Washington has served as a picturesque backdrop to several well-known films and television shows including “Twin Peaks,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Say Anything,” “Safety Not Guaranteed” and “Northern Exposure”—to name a few.
In a new executive order led by King County Executive Dow Constantine, a new Creative Economy Initiative will prioritize film production in King County.
“King County has long been home to artists, filmmakers, union crews and content creators who help make this region vibrant and economically strong,” Constantine said in the executive order. “These feature films and series, along with commercial productions, generate work that keeps our industry professionals employed, while they create the productions that allow us to export out cultural and commercial capital to the world.”
He said common creative economy pressures include artist displacement, affordability, lack of production spaces, music venue closures, and lack of competitive film incentives.
Constantine unveiled the proposal while serving cherry pie and black coffee to local actors and musicians at the iconic Twede’s Café in North Bend, site of the legendary “Twin Peaks” Double R Diner.
As part of the $169 million supplement to the 2019-2020 budget transmitted to the King County Council on Sept. 13, $306,000 will go toward launching the Creative Economy Initiative. Of that, $100,000 will fund grants for film producers who seek out and employ populations traditionally disadvantaged in the film industry. The grants will be a percentage of overall production costs.
Some $206,000 will go toward hiring an industry consultant to coordinate film-friendly policies. The funds will also sponsor community events such as film and music career days. King County also will reduce the permit fee to film on county property from $500 to $25 to encourage film production across the region.
Constantine launched his support of the music and film industries by hiring Kate Becker, a creative economy strategist, in April. As the first such arts-focused strategist at King County, Becker has been charged with working with elected officials and industry leaders to support a vibrant creative economy, beginning with the film and music sectors.
“I applaud Executive Constantine taking the lead on this issue and hope the state will follow his lead. We are woefully behind competing with other states and Canada in seeking film industry opportunities,” Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson said. “These activities go far to support our local economies and businesses.”
Constantine also signed an executive order to direct the county to leverage its real estate to help generate film business. While continuing to prioritize long-term real estate for affordable housing, the county will focus on short-term real estate for film production. Vacant county office properties are currently being used by a national television series as a production headquarters.
“For far too long, we’ve watched other locations steal film productions that rightfully belonged to King County. This budget request and executive order sends a signal that we value the movie industry, and want it to grow and thrive. No more business as usual — I am shaking things up and encouraging the creative economy so that we not only bring more jobs, but add to our cultural life, and share our unique Northwest perspective with the world,” Constantine said in a release.
King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles said she’s excited that King County is advancing the Creative Economy Initiative.
“As a state senator, I championed film industry development for many years, and I am happy to now continue supporting this industry and other creative industry sectors at the county level. King County is the home to many creatives who produce work and generate content that puts King County on the map as a creative hub,” Kohl-Welles said in a release. “We should do everything we can to ensure that these important creative sectors thrive. They are important to both our culture and our economy.”
To learn more about the Creative Economy Initiative, view the executive order on the kingcounty.gov website (https://bit.ly/31XoXkB).