Cultural Space Symposium

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Last week, I provided comments at the Square Feet Seattle Cultural Space Symposium held at Northwest Film Forum, organized by Matthew Richter of the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and sponsored by that office along with 4Culture.

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Square Feet Seattle

I followed a great presentation on cultural districts by Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, founder of Metris Arts Consulting and the author of the National Endowment for the Art’s highly influential whitepaper Creative Placemaking. Ms. Gadwa Nicodemus talked about creative placemaking and presented recent examples, both successful and failed, of cultural placemaking through arts districts around the country.

Ever since the Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee recommended back in 2009 that the City create Cultural Districts, I’ve been ready to sponsor legislation making it so.

A Cultural District would be an officially recognized area of concentrated cultural activity, where the city would apply an array of tools (such as zoning incentives, regulatory exemptions, right-of way improvements, tax abatements, direct marketing support, asset preservation, and procedural streamlining) that would support and enhance an area’s cultural activities.

Hopefully, the November symposium gets us one step closer.

Nick addressing the Nov. 18th, 2013 Cultural Space Symposium

Nick addressing the Nov. 18th, 2013 Cultural Space Symposium

One of the most intriguing elements of the Symposium was the Large Foam Check Challenge put to attendees to come up with language for a Request for Proposals (RFP) that seeks solutions to specific problems confronting the development of cultural space and cultural districts. “Describe a problem you would like to see solved.”

The winning idea was provided by Cathryn Vandenbrink, Vice President for Properties at Artspace Projects, Inc., who suggested creating a Cultural Development Certification for new building projects in Seattle, analogous to existing certifications for LEED, that would allow a project access to tools within the city that would incentivize developers to include cultural components in their projects.

Here is a link to apply to the RFP. The deadline is January 22d, 2014.

I think Cathryn’s idea is brilliant and I look forward to helping implement it.

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