Cultural Access Washington Program 2015 Legislation Summary 
SHB2263 Signed into Law July 6, 2015


  • To allow creation of a local program that will have public and educational benefits and provide economic support for cultural organizations throughout the state
  • Create the potential to address communities' diminished access to cultural experiences and/or education programs for K-12 students in public schools
  • Cultural organizations could include: heritage facilities, children’s museums, science centers, fine arts, zoos, aquariums, theaters, art museums, and performing arts
  • Examples of what the publicly approved funding could be used for:
    • reduced or free admission
    • providing education experiences at an organization’s facilities or in the schools
    • expanding opportunities for diverse and underserved populations and communities
    • creating experiences outside an organization’s own facilities
    • increasing public access through technology
    • building capacity of community based organizations including capital needs


  • Any County in Washington State may choose to create a Cultural Access Program
  • Should a County decline to create a Cultural Access Program, a city within that County may create such a program implemented within city boundaries

Vote of the people

  • Initial imposition of the funding mechanism requires approval by a majority of voters in the proposed jurisdiction (County or City)
  • Tax expires after 7 years unless reauthorized by a vote of the people

Funding sources

  • Enables a county to propose to voters a modest increase in the sales tax or equivalent amount in property tax (except in King Co.) dedicated to support a cultural access program
  • This legislation does not impose a new tax; it enables a county to create the program and place it on the ballot to allow voters to decide if they choose to fund it or not
    • Counties may decide which form of funding mechanism to impose (sales or property tax) except for King County which is limited solely to a sales tax increase
    • Counties may form a program under an interlocal agreement
    • Funds may not replace or materially diminish any funding usually or customarily provided by the state for state-related cultural organizations

Limitations on funding mechanism

  • Sales tax increase is capped at 0.1%
  • Property tax is limited to an amount that equals the equivalent of  0.1% sales tax
  • Property tax increase is subject to reduction if total of property taxes would otherwise exceed statutory limits

Potential options for City cultural access program

  • A city can create a cultural access program subject to the same limitations as a county,if:
    • the relevant county declines its authority to create a program by resolution,or
    • the county does not place a proposition before the people by June 30,2017

Use of funds

  • Counties (other than King County) are given broad discretion to define programs, but they must include a public school access program
  • Funding allocation rules for counties with less than 1.5 million population
    • County sets percentage for public school cultural access program
    • Pay start-up fees and admin costs (to be disclosed in ballot measure)
    • Remainder to “designated entity” for distribution to cultural organizations per county- established guidelines (funds can be used for capital expenditures, including real property acquisition)
  • Funding allocation rules for counties with 1.5 million population or greater
    • Pay start-up fees and admin costs (up to 1.25% per year for admin costs) of “designated entity” responsible for Cultural Access Program grants & compliance
    • 10% of remaining funds allocated to public school accessprogram.  Additional funds (up to an additional 2%) may be allocated in subsequent years to support student transportation costs
    • 70% of remaining funds to regional cultural organizations located in the county (regional means “substantial” with broad-based membership and annual revenues greater than $1.25 million)
      • Ranking formula (attendance and revenue components) determines funding to each Regional Organization with attendance weighted twice as heavily as revenue
      • Annual funding is capped at 15% of organizations annual revenues
      • Restriction against capital expenditures
      • Must participate in public school access program
      • Not less than 20% of funds must be allocated to public school access
      • Annual reporting requirements
    • Up to 8% of remaining funds allocated to administrative expense of a “designated public agency,” who will be responsible for grants of all remaining funds to community- based cultural organizations (funds can be used for capital expenditures, including real property acquisition); the funds for community based organizations will be about 28% of the total funds awarded.



Paid for by Inspire Washington, P.O. Box 806, Seattle, WA 98111