Olympia looks to get a head start on figuring out how to spend its new arts tax


The Olympia Community Livability and Public Safety Committee will recommend to the city council the creation of an ad hoc committee to support the startup of the Inspire Olympia! Cultural Access Program, which aims to increase access to arts, culture, heritage, and science experiences throughout Olympia.

At the committee meeting held Wednesday, July 27, Historic Preservation officer Marygrace Goddu presented the next steps and options to determine how the program will move forward over the next two years.

In April, some 58% of Olympia voters approved the increase of retail tax by one-tenth of one percent (a penny on ten dollars of retail purchases) to fund arts and cultural programs.

Goddu said the committee has two options to recommend to the council: funding the program budget for 2022 and securing authorized staff positions or waiting for 2023 when the new tax collections begin.

She presented the timeline that explores the early start option versus waiting in January next year or even waiting until April, which is how long it will take to set up an advisory board for the cultural access program.

"The critical difference between early funding and waiting is about nine months, Goddu said.

Goddu said if the city council chooses to wait until the tax collection begins in January 2023, the authorized staff positions and program funding will start at that point. They would proceed with hiring for the program manager and program specialist beginning in January through March. "The implementation timeline would follow."

Goddu added that if the city council decides to move forward with an early start, the following action would be funding the 2022 program and authorizing staff positions. The subsequent work is the creation of the ad hoc committee.

"We feel it is essential to allow enough time for the public to understand what we are doing to communicate to them and have an extended opportunity for recruitment for full participation in that recruitment process. We want to ensure that we gather a strong pool of representative and diverse candidates that we are modeling the equity that we hope the program will promote," Goddu remarked.

Goddu reminded the committee members that the funding allocations are part of ballot measures – 10% on administration, 10% on transportation to enhance access to cultural programs, and 80% of the funding will go to community programs and organizations, including public schools program.

She said considerable work is needed to build a programming platform, including designing and getting into details on how to meet the program's goals and visions. "This includes the eligibility and criteria guidelines that 80% of the funding goes to community programs and organizations. We need to identify helpful, relevant, and equitable funding categories within that 80%. And we need to set reasonable standards for evaluating performance and measuring public benefits that are not barriers to participation."

The ad hoc committee will start framing the work, she said.

According to Goddu, the role of the ad hoc committee will be to develop recommendations for consideration by the future Cultural Access Program Advisory Board.

The members should be technically-oriented, experienced in granting, and knowledgeable about the nonprofit cultural sector.

"We are hoping that the committee would operate roughly from October through March and meet about twice a month. They would begin developing about the guidelines for the program, or begin the normal city process cycle for recruiting a permanent advisory committee which can proceed through the winter 2022 and spring of 2023," Goddu said.

"The city has the option to repay itself for programs startup costs, which is authorized in the enabling legislation," Goddu noted.


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  • Claire

    Hmmmmm. Tax and.then spend....on what?

    Tuesday, August 2 Report this

  • PlumberBob

    Don't you people ever get tired of giving you money away? What's next?

    Tuesday, August 2 Report this

  • Sk8sonh2o

    The chart outlines how the funds will be used to increase access to the arts in Olympia. 58% of the voters approved the expenditure. How about taking a wait and see approach to a plan that may enrich the Olympia experience for more people than it reached before?

    Thursday, August 4 Report this