Action at Langston Hughes Institute

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In November of last year, I blogged about Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center, recently re-named Arts Institute, and my budget request to the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs (OACA) to work with its Arts Commission to plan for the institution’s long-term financial stability.

Langston MarkeeLast week, OACA kicked off that effort by convening the first of up to six Action Committee meetings to be held between now and this summer. The goal is to develop initial recommendations to be presented to the City Council and Mayor this September. Final recommendations will come the following year.

The Action Committee has 15 members, including City staff, community representatives, and representatives of the broader arts community. My legislative aide, Frank Video, serves as a member.

Co-Chairing the Action Committee are Dr. Dorothy Mann, a former Seattle Arts Commissioner, and Terri Hiroshima, with

OACA director Randy Engstrom began the inaugural meeting by explaining the roles and responsibilities of the Action Committee:

  1. Review previous studies and recommendations that were conducted on Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI);
  2. Familiarize itself with the history of LHPAI;
  3. Use information gleaned from previous recommendations to assess LHPAI’s current situation when considering new recommendations for utilizing City resources to address the Institute’s long term sustainability.

One of the thornier questions that arose during this meeting touched upon the mission of the institution and whether there is an expectation it needs to be revised. Some interpreted previous studies as implying the mission should be expanded in order to attract larger audiences. Others worried that changing the mission might harm the Institution’s integrity. In the end, it was agreed that changing the mission was not expectated of the Action Committee. The budget document I authored requesting this planning process does not question LHPAI’s mission. The closest reference to LHPAI’s mission in that budget document is the statement that whatever plan is eventually recommended by the Committee should “focus on maintaining LHPAC’s existing programming for the African American community, while enhancing other types of programming and events.”

Stay tuned for more updates as these meetings progress.

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