Robert Jackson Block dedicated a substantial amount of personal investment income toward the creation of an Allied Arts Foundation investment fund to prevent Seattle from being relegated to what English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham referred to as a “Cultural Dustbin.”
With Jerry Thonn, an attorney who had worked tirelessly with Friends of the Market to preserve Pike Place Market as Seattle’s first designated historic district, and with Peggy Golberg, Mr. Block formed the nucleus of a group determined to put money where Allied Arts’ voice was.
In supporting advocacy and education programs through their annual gala auctions, Allied Arts Foundation took root providing the necessary heft that allowed the influential advocacy group to help pass important historical initiatives. These included creating the city’s and state’s first arts commissions, mandating better arts funding through the one percent of county revenues for the arts and King County’s hotel/motel tax, placing restrictions on billboards, and helping to preserve Seattle’s historic buildings and create both the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square historic districts to protect the city’s unique flavor and character, as well as its colorful past.
Allied Arts was on the forefront of a sustained and comprehensive effort to push Seattle out of its comfortable sleep as a cultural backwater toward its rich future as a vital urban magnet.