A Cultural Access Program is a publicly funded program established to expand access to cultural organizations such as arts, heritage and science organizations.

There are currently several states that have adopted legislation authorizing the use of special tax districts. St. Louis, Missouri established the first such district in 1969, using its funds to support the art museum, the zoo and the museum of science. Since 1988, the seven-county Denver, Colorado metropolitan area has distributed approximately $40 million annually to scientific and cultural organizations through the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

The Washington State legislature has granted local governments the authority to create a Cultural Access Program in their County. Revenue raised from a sales tax (or property tax in Counties other than King), is used to strengthen access to cultural, science, and heritage organizations and their activities, as well as enhance citizens' participation in their cultural events and programs.

Read the ESHB 2263 Bill Summary.

Read the Law ESHB 2263


  • Grants an individual county the ability to create a Cultural Access Program.
  • Authorizes a county to place a measure on the county ballot for citizens to create and fund a Cultural Access Program.
  • Provides revenue to the Cultural Access Fund Program through a voter approved tax, either a .1% increase in sales tax or a similarly sized property tax increase. King county is restricted to the sales tax option alone.
  • Cultural Organizations eligible to receive funds must be 501(c)(3) or state-designated nonprofit organizations and/or "accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums" or a community preservation and development authority formed before January 1, 2011.
  • Cultural Access Funds would be used to:
    • Fund cultural organizations and expand cultural experiences for K-12 students, leverage in-school education, and fund transportation for students to cultural, scientific, and heritage organizations.
    • In King County - Fund regional cultural organizations whose budgets are larger than $1.25 million at levels not more than 15% of operating budget and award grants to community organizations whose budgets are less than $1.25 million.
  • Funds are distributed at the local level (i.e., county agency, community foundation, main street foundation, local arts commission or Washington State Arts Commission).
  • In King County, funds will be distributed by 4Culture.  Read the 4Culture Cultural Access Program (CAP) Brochure


Access to cultural experiences strengthens communities and individuals. Communities and regions that are home to vibrant cultural organizations are more competitive for attracting high quality workers, higher paying jobs and developing a stronger and more vibrant economy and greater prosperity.

Studies show that students who are engaged in cultural activities excel in school and are more comfortable working in diverse communities. Federal law reflects this fact; the No Child Left Behind Act provides equal billing to science, arts, math and reading disciplines. The established policy however does not reflect funding for this access. Schools are struggling to maintain access to cultural experiences vital to learning. (Critical Evidence, How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement, Sandra Ruppert, 2006)

Beginning in 2006 and published in 2012, the Puget Sound Regional Council developed a plan titled the PSRC Prosperity Partnership Plan (reference page 53). The plan identified the need to develop a strategy to promote scientific and cultural organizations as a strategic economic advantage for our region. They recognized the need to invest in cultural access and organizations to help educate our future workers, to attract new industries, and to compete for intellectual talent. 

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