approved legislation that will provide enhanced oversight of 4Culture, the county’s cultural services agency.
The final vote on Ordinance 2018-0086 was 6-3, with Councilmembers Upthegrove, Gossett, Dembowski, Dunn, Lambert and von Reichbauer voting in favor, and Councilmembers Kohl-Welles, McDermott and Balducci voting against.
4Culture is operated by a 15-member Board of Directors who are currently nominated by 4Culture, appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the Council. The Board of Directors appoint the Executive Director of the agency.
The adopted ordinance will give King County citizens, through their elected officials, greater oversight in several areas:
- Budget: 4Culture would still be responsible for the fiscal management of the agency such as approving contracts, large expenditures, grant awards, and adopting a budget prior to Council review. The legislation makes the Council responsible for approving 4Culture’s budget prior to the County transferring funds to 4Culture for the following year.
- 4Culture Board: The ordinance calls for future members to be appointed by the County Executive and the Council—with the Executive appointing 6 Board Directors and the Council appointing the remaining 9 Board Directors by Council district. The Executive and Councilmembers could ask the 4Culture Board to recommend nominees for appointment or could choose other qualified candidates. All 4Culture Board Directors would be confirmed by the County Council.
- 4Culture Executive Director: The 4Culture Board would continue to recruit, hire, and annually review the performance of the Executive Director, but the hiring of a new Executive Director would require appointment by the Executive and confirmation by the Council, which is similar to other agency directors.
- Task Force: The ordinance would also call for the establishment of a task force to conduct a community stakeholder process to be staffed by an independent consultant funded by King County and 4Culture.
However, some Councilmembers are unhappy with this – Jeanne Kohl Welles, Claudia Balducci and Joe McDermott released the following statement after today’s vote:
“We’re more than disappointed by today’s vote because this is a classic case of a ‘solution in search of a problem.’ It’s simply not necessary for the Council to micromanage an organization that has been nationally recognized for the work it has done on behalf of artists throughout the region.
“As we heard from representatives of diverse arts organizations today, and in past meetings and received in email, 4Culture has made great strides in recent years to increase equity in funding for historically underfunded arts and cultural institutions and artists. We should support 4Culture’s continued commitment to both geographic and ethnic diversity in the art and heritage programs it funds, not go backward by politicizing the way arts are funded in King County.
“Our goal is to continue working to ensure that there is an independent and objective voice directing the county’s cultural services agency and the projects that depend on 4Culture funding.”