A bill introduced Tuesday would consolidate several arts, heritage, cultural and promotional departments of state government into a new Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture. Introduced by Rep. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, the bill aims to increase coordination among cultural programs and save money by consolidating back-office functions for a number of small agencies.
“Currently, arts and heritage programs are small and scattered across many different agencies and highly vulnerable to budget cutting,” Darneille said. “This proposal brings together programs with similar pursuits that are now placed in agencies as diverse as the Department of Commerce and the Office of the Secretary of State.”
House Bill 2033 brings the following programs and small agencies under the umbrella of the cabinet-level Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture:
- The Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
- The Washington Legacy Project
- The Washington State Historical Societies and museums in Tacoma and Spokane
- The State Library
- The oral history programs of the Secretary of State and the Legislature
- The Washington State Arts Commission
- Film and video promotion activities
- The Washington Tourism Commission
“These programs are inextricably linked by common cultural pursuits,” Darneille said. “Drawing them into one agency structure will increase opportunities for collaboration and efficiency among them, and increase their visibility and recognition within state government.”
The bill is estimated to reduce dependence for these programs on the state General Fund by utilizing the Heritage Fund and reducing overall administrative and operating expenses of these programs and agencies. The department’s director would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
More information is available here.