New Arts Permit Liaison

Last year SDCI, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), and others collaborated with the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) on the creation of The CAP Report: 30 Ideas for the Creation, Activation, and Preservation of Cultural Space.

One of those “30 Ideas” was to create an Arts Permit Liaison position at SDCI. This new role is designed to help shepherd cultural space projects through the permitting process. SDIC’s Jeff McHegg is filling that role. He has been working with artists exploring home studio options, theater companies hoping to mount shows in warehouses, and even a beloved neighborhood cinema hoping to launch a new screening room… on the roof.

If you have a cultural space project, no matter how well formed or how speculative, you should contact Jeff. From identifying alternative paths to compliance for projects stuck at seemingly insurmountable code hurdles, to strategizing solutions to land use, building code, or other issues, Jeff can help. He can bring the resources of SDCI, ARTS, and OPCD to bear on your project.

We look forward to building connections between the cultural community and the world of code compliance. We want to demystify the experience of working with SDCI as a non-building professional.  A thriving arts and cultural scene in Seattle is part of what makes Seattle one of the country’s most livable cities. We’d like to keep it that way.

For more information, contact:

Jeff McHegg
Arts Permit Liaison

Show Will Go on for Fremont Solstice Parade

The future looks bright for the Fremont Solstice Parade thanks to a new partnership between the Fremont Arts Council and Seattle City Light. A permit for use of a City Light property has been signed by the Fremont Arts Council to store materials for the community-based arts parade, which was in danger of shutting down, as their lease could not be renewed at their current storage location due to construction.

In June 2017, Seattle City Light learned through the City of Seattle’s Finance and Administrative Services that the Fremont Arts Council was urgently looking for a new site to store float trailers and parade materials. The Environment, Land and Licensing Unit identified a City Light-owned property that was about to become vacant and contacted the Fremont Arts Council.

“As an important part of the history and fabric of our City, I am pleased we were able to work with the Fremont Solstice Parade to find a great space that allows us to preserve the parade,” said Mayor Murray.

“The Arts Council brings a huge amount of social and cultural good to the City of Seattle. We have an amazing legacy of community art and have accumulated supplies over time that allow us to put on the Fremont Solstice Parade, but those things need to be stored. A month ago we got to a point where we realized we might have to destroy our floats. We were squarely looking the end of this parade in the face,” said Peter Toms, co-founder of the Fremont Solstice Parade. “City Light contacted us and wanted to help. The new site is literally on the staging area for the parade. It’s fantastic. It couldn’t be any better.”

The approximately 4,000 square foot open-air site is located at 3616 3rd Avenue NW in Fremont. To assist in a timely transition from their current location, the Fremont Arts Council is signing a month-to-month permit for use effective Aug. 1 with the intent to pursue a long-term contract.

“This is a great example of partnership that will keep a beloved tradition alive,” Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO Larry Weis said. “I applaud our employees, the community leaders and volunteers involved in this agreement for coming together to ensure the Fremont Solstice Parade will go on. I’m particularly thankful to Real Estate Manager Maureen Barnes and Senior Real Property Agent Greg Aramaki for their leadership in securing the space and permit for parade.”

“The Fremont Solstice Parade is one of the most popular parades in Seattle,” Kate Becker, Director of the Office of Film + Music + Special Events said. “Thousands turnout every year to celebrate the summer, display their creative spirit, and embody Seattle’s whimsical nature. I am delighted the tradition will continue.”

“We are so grateful for the support from City Light. We intend to use the space to continue to enliven Seattle through celebration arts! Next year is our 30th Annual Fremont Solstice Parade. Thanks to their creative thinking and quick action, we will continue with our human-powered spectacle of colorful and quirky delights!” said Fremont Arts Council President Susan Harper.

Mayor Murray unveils affordability and growth plan, Arts and Culture District for Uptown neighborhood

Today, Mayor Ed Murray unveiled a plan for the future of Uptown, implementing requirements that will generate 600 new affordable homes for low-income people, providing capacity for more market-rate housing and jobs, supporting new spaces for cultural organizations and enacting the community’s vision for the future of the neighborhood. Additionally, Mayor Murray announced Uptown will become Seattle’s third Arts and Cultural District, providing resources to preserve, strengthen and expand arts and cultural spaces. Uptown has long been a cultural destination in Seattle, with over 30 arts, cultural and educational organizations located in the Seattle Center campus and surrounding neighborhood.

“By coupling growth with affordability, we are ensuring that Uptown’s booming culture and economy can be a model for community building rather than a model for gentrification,” said Mayor Murray. “With this announcement, we are ensuring everyone has access to housing in this local hub of arts, culture, transit, green space and jobs. Our housing policies must be about inclusion—this proposal makes good on that goal.”

Over the next 20 years, the proposed zoning changes will result in an estimated 600 new income-restricted and rent-restricted homes for low-income residents through the City’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, a key recommendation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. Under MHA, Uptown developers will be required to include affordable homes in between five percent and 10 percent of each building, or contribute between $8.00 and $29.75 per square foot to the Seattle Office of Housing to support affordable housing, depending on the specific location in the neighborhood.

“Uptown is one of our fastest growing urban centers, and borders on Seattle Center, one of the great civic spaces of our city,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia). “With its connections to Downtown, the Waterfront and the growing Belltown and South Lake Union neighborhoods, Uptown is already becoming a vibrant business and residential center. Not surprisingly, rents are rising rapidly in this neighborhood, and we clearly need affordable housing right in Uptown. Through this plan, hundreds of developer-funded affordable housing units will be built. I am committed to working with Uptown leaders to ensure we are using a suite of tools to create the housing we need.”

“I am excited for the implementation of MHA in the Uptown neighborhood. Through these zoning changes, we can ensure that more people have access to this vibrant neighborhood,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle). “As an area with great access to job centers, open space, transportation, as well as arts, culture and civic institutions like the Seattle Center and KeyArena, its density and amenity mix support a high level of livability. It is important that we continue to implement MHA and create additional affordable housing in our communities so that our artists, nonprofit employees, and workers of all wages can continue to contribute to the character of Seattle.”

For more than three years, Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) worked with community members to envision a vibrant future for the Uptown neighborhood. The proposal includes neighborhood priorities, such as design standards, that support vibrant streetscapes, incentives for new arts and cultural spaces, improved connections to Seattle Center, and enhanced walkability as outlined in the Uptown Urban Design Framework (UDF).

“The Urban Design Framework in this ordinance will help create the neighborhood where we want to live and work as Uptown grows,” said Deborah Frausto, chair of the Uptown Alliance UDF Committee. “We still have work to do in creating more possibilities for open space, affordable and workforce housing, and walkable community that’s safe and welcoming. Our community, with its generosity of spirit and gifts of time and expertise, will continue to stay involved and share ideas of what they want their neighborhood to be like.”

Mayor Murray’s proposal allows new building heights for many areas of the neighborhood already zoned for multi-family residential and mixed-use commercial buildings, providing additional capacity for market-rate and income-restricted housing within walking distance of South Lake Union, Belltown and Downtown. The rezone proposal includes an increase in building height along the Mercer Street Corridor from the current 40 feet to 85 feet, the same as the current height limit on the Seattle Center campus. The iconic public views of the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline as seen from Kerry Park, Bhy Kracke Park and other key view corridors are protected under the proposal.

The triangle bounded by Broad, Aurora and Denny could feature taller, thinner, well-spaced, 16-story residential towers. Other areas of the Uptown Urban Center currently zoned for multi-family residential or mixed-use would receive one or two stories of additional height. No zoning changes are proposed outside of the Uptown Urban Center or in nearby single-family neighborhoods.

Additionally, the rezone will create incentives for new arts and cultural spaces, giving smaller organizations a chance to operate in or near Seattle Center, which attracts visitors from around the world. The rezone will also help preserve historic buildings by allowing them to sell unused development rights.

In the last two years, 20 King County Metro bus lines that serve the neighborhood have expanded service because of voter-approved Proposition 1, improving transit speed and reliability. The Seattle Department of Transportation has updated signal controls on Mercer, Roy, and Valley streets to be more sensitive to real-time traffic conditions. Similar signal upgrades are planned for Denny Way. New street connections across Aurora at John, Thomas and Harrison will ease pressure on Mercer and Denny after the SR-99 tunnel opens.

Uptown Arts and Cultural District

Since the 1962 World’s Fair, Uptown has been a hub of Seattle arts and culture with the largest concentration of diverse organizations that range from independent artists, to internationally renowned classical arts, to innovative theater and visual arts, to ethnic festivals from around the world, to major music concerts. The Arts and Cultural District designation recognizes the culturally rich neighborhood and seeks to enhance its character.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as an official Arts and Cultural District,” said Cyrus Despres, co-chair and president of the Uptown Arts & Culture Coalition. “Uptown is experiencing the same growing pains as the rest of Seattle, and we are committed to enhancing our cultural experiences and evolving our identity as a welcoming home for the arts in Seattle.”

The designation includes access to the Creative Placemaking Toolkit, a suite of tools designed to preserve, strengthen, and expand arts and cultural spaces. The district will have access to $50,000 to be used toward the toolkit’s programs and resources for right-of-way identifiers, wayfinding, busking and plein air painting, art historic markers, pop-up activations, and parklets. The toolkit was designed to support artists, art spaces, and neighborhoods in maintaining and investing in their cultural assets.

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Mayor Murray announces $1.1 million in matching fund awards for community-based projects

Mayor Ed Murray has announced an investment of $1,182,400 to support 28 community-initiated projects across the City. The awards are from the Neighborhood Matching Fund’s Community Partnership Fund which provides awards of up to $100,000 to community organizations committed to fostering and building our community. The awards range from $10,500 to $100,000 with the 28 organizations pledging a total of $1,729,494 in community match resources of locally raised money, donated materials, in-kind professional services and volunteer hours.

“Through the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the City helps to support the efforts of the many community members whose creativity and hard work make this a more vibrant, interesting, and inclusive city for everyone,” said Mayor Murray. “From providing free classical concerts to creating a youth fitness challenge to celebrating the rich heritage of ethnic communities – our community members can use this fund to make their ideas come alive, and we are all richer for it.”

NMF consists of two separate funds: Community Partnership Fund, which is offered three times a year with cash awards up to $100,000, and the Small Sparks Fund, which is offered on a rolling basis throughout the year with cash awards of up to $5,000. To make the program more accessible, several enhancements were introduced this year including a streamlined application, added flexibility, and faster review processes. The program improvements have already resulted in nearly half of the applications coming from first time applicant groups. The next CPF application deadlines are June 26 and September 25.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) provides more than $3 million each year to local organizations. Over its 29-year history, more than 5,000 projects have been funded in partnership with the NMF Program, and its investment in neighborhoods can be seen across the city. For more information about NMF, visit

2017 Community Partnership Fund Awards – Spring Cycle

Citywide (Across all Council Districts)

$95,400 to The Seattle Globalist to organize a series of 17 free media workshops to train diverse communities to identify and produce multimedia stories about issues facing international communities around Seattle. The stories will be featured on its website and at a public celebration this fall. (Community match: $53,760)

$100,000 to Seattle Repertory Theatre to engage all ages and backgrounds from eight neighborhoods to participate in one year of free theatre-based classes led by professional teaching artists. It will include a production of four performances featuring the participants. (Community match: $734,493)

$60,000 to Town Hall Seattle to facilitate Inside/Out Community-Created Events in four neighborhoods. Neighborhood committees will collaborate as co-creators to develop and produce three to five inclusive arts and civics events in their neighborhoods. (Community match: $100,900)

$50,000 to Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy to organize a series of workshops and events to celebrate the arts and culture of the Caribbean throughout summer 2017. (Community match: $46,440)

District 1

$100,000 to Friends of Highland Park Elementary to construct a new public entryway and new play features at the Highland Park Elementary School playground. (Community match: $129,400)

$28,300 to Friends of 5th and Cloverdale to engage the community and a landscape architecture consulting team in a design process for streetscape improvements at the intersection of 5th Ave S and S Cloverdale St. (Community match: $18,730)

$10,500 to The Community Outreach Challenge Steering Committee to host the Community Outreach Challenge, a three-day fitness challenge for youth, to promote teamwork and decision-making through fitness. (Community match: $10,940)

District 2

$30,400 to Rainier Beach Merchants Association to organize the Rainier Beach Music and Arts Fest (BAAMFest), a cultural festival held in July to celebrate Rainier Beach’s beautiful, vibrant community, cultural heritage, and highlight its business district. (Community match: $29,895)

$29,800 to Othello Park Alliance to organize the Othello Park International Music and Arts Festival in August which will include music, food, art, and dance for all ages and cultures. (Community match: $31,634)

$15,100 to Friends of Japantown and Beyond to develop a series of free community walks in Chinatown-International District this year. The walk route will include sites of historical, economic, and cultural significance to the Japanese American community. (Community match: $39,100)

$27,800 to Friends of Block Party at The Station to organize the 2017 Block Party at The Station, an annual music and arts festival which showcases South Seattle artists and small businesses. This year’s festival will spotlight marginalized communities with most festival performers being women and LGBTQ artists of color. (Community match: $18,568)

$34,000 to East African Arts & Cultural Association to organize events to celebrate Ethiopian Week in July. The events will bring together the Ethiopian community to practice their heritage, engage Ethiopian youth in relevant community issues, and strengthen mutual understanding and respect among various cultures. (Community match: $19,400)

$20,000 to Big-Brained Superheroes Club to facilitate mini workshops by the Big-Brained Superheroes of Yesler Terrace, youth ages 5-18, on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). (Community match: $23,500)

$21,200 to Soul Societies to provide art instruction and cultural exploration to approximately 50 youth as a part of Tales of Art Project. This project will provide a place for Vietnamese and East African youth to create and showcase their artwork with the hope of increasing intra-cultural awareness and appreciation. (Community match: $10,760)

$25,000 to Somali Community Services of Seattle to organize a series of theater and acting trainings for youth in South Seattle this summer followed by a public performance. This project will bring together community members from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to promote understanding and cohesion. (Community match: $14,000)

$30,000 to It Takes a Village to organize The Middle Passage Healing Project, a series of events designed to foster unity among African Americans and East Africans. Digital storytelling, dance, art, music, African proverbs, podcasts, social media and cultural recipes will be highlighted. (Community match: $42,800)

$30,000 to Fathers & Sons Together (FAST) to organize six outdoor activities and powerful lessons with the goal of empowering fathers and guardians to embrace the pivotal role they hold in the family structure and support them in mentoring their sons and male youth into manhood. (Community match: $21,400)

District 3

$99,000 to Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle to make physical improvements to the Eritrean Association Community Center to improve opportunities for community events and educational activities. (Community match: $49,500)

$30,000 to Garinagu Houngua to organize a series of music, language, history, and food workshops centered on cultural exchange between the Garifuna and Panamanian communities in Seattle.  (Community match: $35,273)

$24,000 to Ethiopian Women Mothers & Family to organize an all-day celebration at Powell Barnett Park of the achievements of Ethiopian women through arts and culture, speaker presentations, family entertainments, and role model awards. (Community match: $39,275)

District 4

$58,000 to Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange to install equipment to launch KMGP 101.1, a low power radio station, with the goal of connecting communities using arts and culture and providing equity over the airwaves. (Community match: $44,677)

District 5

$46,800 to Friends of Jane Addams Middle School to engage the community and a landscape architect to prepare conceptual landscape design drawings to improve outdoor usability and safety at Jane Addams Middle School. (Community match: $24,930)

$50,000 to Friends of Evanston P-Patch to renovate the Evanston P-Patch’s decaying infrastructure by building a new path, new fence, sheds, a greenhouse, and a community gathering space with input from gardeners and neighbors. (Community match: $49,600)

District 7

$18,100 to Discover Music in the Park to organize a free outdoor classical music and dance concert in Discovery Park this August. (Community match: $11,760)

$20,000 to Magnolia Chamber of Commerce to install “Discover Magnolia” street flags, host three art walks, and implement an art in empty storefronts program as part of the Visible Village Vitality effort. (Community match: $12,700)

$40,000 to STRUM Community Group to organize music programming and potluck events to bring together musicians from the city’s homeless population and neighbors who share an interest in making music and building community. (Community match: $50,000)

$65,000 to Sundiata African American Cultural Association to produce Festival Sundiata, June 10-11, the largest African American festival in the Northwest that celebrates the culture of people of African descent, through music, food, dance and artistic expression. (Community match: $52,660)

$24,000 to Friends of Sheridan Street End to collaborate with a design firm to prepare conceptual design and permitting for improvements that would provide greater public access and community amenities at the West Sheridan Street End. ($13,400)

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Finalists announced for 2016 Mayor’s Arts Awards

This year 11 finalists have been selected for the 2016 Mayor’s Arts Awards. Finalists were selected from over 350 nominations and the winners will be announced at the Mayor’s Arts Award Ceremony on Friday, September 2 at 12 p.m. at Seattle Center, just prior to Bumbershoot opening.

The Seattle Arts Commission recommended the finalists from a pool of more than 350 public nominations. The Mayor’s Arts Awards recognize the contributions of artists, creative industries and cultural organizations who contribute to Seattle’s reputation as a hub of creativity and innovation.

The 2016 finalists are:

  • Cultural Ambassador: Diana Adams, Wayne Horvitz , Kabby Mitchell
  • Arts & Innovation: Louie Gong, Hedgebrook, Seattle Music Partners
  • Philanthropy Award: Ellen Ferguson, Huong Vu
  • Legacy Award: Alfredo Arreguín, Annex Theater, Fantagraphics

The winners will be announced at the Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony, on Friday, Sept. 2 at 12 p.m. at Seattle Center at the Mural Amphitheatre. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Presented in partnership with Bumbershoot, the awards ceremony is part of the official opening of Bumbershoot 2016. For 46 years, Bumbershoot has served as Seattle’s annual end-of-summer party — a celebration of music, art and creativity held beneath the iconic Space Needle in Seattle.

The Mayor’s Arts Awards are presented in partnership with Bumbershoot and One Reel with media sponsor City Arts and event sponsors The Boeing Company and Chihuly Garden and Glass.

For more information about the Mayor’s Arts Awards, including past recipients, visit

ABOUT THE 2016 Mayor’s Arts Award FINALISTS

Cultural Ambassador Award Finalists

Diana Adams – Diana Adams has cultivated and contributed to the Seattle arts and culture scene for 24 years. She has been a successful creative entrepreneur in many different fields including photography, publishing, e-commerce and hospitality. Her current gallery, Vermillion, is in the heart of Capitol Hill and in its eighth year.

Wayne Horvitz – Wayne Horvitz is a composer, pianist and electronic musician. He is the recipient the 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Horvitz is also the leader of The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, The Gravitas Quartet, Electric Circus, and Sweeter Than the Day.

Kabby Mitchell – Kabby Mitchell, III is a choreographer, educator and performer. Mitchell is currently a professor at Evergreen State College where he teaches Dance and African studies. He frequently contributes his time to help programs that support the development of young urban dancers, and is a supporter of local art and theatre companies whose goals are to serve the underserved community through the arts.

Arts & Innovation Award Finalists

Louie Gong- Louie Gong (Nooksack) is a Seattle-based artist and entrepreneur known for merging traditional Coast Salish art with influences from his urban environment to make strong statements about identity. Gong’s artwork and products reflect the lived experiences of Native peoples today, challenging stereotypical views of what Native art – or Natives – should look like.

Hedgebrook- Hedgebrook is a global community of women writers and people who seek extraordinary books, poetry, plays, films and music by women. A nonprofit, their mission is to support visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come.

Seattle Music Partners – Seattle Music Partners is dedicated to bringing more music-learning opportunities to students in low-income schools. They do this by offering free after school programs that uses music and mentorship to empower young people. Their unique program matches skilled volunteers from the community, one-on-one, with as many as 100 students who wish to learn how to play an instrument and become part of a vibrant music-making community.

Philanthropy Award Finalists          

Ellen Ferguson – Ellen Ferguson has a long history in arts and culture, both professionally and in volunteer service in the Seattle area. Ferguson currently serves on the board of the Burke Museum Association and Co-Chairs the Campaign for the New Burke.  She is also the Co-Chair of the Wing Luke Asian Museum board and has held leadership positions on the boards of the Washington Museum Association and the Western Museum Association and has received lifetime achievement awards from both.

Huong Vu – For the past two decades, Huong Vu has been a philanthropy manager and curator. She is currently the Community Investor-Arts, Culture and Civic Engagement, Global Corporate Citizenship-Pacific NW Region at The Boeing Company. Vu leads Boeing Commercial Airplane’s Pacific Northwest Region arts, culture, and civic engagement grants portfolio. Her personal passions center on immigrant refugee rights, social justice, equity, and mentoring the next generation of leaders.

Legacy Award Finalists

Annex Theater – Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Annex Theatre is a democratic collective of theatre artists dedicated to creating bold new work in an environment of improbability, resourcefulness, and risk. For the last three decades, Annex has been an accessible laboratory for new writing and performance work in Seattle, generating dozens of world premiere plays and providing crucial early-career development for hundreds of artists.

Alfredo Arreguín – Alfredo Arreguín was born in Mexico and developed as an artist in Seattle (BA 1967, MFA 1969—University of Washington), where he has resided since 1956.  Over the last four decades, Arreguín has amassed a long and distinguished list of accomplishments that features many awards, exhibitions in France, Mexico, Spain, and the US. His works are included in many important private and public collections, including the National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

Fantagraphics – Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books is celebrating its 40th year as one of the world’s leading publishers of comix, graphic novels, and “badass” books. Specializing in contemporary cartoonists, classic comic strips, foreign translations, and the history of the comics art form Fantagraphics is among our city’s most successful and colorful cultural institutions.