On the anniversary of Benaroya Hall, I heard an interesting statistic that over 60% of the investment in Seattle Center (like the lovely Marion Oliver McCaw Hall) has come from private donors. Apparently, the new Seattle Center Century 21 plan assumes a similar level of support moving forward.
Many great civic projects have been driven by private citizens, both in dollars and vision. Supposedly, the original Seattle World’s Fair was cooked up by a bunch of rich guys at the WAC one day. The most recent prominent example in Seattle is probably Jon Shirley and the Olympic Sculpture Park.
Yet, we can’t just rely on individuals to guide our great cultural landmarks. Our state does a great job providing capital dollars for cultural institutions, but did you know that we’re 44th out of 50 states in per capita spending on state arts agency appropriations? That’s one of the reasons why finding a way to boost support for cultural organizations – particularly to increase access to these institutions by all our state’s residents – is one of the keys to our region’s continued prosperity.