Creating, Activating and Preserving Cultural Space

I am proud to present The CAP Report: 30 Ideas for the Creation, Activation, and Preservation of Cultural Space.

Seattle is a dynamic arts and culture center. With 800 independent arts and culture venues in the city where Seattle can dance, listen, see, think, and absorb the rich creativity that courses through the arts community and energizes the city at large, we are now nationally recognized as an arts leader.

Our breathtaking growth in recent years is a sign of that success, making it clear what a magnetic cultural hub we’ve become. However, our exponential growth has created challenges, including a serious strain on affordability. Ironically, the rising rents that have accompanied our success and growth, threaten the very cutting edge arts spaces and institutions that have made Seattle a dynamic destination city in the first place.

To address our housing affordability crisis, my unprecedented Housing Affordability and Livability (HALA) legislation requires developers to contribute to affordable housing whenever they build. By coupling growth and affordability with progressive public policy like HALA, we will grow as an inclusive and equitable city.

The arts are a vital component of the “Livability” in HALA’s policy mandate. Our mission to be an affordable, and therefore inclusive and equitable city, must emphasize the thriving arts culture that defines our community.

In 2014 I instructed various departments to work collaboratively with the Arts Office and to engage with the community to develop solutions to the root issues that confront us as a thriving cultural center. What you see here is the result of that work.

The ideas explored here to support Seattle’s invaluable arts community reflect a much broader commitment: Supporting Seattle’s arts is at its heart about supporting Seattle’s soul. And that means ensuring inclusion for the creative artists who make Seattle thrive.

We look forward to your support of this developing project, and to working with you to refine the ideas contained herein. Together we will build a more inclusive Seattle. We will build a more equitable Seattle. We will build a more resilient, more culturally rich, and more artistically vital Seattle. We will build the Seattle that Seattleites deserve.



Edward B. Murray

Office of Arts & Culture releases report to Create, Activate, and Preserve Cultural Space in Seattle

Report unveils ideas to strengthen Seattle’s cultural community


SEATTLE (June 8, 2017) — The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with over 40 organizations, city departments and individuals created The CAP Report, 30 ideas and recommendations for the creation, activation, and preservation of cultural space. Advancing the city’s agenda of housing affordability and livability, The CAP Report seeks to define opportunities to increase cultural space, equitably support creative innovation, strengthen neighborhoods and preserve the culturally rich traditions of the city.

“The arts are a vital component of the “Livability” in HALA’s policy mandate,” says Mayor Murray. “Our mission to be an affordable, and therefore inclusive and equitable city, must emphasize the thriving arts culture that defines our community.”

Included in the report’s seven areas of exploration are certifying cultural space, potential code changes, recommendations for the permitting process, and interdepartmental collaboration for technical assistance. All seven areas of action explore ideas that the City, developers and organizations could utilize to create, activate, and preserve cultural space.

The CAP Report is an inspirational document and serves as a roadmap for the Office of Arts & Culture’s Cultural Space Program. The City is dedicated to exploring new ways to support the cultural vitality of the community including a number of ideas from the report. Several of the ideas generated in the report are a result of community outreach and will be explored by the City for feasibility.

Certify Cultural Space: In the same vein as LEED certified buildings, there could be an innovative program that certifies buildings and individual specialists who create or preserve cultural space. The program could increase cultural space in development projects, strengthen neighborhood ties to businesses and preserve the culture and heritage of the community.

Potential Code Changes: There are a number of opportunities to encourage the creation of cultural space in new and existing buildings with changes to the city’s building code. These changes could result in protecting arts and cultural venues who are vulnerable to development driven displacement and increase their viability.

Permitting Process recommendations: Streamline and possibly subsidize the permitting process for cultural space, removing barriers to small, locally owned businesses.

Technical assistance collaboration: ARTS is working on a series of technical tools to help developers interested in creating or incorporating cultural space. In addition ARTS is working with other city departments and community groups to provide resources to promote space making.

Image credit Joe Iano

Square Feet 2015: Where Next?

June 1, 2015, 1 – 6 p.m.
Mad Art, South Lake Union
325 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

A half-day exploration of cultural space issues: Where is Seattle’s Next Arts Neighborhood?

Seattle’s arts-rich neighborhoods are changing. New developments are increasing occupancy costs and decreasing the portfolio of older, smaller, more eccentric spaces. Multiple changes – in zoning, demographics, development potential, and the collective surfing of the largest, longest, broadest development wave this town has ever seen – have resulted in a potential for cultural displacement that will change the face of Seattle. Again.

Artists and arts organizations find affordable, hip, often forgotten creative new spaces in new neighborhoods, and when they do so in significant numbers The Next Arts Neighborhood is born. The City has an interest in assisting them in that search. Additionally, there is a desire to get out in front of The next arts neighborhood with tools that could assist those artists and groups, many years down the road, in resisting the displacement pressure that their own success could bring.

Where are the arts going next in Seattle? This half-day forum will attempt to find out. We’ll hear from planners, demographers, transit experts, and neighborhood representatives, in addition to commercial property brokers, artists, and arts organizations on the move. Yet again, the arts need a new neighborhood. It feels like in the past 30 years we’ve been through Pioneer Square, through Belltown, through South Lake Union, and through Capitol Hill. Where next? Come and be a part of the conversation, REGISTER HERE by Tuesday, May 26

From the creative workspace of Matthew Richter, Cultural Space Liason.