About South King County Cultural Coalition - SoCoCulture

Founded in 2004

In March 2004, King County Council Member Julia Patterson hosted a community luncheon to discuss the artistic and cultural vitality of South King County. Out of this the South King County Cultural Coalition, better known as SoCoCulture, was born.  Some 70 groups have joined forces to promote and preserve culture in the vibrant communities south of Seattle. SoCo provides advocacy, collaborative marketing, networking opportunities and professional development for our members.


Become a member

The coalition is open to all arts, heritage, botanical and other cultural organizations that present, produce, preserve or propel culture in South King County, including theatre, music, dance, literary, heritage, genealogicalbotanical and visual arts organizations. Government and education agencies are also eligible.

Bi-monthly meetings

Check the calendar for specific dates, times, places and speakers in January, March, May, September and November. We meet at different cultural venues throughout South King County and feature guest speakers on various topics. For more information e-mail info@sococulture.org

SoCoCulture Members

Our cultural association consists of dance, heritage, literary, music, theatre, municipal, botanical, educational and visual arts organizations located in AuburnBlack Diamond, Burien, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Maple Valley, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila, Washington. Click here to read about each member. You can join the coalition online or by mail.

SoCoCulture Strategic Plan 2022-2024

In the 21st Century, South King County has become one of the most diverse centers of humanity anywhere in the world – we are home to people whose ancestors have lived in this region since time immemorial, to brand-new arrivals seeking refuge from homelands that have been riven by war or economic despair or environmental disaster, and to many more whose lived experiences contain other stories of challenge and aspiration. Cultural expression is a vital balm and connector for our community.

The South King County Cultural Coalition (SoCoCulture) supports its members to be successful in their work and in the pursuit of their continuous education while activating equity, upholding accountability and promoting inclusion throughout their mission, practices and services to others.

SoCoCulture provides cultural organizations, cultural producers and community leaders with the tools and opportunities to network, learn, share, support and pursue equitable and inclusive arts, heritage, historic preservation and other cultural practices for the benefit of all people in communities they serve.

OUR GOALS – and strategies for achieving them
SoCoCulture’s Goals are centered on Building Relationships, Building Capacity, and Advocating for Culture. In the following section, we state each goal, followed first by the rationale for that goal, and then by the strategies we will use to achieve these goals. Some of these strategies contain timelines for completion. Strategies that do not include timelines are part of our ongoing practice.


Building Relationships
The population of South King County continues to grow and the demographics continue to change. As a coalition designed to support cultural efforts in South King County, SoCoCulture embraces those changes with active outreach, and works to connect cultural organizations and producers with one another as well as with audiences and others in the community.

Ensure that SoCoCulture membership reflects the cultural density of South King County

  • In 2022, reach out to the South King County cities that have Diversity Services coordinators, Neighborhood Programs Coordinators, etc., on staff to learn about their work and explore opportunities for collaboration or connecting with the groups they are working with that may be underserved.
  • At our meetings, feature speakers from different organizations that exemplify South King County’s cultural density, or showcase such organizations.
  • Invite representatives from groups that might be potential SoCo members to attend a meeting as a guest presenter or simply a guest.
  • Talk to POC-led member organizations to understand how SoCoCulture can best serve them and how membership meetings could address their needs.
  • Participate in regularly scheduled meetings of other South King County-based coalitions that address racial and social equity as part of their core mission – groups such as Kent Community Foundation, Kent Cultural Diversity Initiative Group, South King County Health Coalition, South King County Human Services Coalition, South King County Native Coalition.
  • In our outward-facing communications (SoCo website, SoCo E-News, SoCo Facebook page and upcoming SoCo mass transit advertising campaign) we will represent the diverse faces and talents of South King County.
  • SoCoCulture engages in targeted one-on-one outreach to ensure that underserved members of our community are aware of grant opportunities that they might not have heard about otherwise.
  • Membership of SoCoCulture’s leadership team will reflect this cultural density and play an active role in determining how to increase and diversify our membership.
  • Use the 2021 report prepared by the IDEA group as a toolkit to aid in decision-making. (See attached.)

Ensure that SoCoCulture includes and serves cultural groups across the geographical expanse of South King County

  • In 2022, reach out to all City Councils in South King County to let them know about the resources SoCoCulture provides and the SoCo members that are currently in their cities.
  • In 2022, reach out to the local community associations in unincorporated areas of South King County to introduce SoCo and inquire about needs.
  • Actively seek out relationships with South King County cultural groups that are not already members of SoCoCulture.
  • Facilitate connections and promote member activities via our website, E-News and social media channels.
  • SoCoCulture currently counts Green River College and the Auburn and Highline School Districts as SoCo members. In 2023 and 2024 we will reach out to all of the other school districts and colleges in South King County to invite collaboration and encourage membership.

Expanding Collaborations

  • SoCoCulture will work with its own membership along with other potential collaborators such as King County Historic Preservation, Ethnic Heritage Council, AKCHO, 4Culture and others to build tangible connections between libraries/local colleges/school districts and local historical museums and historic sites, including “hidden histories” that previously may have been overlooked due to historical mainstream bias.
  • Be nimble and supportive in responding to ideas from SoCo members regarding collaborations.

(Re)building – and Rethinking – Capacity
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges for all of our members. SoCoCulture offers a portfolio of services to support them as they reboot their organizations.

Within SoCoCulture

  • In 2022, study and (where practicable) adopt new practices that will allow increased access by currently underserved communities – these might include use of closed captioning, foreign language translation, reconsidering meeting times, etc.

SoCoCulture provides professional development

  • SoCoCulture provides professional development meetings five times a year that focus on helping members strengthen their operations and build their audiences – meeting topics are determined by the SoCo leadership team.
  • SoCoCulture provides and regularly updates and promotes a crowd-sourced list of resources around Racial Equity Matters on the Magazine page of our website.
  • SoCoCulture will work with member organizations that have lost steam during the pandemic and provide support in envisioning how to move forward.
  • In 2023 and 2024, SoCoCulture will assess the utility of holding possible mini-conferences (Arts Commissioners summit, Creative Districts showcase, Historic Preservation workshops, Creative Justice-type showcase, grant writing workshop, nonprofit-forming workshop, etc.) to inspire and inform.

SoCoCulture promotes member activities and needs

  • Regularly updates and posts events, exhibits, volunteer needs, artist calls and auditions, and classes on the SoCo website.
  • Daily shout-outs of member activities on SoCoCulture’s Facebook page.
  • In 2022, double the opt-in list of artists who receive the SoCo Opps bulletin that lists artist calls and other opportunities.
  • Monthly mailing of the SoCoCulture E-News.
  • Pilot new ways for members to reach out to underserved communities.
  • In 2022, pilot the use of a new SoCo Instagram account.
  • In 2022, with 4Culture’s support, SoCoCulture will pilot an advertising campaign for SoCo organizations on mass transit (Link Light Rail and Metro buses) throughout South King County.

Advocating for Culture
SoCoCulture ensures that cultural issues have “a seat at the table” in the civic discourse of county districts, municipalities, school districts and other jurisdictions in South King County, and consistently alerts its membership to advocacy opportunities.

Proactive advocacy

  • SoCoCulture assists Inspire Washington in galvanizing South King County participation (in Legislative Districts 11, 30, 31, 33 and 47) in the annual Arts & Heritage Day statewide lobbying effort.
  • In its monthly News You Can Use bulletin to SoCo membership, SoCoCulture promotes calls to cultural advocacy, especially at the county and state levels.
  • SoCoCulture supports local municipalities that undertake the state-level Creative District process with advocacy and outreach.

Addressing issues that arise

  • SoCoCulture provides contacts and helps design strategies to individuals seeking assistance with cultural concerns.
  • SoCoCulture stands as an ally in response to efforts by our members to advocate on cultural issues – these might involve historic preservation, protection of culturally treasured trees, preserving school funding for art programs, Native American mascot name changes, etc. – through letter-writing, attendance at meetings, testifying before decision-making bodies, writing op-ed pieces and more.


Our Process

We would like to acknowledge and thank the members of the SoCoCulture Leadership Team who lent extra time and expertise in doing the research for and shaping this strategic planning document. Their contributions were enlightening and their expectations are high. With this type of engaged participation, SoCoCulture is committed to meeting the expectations set forth in this Strategic Plan.

The Continuity Planning working group developed a set of procedures to ensure the consistent operations of SoCoCulture and its communications to membership. The group also created lists of online account access info/passwords, press contacts, and community contacts outside of SoCoCulture. These reside in SoCoCulture’s Cloud account. The SoCo Leadership Team has access to most of the material in this account, with the exception of a few sensitive documents, which can be accessed by the SoCo Staff, Treasurer and Treasurer Back-Up.

Continuity Plan working group:
Christina DePaolo/4Culture
José García/King County Library System
Barbara McMichael/SoCoCulture

The IDEA (Inclusion/Diversity/Equity/Access) working group developed a guide to approaching antiracism, equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and access in the work that SoCoCulture performs. It is attached to this document and will serve as a reference as we forward.

IDEA (Inclusion/Diversity/Equity/Access) working group:
Justice McNeeley/White River Valley Museum
Bennyroyce Royon/Evergreen City Ballet
Gaylloyd Sissón/African American Writers Alliance

The Survey working group developed a questionnaire that invited SoCo members to reflect on their operations, audiences, programming, funding, and the challenges and opportunities they face. These answers informed the goals we set out in the strategic plan. These documents reside in SoCoCulture’s Cloud account.

Survey working group:
Maggie Larrick/Burien Actors Theatre
Donovan Skaggs/Federal Way Harmony Kings
Barbara McMichael/SoCoCulture

Our thanks also to Monica Tolas/Interurban Center for the Arts, who secured a virus-free “clean room” at Green River College where we could meet in the midst of the pandemic.

And thanks, finally, to the many SoCoCulture members who responded to different drafts of this plan – providing feedback, insights, and guidance – as we shaped the goals and the strategies for reaching those goals and incorporated them into the document you have before you.

Tool Kit provided by SoCoCulture’s IDEA Group:

The IDEA Group mentioned above developed these ideas, which we are incorporating as a toolkit that will aid SoCoCulture in its decision-making process and implementation of the strategic plan, and is available to all of our members in an effort to confront and dismantle systemic racism.

A Note on Language
We recognize the complexity of addressing a culture that marginalizes people’s identities. The Group suggests that SoCoCulture investigate better alternatives to outdated and disturbing labels used to identify certain individuals, people, or groups. It is essential to clarify language to avoid thinking that demeans social and ethnic values systemic racism encourages. There are several popularized terms used.

Labels to discuss/review (list not complete) :

  • LGBTQ2S+
  • Minorities
  • Diversity
  • Inclusion
  • Access vs. Accessibility
  • Cultural Density
  • Model Minority

 SoCoCulture members, what are other existing labels can we add to the list?

Action Items

#1 — Commit to “Out-of-the-Box” Education
“Out of the box” means combating/confronting/challenging/evolving/… the erroneous narratives created by dominant colonial/settler powers which center the comfort and futures of white settlers on this continent and elsewhere. This education involves deep self-work in order to move towards a more mindful, grounded, and complete understanding. Continued learning, dialogue, participation, and advocacy must be an individual and collective effort.

Engage regularly scheduled opportunities for SoCoCulture leadership to develop their self-work relating to antiracism, equity, accessibility, and cultural density. We as individuals must recognize and dismantle ways organizations perpetuate colonialism.

#2 — Develop Relational Accountability
Relational accountability means knowing our roles and relationships with each other, and using our privileges and perspectives, in order to be accountable to marginalized identities and groups. It is important to shift transactional actions to long-term relations.

Fostering relational accountability is crucial for individual and community welfare. We must implement transparency and create a system that keeps SoCoCulture members accountable for equitable and inclusive work. Everyone must follow through on every commitment made to individuals and community members in adherence to the mission statement.

#3 — Build Meaningful Community Relationships
Meaningful relationships encompass the values of social accountability and long-term commitments for community wellness and investments. SoCoCulture must pursue better and meaningful relationship by:

  • Dedicating more time to listening and learning before organizing with individuals, groups, or communities
  • Understanding the history, legacy, values, lived experiences, and positionality of individuals, groups, communities, and its members through active and reciprocal dialogue
  • Decentering SoCoCulture’s organizational identity in the support, relationship, or work it offers to its community members and others

If any other SoCo members are interested in participating in the IDEA Group’s work, please contact Barbara McMichael at info@sococulture.org or 206-878-6912 and she can put you in touch with them.

Note to SoCo members: for more ideas to consider for your personal or organizational Toolkit, please visit sococulture.org/racial-equity-matters-resource-list/  and if you have resources you’d like to add to that list, please send them along to info@sococulture.org

Photo credits

On Home page

  • The Renton Municipal Arts Commission’s Holi celebration welcoming Spring – photo courtesy of Renton Municipal Arts Commission
  • Botanical – Magnolia tree in bloom at Soos Creek Botanical Garden – photo courtesy of Soos Creek Botanical Garden
  • Dance – Pacific Ballroom Dance offers a robust slate of dance classes and events for adults – photo courtesy Pacific Ballroom Dance
  • Heritage – The Museum of Flight celebrates its Black “Rosie the Riveters” – photo courtesy of Museum of Flight
  • Literary – Federal Way poet Alexandria Manalo, who often appears at special events produced by the Pacific Bonsai Museum, introduces her new book, “Butterfly Army Unite” – photo courtesy of Alexandria Manalo
  • Music – Rainier Youth Choirs’ Consonare group after a recent performance – photo courtesy of Rainier Youth Choirs
  • Organization – Explore Seattle Southside showcases wonderful sites to visit and enjoy in South King County, such as Angle Lake Park in SeaTac – photo courtesy of Explore Seattle Southside
  • Theatre – Andrew McMasters of Improv Mindset LLC uses theatrical techniques to help businesses and individuals succeed – photo courtesy of Improv Mindset
  • Visual Arts – Pacific Bonsai Museum will host a free Tai Chi workshop on April 27 – photo courtesy Pacific Bonsai Museum


On About SoCo page

SoCoCulture members gathered for their 2024 meeting at the Black River Cultural Arts Center in Renton – photo credit Barbara McMichael