Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

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I recently wrote about funding arts-related capital facility projects through the City’s arts office. Today, I’m writing about another arts-related budget issue: Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, or LHPAC.

When the Mayor proposed transferring the operations of LHPAC from the parks department to the arts office, some expressed concern it might stray from its long-time mission of serving African American and African Diaspora communities. But, that concern is unwarranted, as the City Council and the Mayor have pledged to see LHPAC continue its mission.

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

While programming and day-to-day management will transfer to the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs (OACA) next year, the building would still be maintained by the Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR). Most of LHPAC’s DPR staff would be transferred over to OACA, as well.

A concern I have is that LHPAC costs the City over $700,000 annually to run, while it earns only about $70,000 per year. Other City-owned properties conducting arts operations are leased to independent arts organizations that run their own programs.

So, I sponsored a budget request asking OACA to work with the Seattle Arts Commission (SAC) to develop a plan that addresses LHPAC’s long-term sustainability and report back to my Council committee in September of next year with a preliminary plan and again in June of 2014 with final recommendations. The Mayor’s proposed 2015-2016 budget would be expected to include costs for implementing the recommended plan.

The plan would focus on maintaining LHPAC’s existing programming for the African American and African Diaspora communities while establishing a mechanism for long-term financial support and stability for LHPAC. The plan will recommend whether LHPAC should:

1.      continue to be operated by the City;

2.      be leased or transferred to a group or organization to carry forward LHPAC programming;

3.      be managed by a third-party organization for the City; or

4.      or pursue some other approach.

In the mean time, check out this ArtZone video featuring a story on the City’s recent upgrades to the building housing LHPAC.

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