City grants support arts programs

April 13, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

City dollars will be used to present art classes to teenagers, outdoor concerts and Village Theatre productions.

City Council members last week awarded $128,825 in municipal arts grants — less money to fewer organizations than the city presented last year. The council approved the grants April 5.

The city generates money for the grants though a 5 percent admissions tax on movie theaters and special events. Additional dollars for the program come through a program to steer one-half of 1 percent of the construction budget for city projects to the arts. The ticket tax raised $151,429 last year.

Village Theatre received the largest amount — $47,000 — for professional productions, children’s theater and the Village Originals program to develop new musicals. The nonprofit theater had requested a $60,000 grant.

Michelle Sanders, theater spokeswoman, said the city arts grant helps fund actors, designers and the dozens of behind-the-scenes workers responsible to put on a show. Sanders said the theater often utilizes local talent.

“That funding is critical,” she said.

The grant serves as a critical source because audiences expect high production values from Village Theatre, she said.

Other grants will support free Issaquah Chamber Orchestra concerts, the popular art docent program at Echo Glen Children’s Center and ArtWalk Issaquah, presented by the DownTown Issaquah Association. The organization received $15,787 to present ArtWalk.

The city Parks & Recreation Department received grants totaling $15,040 for the Concerts on the Green series, entertainment at the Issaquah Farmers Market and free art classes for students from grades sixth through 12.

The art program received a $668 grant. City Recreation Manager Brian Berntsen said past classes included lessons in acrylic painting, printmaking, T-shirt design and wire sculpture.

The city awarded $13,449 in grants to Salmon Days Festival organizers — dollars for the Rainier Boulevard Stage and the Festival Spectacle, a work created for Salmon Days and performed by local children.

Besides the Salmon Days grants, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce — the force behind the fish-centric festival — received a $3,095 grant to present a July 4 celebration.

The city Arts Commission received 22 grant applications from 18 organizations for the 2010 grants, and then reviewed the applications in February. Commissioners recommended 21 grants for City Council approval.

Council Services & Safety Committee members scrutinized the applications last month, before the grants reached the full council. Members raised concerns about grant money used to fund operations, and trimmed the award for artEAST from $10,662 to $9,000.

Commissioners dropped a request from the Sammamish Symphony Orchestra, because the organization did not include Issaquah events in the grant application.

The council distributed $137,000 in arts grants last April, including $2,500 for the Sammamish Symphony Orchestra.

“There was some concern that we were funding events that did not take place within Issaquah city limits or in an Issaquah School District school,” city Arts Coordinator Amy Dukes said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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