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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Museum of Arts and Culture

Condon will take oath at Clocktower, Stuckart at MAC

Mayor-elect David Condon will take the oath of office in front of the Riverfront Park clocktower at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 30, the city announced this morning in a news release.

A reception will follow in the Carrousel.

Council President-elect Ben Stuckart will take his oath on Dec. 28 at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, where he serves on the board.

Council members-elect Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori will take their oaths at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 29 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

None of the new city officials will officially take office until midnight on Jan. 1, but under state law they must take the oath of office within 10 days prior to that time.

House Panel: Use Heritage money for MAC

OLYMPIA — A House panel voted narrowly this morning to combine several arts and heritage programs into one “mega-agency” and provide money for the Museum of Arts and Culture from a fund set up for a planned Heritage Center in Olympia.

On a 6-5 vote, the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee approved HB 2033, a bill that creates a Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture from an array of existing programs. It would place two state historical societies in the new department, as well as the MAC and the State History Museum in Tacoma, as well as the Heritage Center and a fund created from a special fee on documents filed with county auditors.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget proposes cutting funding for those two museums so significantly that the two facilities will be closed to the public and only have enough staff to maintain their collections. The House Democrats' budget proposal keeps the museums open by tapping the Heritage Center fund.

Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, said the bill represented one of the tough choices facing the Legislature: “We have to choose between our existing agencies and museums or look to something new.” It would change the Heritage Center fund to a heritage fund that maintains existing museums and arts programs across the state.

Republicans on the panel objected. “We're creating a new agency when reforms should be going the  other direction,” Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia said. When the House GOP introduces its alternative budget later today, it will propose a way to keep the Spokane and Tacoma museums open without tapping the Heritage Center money, he added.

One Democrat objected, too. Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal, said the bill merely rearranges the agencies rather than focusing on processes and people. “Setting up a new department just doesn't send the right message to the public,” he said.

Employees of the new department would remain members of their current collective bargaining units and keep their contracts. Republicans lost on an amendment that would have cancelled the current agreements and required what Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, called “a clean look at those contracts.”

For more on the committee action on bills involving the 2012 presidential primary, the Public Disclosure Commission and the state printer services, go inside the blog.

WA Lege Day 82: Museum bill on hold

OLYMPIA — A plan to rearrange state cultural agencies and find money for the Museum of Arts and Culture is on hold today after a House committee couldn't be sure it had the votes to pass amendments for it.

Rep. Sam Hunt, chairman of the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee, banged his gavel and adjourned the early morning meeting as soon as legislators returned from a caucus on the bill and others on the panel's agenda. Among the Democratic members who make up the committee's majority, there weren't enough votes to pass the bills.

One of the panel members, Rep. Chris Hurst, was absent because of a death in the family, and another member whom he refused to name was opposed to any bill involving consolidation of state agencies. That left Hunt without the votes needed to pass the bills out of committee if Republican members all voted no.

“We'll wait until Chris Hurst gets back and see what happens,” Hunt said. “We'll just come back next week and see what  happens.”

The original version of the bill would have consolidated a series of state programs on arts, archeology, historic preservation, archives and the state library into a single “mega-agency”, the Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture. Among them would be the Eastern Washington State Historical Society, which operates the MAC in Browne's Addition, and the Washington State Historical Society, which operates the State History Museum in Tacoma. As part of the reorganization, money being collected on documents filed with county auditors and set asided for a new Heritage Center in Olympia could be tapped to pay for the two museums, which face substantial cutbacks of state money in the governor's proposed budget.

The bill, HB 2033,  faced significant criticism at a hearing Thursday. (To read about that hearing, click here.) This morning, a proposal to trim back the bill, and keep many of the programs in their current agencies or departments was introduced, but funding for the two museums remained.

The panel went into caucuses, separate meetings by each party to take the temperature of members on the bills. About 20 minutes later, Hunt came back and announced “Meeting's adjourned.”

Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, said later she supports the consolidation as a way to save money and address the public's demand to cut costs. Although Friday is a deadline for most bills to get out of committee, this one is exempt because it would be necessary to implement the budget if it is part of the House spending plan expected to be released earlyl next week.

WA Lege Day 81: Plan to save MAC draws heavy opposition

OLYMPIA — Hearings started early today, with the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee holding a packed-room session on the plan to save museums in Spokane and Tacoma by creating a mega-agency for arts and culture.

Elswewhere in the Legislature, the Senate has a long list of bills — mostly uncontroversial — queued up for a vote. The House Ways and Means Committees has a list of bills that it must decide whether to send to the floor, and that list has some more controversial subjects, like medical marijuana rules, a health benefit exchange and changes to the GET program.

In the early morning State Government Committee hearing, HB 2033 was heavily criticized, with opponents who included state librarians, organizations ,that represent the blind and Secretary of State Sam Reed, as the wrong solution for a recognizable problem of not enough state funding for arts and culture programs.

The bill would combine state agencies that oversee archeology, historic preservation, heritage, the historical societies, the state library and others into a single Department of Arts and Culture. Among them would be the Eastern Washington State Historical Society, which operates the Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, and the  Washington State Historical Society, which operates the State History Museum in Tacoma. Both museums lose most of their state funding in the budget proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

To come up with money to keep the museums open, as well as other arts and culture programs also facing major cuts, the proposal would take money currently being raised by fees on documents filed at county auditors offices, and put it under the control of the new mega agency. By funding the museums, however, the state would delay, or possibly eliminate, the planned state Heritage Center in Olympia.

Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, the bill's sponsor, looked out over the packed crowd and admitted it was tough to be in front of “an audience of people who hate you.” But desperate budget times call for unusual measures, she said.

“There are such significatn cuts that there are people on this dias who don't know why we even keep the arts,” Darnielle said.

Reed, whose office would lose the state library and the planned Heritage Center in Olympia, agreed proposed budget cuts spell trouble for arts and culture programs. But Darnielle's plan shifts money around and creates a mega-agency: “It is a bad idea.”

The plan was also criticized by members of the state's blind community, who wanted to protect the state's Braille and talking book program. “With all due respect, this legislation reeks of spin,” said Mike Freeman of the state chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.

Librarians opposed folding the state library into a mega agency. Tribal representatives had concerns of putting the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation, which has regulatory authority over tribal archeological sites, into the arts agency.

Some members of the arts community were supportive, as were representatives of Spokane and Tacoma, which would have major museums closed to the public under the governor's spending plan.

Al Aldrich, lobbyist for the city of Spokane, said the city supports the proposal: “it may be the perfect answer…but it is a good answer. Shutting down the MAC is not a good answer.”

The committee is scheduled to vote on whether to move the proposal to the Ways and Means panel on Friday. Even if it passes the House, however, the bill may founder in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, has already said the Senate is trying to find a way to fund the MAC and the State History Museum in Tacoma through the general operating fund budget and does not support tapping the money set aside for the Heritage Center.

Brown: Senate looking for other way to save MAC

OLYMPIA — Fans of Spokane's Museum of Arts and Culture who were cheered by news the House may tap a special fund to keep the MAC open should be warned: The Senate isn't wild about the idea.

As reported Thursday, the House has a new bill that would take money from a fund set up build a Heritage Center in Olympia to keep open the MAC and the State History Museum in Tacoma. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for 8 a.m. next Thursday in the House State Government Committee.

But Senate Majority Lisa Brown, whose district includes the MAC, said Friday if the bill gets out of the House it could run into trouble in the Senate: “We want to come up with a source of funding. We don't want to go down that road.”

The Senate hopes to find money for the MAC and the Tacoma museum in the general operating fund budget, Brown said.

WA Lege Day 74: Plan to keep MAC open surfaces

OLYMPIA — A proposal that would keep the Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane and the State History Museum in Tacoma open, by taking money from a fund to build a Heritage Center in Olympia, was introduced today in the House.

Supported by Spokane Reps. Andy Billig, Kevin Parker and Timm Ormsby, as well as members from the Tacoma area and even Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, the plan also creates a state Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture, which would oversee the three facilities.

“Rather than saving for a new museum, we're going to save two excellent museums we already have,” Billig said Thursday. “Ideally we would do it all, but we're not in ideal conditions.”

Secretary of State Sam Reed is not a fan. “It's like killing one institution to save two others.” Finding money for the two museums is “vitally important” but taking money for the Heritage Center — which would primarily be a home for the state archives and state library, and with display space but not a full-blown museum — is the wrong way to do it, he said….

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Brown: Lege might keep museums open

OLYMPIA — The Legislature may find a way to keep the Museum of Arts and Culture and the state museum in Tacoma open, despite Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposal to close them because of budget problems.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said today a coalition of Spokane and Tacoma legislators is working on a strategy to reduce state support over time,  but provide a “bridge” of state money while the museums look for financial support elsewhere.

For the MAC, Brown said, a possible source of funding would be the region's tribes because the museum has an extensive collection of Native American artifacts.

The Washington State Historical Society operates the museum in Tacoma and the separate  Eastern Washington State Historical Society operates the MAC. In 2008, Gregoire tried unsuccessfully to merge the two societies; the proposal wasn't introduced in the Senate.

Brown said Thursday she didn't see a merger as part of conditions for the Legislature keeping money in the budget.

The two societies serve different areas and seem to work better as separate entities, she said.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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