The SCFD is our region’s best success story.

In 1988, metro-Denver voters approved a first-of-its-kind Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), funded by a dedicated sales tax – one cent on every $10 – to support 171 cultural facilities throughout six metro-area counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson (Broomfield was added in 1998). In the late 1980s, government support had diminished and facilities were struggling.

Today, the SCFD helps fund more than 300 small and large cultural facilities that provide high-quality programming throughout the region. Attendance has climbed 95 percent since the district began and citizens have access to twice the number of organizations.


SCFD funding continues to be unique across the nation, earning metro Denver top billing in support for the arts nationally, and allowing creation of a vibrant, flourishing cultural scene with a multitude of cultural experiences to nourish most every interest.

In addition, the small investment by taxpayers provides enormous returns. The SCFD has a huge impact on the region’s economy:
– Generates $1.8 billion annually in economic activity
– Creates 10,731 jobs
– Spurs $520 million in tourism
Source: Colorado Business Committee for the Arts


Voters have repeatedly expressed that culture is important. Continuation of the SCFD has been approved twice in its 28-year history, showing that voters recognize the enormous positive impact it has on the entire metro area.

Another SCFD renewal will be on the November 8, 2016 ballot that extends the SCFD until 2030. The amount of the sales tax will remain unchanged (0.1%, or one penny on every $10).

The funding is supplemental to organizations and enhances access, offers maximum education opportunities, strengthens outreach and provides high-quality programming among the organizations. SCFD funding:

  • Provides educational experiences for 4 million school children (most attend free)
  • Allows organizations to offer free or reduced admission to twice as many visitors as who paid in full (5.2 million free, 4.25 million reduced, 4.75 million full price)
  • Sponsors more than 100 free days at the region’s cultural attractions every year

Organizations are grouped into three tiers according to operational costs, revenue, attendance and access.

Tier I

The five largest regional, flagship organizations: Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo

Tier II

28 mid-size organizations: includes the Butterfly Pavilion, Chautauqua, Children’s Museum of Denver, Lone Tree Arts Center, Swallow Hill Music Association and others. Funding is disbursed among organizations according to revenue and attendance.

Tier III

More than 270 smaller, community-based organizations throughout the 7-county region. Organizations apply to county-appointed County Cultural Councils for funding. Councils decide amounts of grants, taking into account organizational capacity and financial viability.

Renewing the SCFD will change the way funding is dispersed to improve the SCFD’s effectiveness, increasing funding to mid-sized and smaller organizations and decreasing funding to the five largest regional organizations.