Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, in partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACo), will present the 2016 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for County Arts Leadership to Dow Constantine of King County, Washington, on Sunday, July 24, 2016 at the NACo annual conference in Long Beach, California.
Constantine has been an avid supporter of arts and culture for his entire political career in King County, not just through words of support, but in actions that have enhanced the position of the arts and culture as a critical element of a healthy society, a key part of King County’s economic development strategy.
In June of 2015, Constantine announced a partnership between the county and 4Culture to back a $28 million bond—to 100 arts and cultural organizations—financed through future lodging taxes to support cultural capital projects in every corner of the county, to include new cultural facilities, as well as expanded, preserved, and improvements to existing ones. It is the largest investment in arts and culture ever undertaken by King County. The county and 4Culture further agreed to finance a $1 million investment in equity and inclusion to provide financial support to organizations of, by, and for people of color. The application process will begin in July of this year.
Constantine has served as the King County Executive since 2009, steadfastly believing that a measure of a region’s quality of life is the strength of its arts and heritage. He was re-elected as King County Executive in 2013 by the largest margin of victory ever recorded for the county’s highest elected office. Constantine had served in the state House of Representatives (1996-2000), the State Senate (2000-2002), and the King County Council (2002-2009). During his years on the county council, Dow was one of three county councilmembers who serve as liaisons to the 4Culture Board of Directors, a position he held until his election as County Executive in 2009.
Dow has also served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and is a committed preservationist, actively taking to the streets to save the Admiral Theatre, Mukai Farm and Garden, the First Methodist Church, and Alki Homestead—all historic structures threatened by real estate development.
While a student at the University of Washington, in addition to being student body president, Constantine was a DJ at the campus radio station KCMU, which in 2001 spun off to become the nationally known KEXP.
“As the son of an artist, I learned at a young age that art has the unique power to transcend languages, cultures, and history,” said Constantine. “Art allows us to view the world through the eyes of others, inspires social change, and creates shared experiences. I am honored to receive this prestigious award, and grateful for the work that Americans for the Arts does to support the artists who enrich our lives.”
“King County is extremely fortunate to have as its County Executive someone who understands the value and impact of the arts,” said Jim Kelly, Executive Director of 4Culture, the county’s cultural services agency. “Dow Constantine’s leadership on art and cultural issues, particularly in securing a long-term dedicated revenue source for arts and culture, will pay dividends to our community well beyond his service as King County’s Executive.”
“The arts are alive in exciting, expanded, and new ways in King County thanks to Dow Constantine,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Dow has embraced the power of the arts and recognized the important role that cultural experiences have in strengthening communities. I applaud him for his commitment and leadership worthy of this national recognition.”
The Public Leadership in the Arts Award for County Arts Leadership honors an elected county board or individual leader who has significantly advanced the arts in the communities they serve. Americans for the Arts established the award in 1999 to recognize the positive role county government leaders play in improving arts programs, increasing funding to the arts and making the arts accessible in their communities.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org