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Seattle City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Sally Bagshaw respond to Mayor’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center operations proposal

Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw

Seattle City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Sally Bagshaw respond
to Mayor’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center operations proposal

Seattle – As part of the Mayor’s upcoming 2013-14 budget proposal, Mayor McGinn recently announced his proposal to transfer the operations and programming of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (LHPAC) to the City’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs (OACA) from the Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR).

In response to this proposed transfer, Councilmember Nick Licata, Chair of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee, offered the following statement, “While I support empowering the LHPAC to reach its potential for serving Seattle’s increasingly diverse arts audiences, I need to know how nearby residents, civic leaders, arts professionals and Seattle Arts Commissioners view such a transfer.”

Councilmember Bagshaw, Chair of the Parks and Neighborhoods Committee added, “Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center has been a fixture in the Central District and a gathering place for community and the arts for decades. While this transfer is intriguing and might look good on paper, I want to make sure that it feels good to the people who use it”.

Licata and Bagshaw plan on meeting soon with interested community representatives to explore the Mayor’s proposal for LHPAC. Questions heard from the community include whether there are clear goals and expectations for LHPAC’s future: Is it possible for LHPAC to evolve into a stand-alone non-profit or even for-profit venue? If so, should a steering committee of arts professionals and Central Area community members be assembled to guide the process? What are reasonable expectations for how long such a transition will take? How will staffing need to change? 

In addition to Central Area community members, the Councilmembers plan to invite OACA and DPR management as well as the Seattle Arts Commission chair and its members to participate in the meeting.

LHPAC is unique in being Seattle’s only City-managed performing arts facility. Other City-owned performing arts facilities, such as the Bathhouse Theatre and Spectrum Dance Theatre, are leased by the City to third parties best qualified to manage arts programming. OACA does not currently operate arts facilities. It does provide funding to Seattle’s most notable arts organizations via a peer panel selection process. LHPAC and its seven staff cost the City approximately $740,000 annually, while generating approximately $71,000 a year in revenue.

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