Thurston County’s Hidden Sector

Nonprofits would benefit from Proposition 1, “Inspire Olympia!”

Friday, April 15 is #WorldArtDay


I know the news can be a bit grim but as I look around, I still find many things that inspire me…The trees and flowers showing off their Spring best….the start of long warm sunny days…the art initiatives popping up during Art Month (this Friday, April 15 is #WorldArtDay and I for one think it is much better to celebrate that than Tax Day!) If you are wanting another way to feel inspired, look to Inspire Olympia!

Inspire Olympia!

According to its website, Inspire Olympia! (formally known as Proposition 1) would increase access to arts, culture, heritage, and science experiences throughout Olympia by reducing barriers to access. Eligible nonprofits would be invited to apply for funding to help them expand equitable access to public programs, increase opportunities in neighborhoods, expand educational options for youth, and build sustainability for ongoing cultural programs. 

Did someone mention taxes?

You might have seen The Olympian’s Sunday headline, “Sales tax hike would raise $2.3M a year for arts, more.” I suspect some think that if this initiative is approved, the citizens of Olympia will solely be responsible for individually contributing to raising these funds. Not so! Inspire Olympia! is a one-tenth of one percent sales tax increase (.001) for purchases made within the City of Olympia. This would be paid not just by citizens of Olympia but by anyone who pays a sales tax there on the items that they buy.

So, if you buy something worth $100 this would include 10 cents in additional sales tax.

Have you visited Tacoma lately? The City of Tacoma passed a similar initiative 3 years ago, which has already had an incredibly positive impact on their community. One of the results of their initiative is that several of the museums in Downtown Tacoma are FREE every Third Thursday of the month. My husband and I have taken advantage of that opportunity and, oh yeah, had dinner downtown as well thus contributing to Tacoma’s economy!

Olympia voter approval

While everyone in our region might benefit from this initiative, only Olympia voters will have the opportunity to approve Proposition 1 via a special election on April 26, 2022. If approved, the tax will be in place for seven years, at which point it would be resubmitted to  Olympia voters. 

Where would the money go?

Olympia’s proposed program would set aside 80% of all funds collected under this initiative for local nonprofit arts, science, culture, and heritage programs. The organizations would use funds to support cultural and educational activities, programs, and initiatives, public benefits and communications, and basic operations. 10 Reasons to Support the Arts

It should come as no surprise that I thoroughly approve of this initiative as it supports nonprofits. However, there are many reasons why supporting the arts is economically responsible and necessary to the well—being of our community. The following is a list of the Top 10 reasons to support the arts by Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research for Americans for the Arts.

  1. Arts unify communities. 72% of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity”.
  2. Arts improve individual well-being. 81% of the population says the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”
  3. Arts strengthen the economy. The nation’s arts and culture sectors an $876.7 billion industry that supports 4.6 million jobs (2020). That is 4.2% of the nation’s economy—a larger share of GDP than powerhouse sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and utilities.
  4. Arts drive tourism and revenue to local businessesThe nonprofit arts industry alone generates $166.3 billion in economic activity annually which supports 4.6 million jobs and generates $27.5 billion in government revenue. Arts attendees spend $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and lodging.
  5. Arts improve academic performance. Students engaged in the arts have higher GPAs, standardized test scores, and college-going rates as well as lower drop-out rates.
  6. Arts spark creativity and innovationCreativity is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders with 72% saying creativity is of “high importance” when hiring.
  7. Arts have social impact. University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates.
  8. Arts improve healthcare. Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and even staff. 78% deliver these programs because of their healing benefits to patients—shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication.
  9. Arts for the health and well-being of our military. The arts heal the mental, physical, and moral injuries of military service members who rank the creative arts therapies in the top four (out of 40) interventions and treatments.
  10. Arts strengthen mental health. The arts are an effective resource in reducing depression and anxiety and increasing life satisfaction.

What You Can Do

Whether you are a citizen of Olympia or not, you can still show your support by signing up to “Lit Drop” (drop off literature at homes in Olympia) as well as “Sign Wave” on the streets of Olympia. For more details contact the Campaign Manager Rob at or go to

Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits! 

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The opinions expressed above are those of Mary Beth Harrington and not necessarily of The JOLT News Organization or its staff or board of directors.  

Further, if you'd like to express your opinions, please write them up and send them to us, whether you oppose these comments or want to write about another topic (especially if you are focused on Lacey or Tumwater). If you've got questions about what would be acceptable, please call Danny Stusser on 360-357-1000 x1. 


2 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • JulesJames

    Opposed. Having read the ordinance, its an unstructured grab bag for politically-preferred pet projects. I'd support funds earmarked to renovate the Armory for the Arts. I'd support funds earmarked to convert a downtown block into a sculpture park. But this proposal is void of specifics beyond 10% for busing students to arts. Bluntly put: I don't want whatever the latest Wokeism we must all outrage over while wearing performance art blindfolds be paid for with government dollars. Love the arts. No love for this ballot measure.

    Tuesday, April 12 Report this

  • JWulgaru

    Olympia will shuffle millions to support transients and their associated crime without the voter's consent and then beg for more tax money for things like this art proposition. How about they serve the taxpayers by funding the arts first and then asking for a ballot initiative to support the transients?

    Because they know it would never pass. This is devious and disgusting behavior.

    Thursday, April 14 Report this