Every day I witness the impact arts exercises in young people lives. A few weeks ago, in a restaurant with my family, a waitress who was serving different section of the room, walked towards my direction. She told me that she was one of my students years ago from an Arts Corps class I taught at an elementary school in Tukwila. She asked me to keep doing what I do because it changed her life. It’s been over a decade and her experience was still fresh in her mind. Arts Corps now reaches over 2,500 K-12 students in low-income communities, with a majority youth of color. Can you imagine how many young people are impacted every time a teaching artist enters their life?
I pleasantly served two terms at 4 Culture Advisory Committee, so I could better understand the bigger picture of King County Arts Organizations. During that time, conversations about arts coalition to bring arts funding to a different level just started.
Undoubtedly, Prop. 1 will support small arts organizations, which is why I will vote for this measure. However, I don’t feel good about larger organizations being allocated 70% after 1.25 percent to create an agency to oversee the funds. This is still unfair, to keep dedicating the small portion to small organizations, which will proportionally continue to struggle in capacity building, maintaining the quality of programs, and to even be able to decently pay our teaching artists, like other professionals, whom are financially appreciated for what they do. In addition, I am not a fan of regressive tax either, however, I completely trust and appreciate what 4 Culture has done for our arts community for all of these years. Although federal funds for arts is recently at the edge of a cliff, I am proud to witness that our community is bringing new possibilities to support arts.
I hope Prop. 1 can pass, and I want to make sure small organizations, which will bite only 28 percent of the total funds, know that the tax will only last for 7 years, and counties will need to ask voters to re-approve it. Saying so, I am proposing that small organizations are brought to the table for 7 years of planning with the agencies that will manage the funds, with elected officials, and with voters, all of whom are aiming for a fair “slice of the cake” as an implementation of the measure.
Eduardo Mendonça is the Director of Creative Youth Development at Arts Corps. A native of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Eduardo is a veteran master teaching artist that has been with Arts Corps since its inception. He is Artistic Director of the international performance ensemble, Show Brazil! and heads his own Kent-based company, Brazil Arts & Education DBA: Show Brazil Productions, which promotes Brazilian culture and provides Portuguese voice-over talent for voice overs and videos exported to Brazil. Eduardo is also Co-Founder and Co-Director for BrasilFest, the annual Brazilian festival part of the Festál sponsored by the City of Seattle. Eduardo feels fortunate to be part of Arts Corps’ past, present, and future and is confident and excited for what is in store.