An Arts District for Capitol Hill?

I’ll be providing welcoming remarks at a community forum on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, hosted by Capitol Hill Housing. The Forum will explore the possibility of establishing the City’s first official arts district on Capitol Hill. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the program begins at 5:30 p.m. The event is free but space is limited, so register in advance to ensure a seat. Registration closes at noon, May 20th.

Cap.Hill.Arts.DistrictSome of you may recall I first proposed establishing an arts district in response to CODAC’s recommendations in 2009. The Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee, comprised of local volunteer community, business and arts leaders, then issued as their top recommendation establishing an arts district in Seattle. Hiring a City staff person to focus on arts and cultural space was its second recommendation. During the Council’s 2012 budget deliberations on the 2013-2014 budget, I sponsored the addition of a Cultural Space Liaison position within the Office of Arts and Culture, which Matthew Richter eventually filled.

I’m glad to see momentum building again to establish Seattle’s first arts district.

In the late 1990′s, the City’s arts office had planned an online “spacefinder” tool allowing artists and arts groups to find space in Seattle. It was meant to connect people who manage space with those who need arts space. Unfortunately, its creation was a lot more complicated than anticipated and it stalled due to a shortage of resources needed to fully develop and operate the tool.

Today, the Office of Arts & Culture is poised to try again. It is now in the beginning stages of re-creating that tool. It recently completed an online public survey, soliciting input from those who manage space and from those who search for space, in hopes of better understanding their needs. This could become a very useful tool for artists, arts & culture organizations, and property managers.

At the May 20th Forum, the director of Capitol Hill Housing, Christopher Persons, will kick things off. I’ll say a few words, then Seattle Arts Commissioner Michael Seiwerath, with the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation, will talk about a Capitol Hill arts district.

Greg Esser will then present an example of a successful arts district, the Roosevelt Row Arts District in Phoenix, Arizona, followed by discussions on what Capitol Hill residents might want for their own.

Other Forum speakers will include, among others, Lesley Bain, with Frameworks Cultural Placemaking; Seth Garrison, with ‘Mo-Wave!; Tonya Lockyer, the Artistic Director of Velocity Dance Center; Jason Plourde, with Three Dollar Bill Cinema; Matthew Richter, the City of Seattle’s Cultural Space Liaison; and Cathryn Vandenbrink, with Artspace.

Andy Fife will facilitate a group conversation, followed by a reception at 7 p.m.

I hope to see you there!

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