ARTS Launches newest Arts & Cultural District

On Saturday, August 18, before Cinema Under the Stars in Columbia Park, Deputy Mayor Ranganathan, Randy Engstrom and representatives from Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Uptown welcomed Seattle’s newest arts and cultural district, the Columbia Hillman Arts & Cultural District.

Kathy Fowells, director at SEEDArts spoke eloquently about becoming the newest arts and cultural district and we wanted to share her words with everyone.

I would like to acknowledge that we are on indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. I’d also like to thank all the artists, and people representing the arts and cultural spaces in Columbia and Hillman Cities for working together throughout the application process. We’ve been working towards this designation for 2 years. You all should know that there were nearly 100 people involved in this process — it was truly grassroots organizing at its finest.  

As you may know, the 98118-zip code has become one of the most diverse regions in the nation. People from 40 ethnic groups call our neighborhoods home and speak 59 different languages. We are lucky to be able to experience these diverse cultures through their arts, performances, and cuisines right in our own backyard.  

Columbia and Hillman Cities have one of the densest populations of artists and musicians in our state. Our Creative Economy is strong and thriving. 10 years ago, the Washington State Arts Commission and the Western States Arts Federation worked together to form a tool called the Creative Vitality Index which tracks the impact of the creative economy in the state. The study tracks 36 occupational categories – including artists and musicians, photographers and filmmakers, dancers and authors. It also tracks revenue for arts organizations, businesses, and other data related to arts participation. The national Creative Vitality Index score is 1. The score for Washington State is .98 — just below the national average. Can you guess what our score is? It’s a whopping 1.83 – that’s nearly double the state score! According to their report, nearly 3,000 residents in SE Seattle hold creative jobs. In 2014, our local creative industries put $134 million dollars into the economy, and our cultural nonprofits contributed another $45 million. And that’s just in SE Seattle. 

Last weekend, I went to the San Jose Jazz Festival to see my brother, who is a jazz drummer in NYC, perform. As I was looking at the festival schedule, I was excited to see a Seattle band, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, on the schedule. Their drummer is none other than our very own Dave McGraw, the owner of Columbia City Acupuncture. It was pretty cool to be in California moving to beats from SE Seattle. It struck me that the arts of our neighborhood are so strong that even our local acupuncturist is a performing artist, and he’s representing us on stages all over the world. 

So why did we seek to become an arts and cultural district and what do we hope to accomplish? 

Our neighborhoods have embodied the creative spirit since they were founded. We want to ensure that arts continue to be strong presence in our community, and that our artists and arts spaces are protected. We know that rapid development is coming to the south end, and that we have a golden window of opportunity to guide this growth so that it is inclusive and supportive of our rich and diverse creative community.  

Our mission for the district is to celebrate and enhance the authentic and culturally diverse soul of Columbia City and Hillman City. 

We envision an inclusive, expansive and thriving creative community. What will this look like?

We would like to see

  • A community where it’s possible for artists to make a living being an artist;
  • Affordable spaces for artists to live and work;
  • And affordable commercial spaces for them to do business.

 

 

We would like to see

  • Our existing cultural spaces preserved and protected; and
  • Dedicated space for arts and culture in all new development projects

And we would like to see

 

 

  • More arts programs for youth;
  • Arts programs and projects with racial and social equity as a primary driver;
  • And places for people from all of our diverse communities to enjoy their cultural traditions and share their stories through the arts. 

Each and every one of you has a role to play in supporting our Arts and Culture district. For many of you it means supporting the arts by attending events and exposing your kids to a wide range of arts experiences.  

This Arts and Culture district designation means that Columbia and Hillman Cities will continue to be a Creative Hub. A place where the creative economy can thrive, where artists are supported, and where neighbors have access to a variety of arts experiences. We understand that the arts are key to both community and economic development — and that a flourishing creative community makes our neighborhoods more livable, fun and beautiful. We are blessed with an incredibly rich diversity of peoples and cultures and art forms that make up the creative soul of the south end.

Cultural Space Incentive Zoning Update

The Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) is continuing to solicit feedback on the initial proposal to update Incentive Zoning. One of the options that they are hoping to solicit feedback on is adding a new option for developers to earn extra floor area by providing Cultural Space. This first round of public engagement is scheduled to continue until the end of September, so please share your thoughts and ideas with them around this exciting and important work.

As part of this work, draft standards for all public amenities are now available on OPCD’s website. The Proposed Amenity Standards document contains proposed requirements for location, access, layout, landscaping, furnishings, and other areas for 10 public amenities, such as urban plazas, hillclimb assists, and public bathrooms, that can be used to achieve extra floor area.

If you have any questions or comments on the Amenity Standards or the Incentive Zone Update, please contact Brennon Staley at brennon.staley@seattle.gov or (206) 684-4625.

New Arts Permit Liaison

Last year the Department of Construction and Inspections (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 the creation of an Arts Permit Liaison at SDCI, a new role designed to help shepherd cultural space projects through the permitting process. Our own Jeff McHegg has for the past two months been filling that role, 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 their roof.

If you have a cultural space project, no matter how well formed or how speculative, you should reach out to 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 brings decades of experience, and the resources of both 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, and to demystifying the experience of working with SDCI as a non-building professional. A thriving arts and cultural scene in Seattle is part of what makes this one of the country’s most livable cities. We’d like to keep it that way.

ARTS wants to know: Cultural Space needs survey

The more we know about your needs, the better we can create opportunities to serve you. We’ve asked you a lot about your cultural space needs, and we’ve spent five years designing policies, programs, and projects to address what we’ve heard. Your guidance to date has lead us to look at how a new independent organization, created by the City but living independently, could serve you and your cultural space needs. Help us define this new organization and target the opportunities it represents. Please take this simple survey and let us know more about how you interact with cultural space.

 

ARTS announces the inaugural exhibition at King Street Station, yəhaw’, opening winter 2018

Call for Indigenous Creatives, open March 5 – April 20, 2018

 

SEATTLE – In recognition of the Coast Salish peoples on whose land the City of Seattle is built, the Office of Arts & Culture is honored to open a new arts and cultural hub on the third floor of King Street Station this winter with the inaugural Indigenous-centered exhibition yəhaw̓. The title of the exhibition, yəhaw̓, is drawn from the Coast Salish story of Native people from all tribes uniting around a common cause and lifting up the sky together. In the spirit of the story, this exhibition will celebrate the depth and diversity of Indigenous art made in the Pacific Northwest.

King Street Station. Seattle, Washington.
ZGF Architects
© Benjamin Benschneider All rights Reserved. Usage rights may be arranged by contacting Benjamin Benschneider Photography. Email: bbenschneider@comcast.net or phone 206-789-5973

Reflecting on the Lifting the Sky story and the use of Indigenous language in the exhibition title, Puyallup tribal member Tami Hohn shared, “Our ancestors left us the gift of our traditional knowledge and beliefs by preserving our language. Using our language throughout our communities and projects, such as this, honors what our ancestors have done and keeps our language alive.” Tami is a Southern Lushootseed curriculum developer for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and has worked with the language for 25 years. Vi Hilbert’s telling of the Lifting the Sky story as part of the Spring Revels, can be viewed at http://bela.music.washington.edu/ethno/hilbert/voicesVideo.html

In preparation for the exhibition, curators Tracy Rector (Seminole/Choctaw), Asia Tail (Cherokee Nation), and Satpreet Kahlon opened a call for artwork in any media by Indigenous creatives living in the Pacific Northwest. All Indigenous creatives who apply will be included in the exhibition. The exhibition will be a collective portrait of Native America, including creatives of all ages and stages in their careers, from many tribal affiliations, working in a variety of creative mediums. yəhaw̓ celebrates all Native makers, and actively challenges the false divides between fine art and craft, Urban and Reservation, contemporary and traditional. For more information, including guidelines, eligibility, and the application please visit yehawshow.com

“When we open this winter, King Street Station will reflect our unique city, and hopefully become a national model for how arts and culture can support a truly equitable society, empowering individuals, artists, and organizations,” says Randy Engstrom, ARTS Director. “Opening the space with an exhibition that centers and celebrates Indigenous voices is an honor for our office and the first of many exhibitions and programs that will reflect our diverse Seattle community.”

The arts hub at King Street Station will be a new kind of space in which communities of color have increased opportunities to present their work, and be seen and heard. Grounded in community feedback, the programming and cultural space of King Street Station will be an incubator for artists and communities, experimenting with the best ways to respond to community needs in an ever-changing city. ARTS’ goal for King Street Station is to be a resource for the city and the embodiment of the Office’s commitment to racial equity.