County gives VAA second, smaller grant for arts center

Vashon Allied Arts has received a $10,000 grant from King County’s cultural arts organization for the construction of its proposed Vashon Center for the Arts.

VAA had sought $100,000 from 4Culture’s Arts Facilities Capital Program to help fund its $16.5 million center, a 20,000-square-foot project slated to be built next to The Blue Heron.

In 2009, the same program awarded VAA $75,000 for the new facility.

Molly Reed, VAA’s executive director, said the organization sought a $100,000 grant this time around after consultation with 4Culture officials.

“I think when they recommended that to me they didn’t realize how small their budget would be,” Reed said.

Debra Twersky, who administers the arts facilities capital program for 4Culture, agreed that funds were limited, in part because a decision was made to pool applications involving large-scale projects from both arts and cultural heritage facilities in this year’s granting cycle.

In total, 4Culture doled out $970,000 to 37 cultural facility projects, including VAA and the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association, which received $40,000 from 4Culture.

“The panel felt like they wanted to continue their support of VAA’s project, but they were just out of dollars,” Twersky said. “The other factor that affected them was that (VAA’s) project is not under construction right now. The panel had a sense that Vashon Allied Arts could come back to them, and should come back to them, as the project goes further along and is closer to breaking ground.”

For years, a portion of the county’s lodging tax revenues has funded 4Culture, including its recent grants to VAA and Vashon’s heritage association.

That funding formula is about to change, though. From 2012 to 2020, 4Culture will be removed from the lodging tax stream, and those funds will be redirected to pay off Qwest Field’s bonds. This means that until 2021, 4Culture’s operating funds will come from its approximately $42 million dollar reserve.

Reed, meanwhile, said VAA continues to fundraise for the $16.5 million arts center; she said she expects to be able to announce additional significant individual donations soon.

“We are making progress on the fundraising front. Good things are happening,” she said. “We still hope we can break ground this spring, but we have a long way to go to be able to do that.”

She also said the organization plans to seek funds from 4Culture in the next round of funding.

“The competition for these dollars is fierce,” she said. “We’ll go back and ask for more in the next cycle.”


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