Most Influential, Arts: Kate Becker
Growing the region’s creative economy
By Chris S. Nishiwaki March 9, 2023
Kate Becker is one of Seattle’s 25 most influential people reshaping our region. #mostinfluential
Kate Becker is equally at ease analyzing spreadsheets as she is reading sheet music. The King County Creative Economy and Recovery director has combined her passion for music and film with her business acumen to build a stronger cultural and financial region. In the last year alone, with a vision for a vibrant King County and the savvy of a seasoned political tactician, she has helped raise and distribute millions of dollars to arts and entertainment organizations, both for and nonprofit.
Becker secured $34.2 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for the local creative economy and tourism. Of that, $9.4 million was earmarked for nonprofit 4Culture and disbursed to local arts organizations in 2022.
She also helped produce the music festival Cloudbreak in collaboration with Visit Seattle, allocating more than $1 million in lodging tax revenue to mount the festival in November promoting musicians coming out of the pandemic. The festival featured more than 150 musicians in 68 shows at 28 venues.
“We knew we got the venues through the recovery but we didn’t get the musicians through the pandemic,” Becker says of the genesis of Cloudbreak. “Keeping our tourism going is vital to our musicians.”
She has also been the driving force in remodeling the former Fisher Flour Mill on Harbor Island in South Seattle into a state-of-the-art soundstage with the ambition of drawing film and television productions from around the world. Becker secured $2.2 million for the remodel of the first soundstage of its kind in the region since “Northern Exposure” wrapped filming in a Redmond studio in 1995.
The Amy Poehler-produced comedy “Three Busy Debras” shot two seasons in the renamed Harbor Island Studios, with more productions in the works.
“If we are going to grow our film industry, we are going to need a world-class soundstage,” Becker says.
She also helped create the King County Office of Economic Opportunity and Creative Economy, enshrining support for arts and entertainment.
“You have to really understand the importance of the creative economy. Not every public leader is willing to take that bold stance,” says Becker, who previously served as director of the city of Seattle’s Office of Film + Music. “(King County Executive) Dow (Constantine) had been really clear to me to come and join him in advocating for the creative economy.”