Expanding on efforts to support local cultural institutions, the City Council has approved a $500,000 grant for KidsQuest Children’s Museum. The grant will fund capital improvements to KidsQuest’s new home, making the popular community attraction more accessible for children with sensory processing conditions, such as autism, and other special needs.
In early 2017, KidsQuest moved from the Marketplace @ Factoria to a larger space at Northeast 12th Street and 108th Avenue Northeast near Ashwood Park and the Bellevue Library.
Transforming the building into a colorful, interactive place that encourages learning through play for kids under 10 years old required a considerable initial capital investment from the city, county, other agencies and donors. The city contributed $2 million in 2015 to ensure the move into the downtown Bellevue location was a successful continuation and expansion of the museum’s services while contributing to the attractiveness and vitality of downtown.
“We are thrilled to receive support from the City of Bellevue to continue growing our programs and expanding access to KidsQuest within our community,” said KidsQuest President and CEO Putter Bert.
KidsQuest emphasizes science, technology, engineering, art and math. The museum averages more than 200,000 visits each year. The grant approved on Monday, Sept. 16 will be paid in $250,000 installments this year and next. This latest investment will help KidsQuest provide more access to low-income families through 2040.
Mayor John Chelminiak added, “We build a stronger community when we offer the kind of valuable and accessible learning experience that KidsQuest specializes in.The funding offered to date has helped create an inviting educational space that is good for Eastside kids and families, and an investment in our future.”
Arts and Culture Fund introduced
Since 2001, Bellevue has supported Eastside arts through annual grants to individual artists and arts organizations. In 2018 the council established a new Arts and Culture Fund to provide support for capital improvements at major cultural institutions in the community. Already, the fund has helped improve facilities for KidsQuest, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Music Works Northwest, while helping to make programming more accessible to a broader segment of the community.
In keeping with the principles guiding the fund, KidsQuest has increased children’s accessibility to arts, science and technology. In 2018 alone, KidsQuest offered free or reduced admissions to over 5,000 visitors.
“Thousands of children in our community get valuable exposure to key educational topics at KidsQuest each year, and we are happy to support the continued success of this unique institution that fosters a love of learning through creative play,” said Councilmember John Stokes, who also serves at the council liaison to the city’s Arts Commission.
The Arts and Culture Fund receives $200,000 annually from the city’s capital budget. It enables additional support for local arts institutions that meet city guidelines.
The city has also begun the process of updating the Cultural Compass, a 2004 document that guides the city’s arts program. As the city’s signature art event – Bellwether – progresses this week, a survey collecting arts program feedback is still open.