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UP #371 – June 30 Arts Reception for Council Candidates

This is a follow-up to my June 9th blog post on this topic. As Chair of the Seattle City Council’s Finance and Culture Committee, I have partnered with the Seattle Theatre Group to host a reception for representatives of Seattle non-profit arts organizations, the Seattle Arts Commission, and City Council candidates.

When: 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 30th, 2015.

Where: In the Paramount Theatre Lobby, 911 Pine Street, Seattle.

Arts Candidate Reception Flyer

This reception brings together arts organization staff and board, arts Commissioners to meet candidates registered to run for seats on the 2016 Seattle City Council. The general public is also welcome.

The evening provides an opportunity for arts community members to mingle with candidates and discuss their answers to two questions foremost on the minds of Seattle’s arts community:

1. What do you see as the most challenging arts issues facing Seattle?

2. If elected, how would you advance the arts in Seattle?

Why do I consider the arts important enough to bring to the attention of possible future Councilmembers?

For one, they provide essential ingredients for living: beauty, joy, wonder and a deeper understanding of life. Can you imagine living without the historic Paramount, Eagles Auditorium and 5th Avenue theaters? Never seeing a movie again? Never again reading a non-fiction book? What about James Wehn’s “Chief Seattle Fountain?” Or, Isamu Noguchi’s “Black Sun,” or Jonathan Borofsky’s “Hammering Man,” or Henry Moore’s “Vertebrae” sculptures? When “Vertebrae” was presumably sold and on its way to Japan in 1986, the City threatened legal action if then SeaFirst bank moved it without a comparable replacement. The bank reconsidered and eventually the Seattle Art Museum purchased it so it would stay in Seattle. While we could certainly survive without art in our lives, such survival would be too dull to bear.

Secondly, there is an economic case to be made for the arts. In Seattle, over $447.6 million in annual economic activity is generated, creating 10,807 full-time equivalent jobs, $248.2 million in household income, and $38.2 million in local and state government revenues. Nonprofit arts alone in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties generates close to $2 billion in the Central Puget Sound’s economy, creating 32,520 jobs, $882 million in labor income and $83 million in taxes. (Americans for the Arts 2012 Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Report)

For these reasons I believe legislating City policies and practices is best accomplished when taking into account its potential impact and relationship to art and culture.

One example is the Council’s recently approved legislation for pedestrian zones in neighborhoods across the City, which allows broader residential uses at street-level in commercial areas. That legislation also addressed areas outside of pedestrian designated zones, including places where developers and property owners are allowed to build live-work units at the street level. Artists and other creative industries typically occupy live-work spaces. Other types of small businesses do, too.

However, a survey my office conducted in 2012 found that most live-work units were being used simply as residential apartments rather than being occupied by businesses whose owners also resided there.

So, I proposed and the Council approved amendments to this legislation that require property owners to keep business licenses on file for each live-work unit they own as well as to provide an exterior sign for each live-work unit indicating its occupying business.

My intent was to lessen the likelihood of owners treating these street-level spaces as apartments, thereby making more live-work space available to artists and other small businesses that can enliven the streetscape through their activities.

City Council candidates’ answers to the two questions above will be posted on my Council website on June 30th. Hard-copies will be available at the event.

Support for the reception comes from Artist Trust, ArtsFund, Town Hall Seattle, Seattle Theatre Group, and the Seattle Arts Commission. Each will send one or more representatives to the reception while encouraging their memberships to attend, as well.

This reception will be a meet-and-greet community event, not a campaign event, and is free and open to the public…to anyone interested in the state of the arts in Seattle.

Please, help spread the word!

Keep in touch…

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