Mayor returns from trade mission to China and Japan

Trade mission to China & Japan

Mayor Ed Murray participated in a trade and cultural mission to China and Japan this month. The mission was part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships. Murray joined the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Washington State China Relations Council, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, the Port of Seattle, the University of Washington, and other local business on this trade mission to promote Seattle as a global hub for trade and innovation.

Seattle has deep cultural connections to China and Japan, and is home to thriving Chinese and Japanese communities. This trade and cultural mission reaffirms Seattle’s commitment to expanding economic opportunity and continuing cultural and educational exchanges between our countries.

Highlights from China:

  • Seattle and the City of Hangzhou signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support the promotion of technology and innovation, e-commerce, trade, economic development and life sciences. At this ceremony, Amazon China also signed an MOU with Hangzhou that will promote new opportunities for Seattle-based e-commerce companies in China.
  • Mayor Murray announced the signing of an MOU to support biomedical research and the establishment of a joint institute between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Shenzhen-based BGI, one of the world’s largest genomics organizations.
  • Mayor Murray joined Xiamen Airlines in announcing new non-stop service from Shenzhen to Seattle starting in September 2016. This new service is the result of work by the City and Port of Seattle to increase travel between the two economic hubs.
  • China’s largest residential property developer, China Vanke, announced that it will invest in a residential tower in Seattle’s downtown. This is the company’s first investment in Washington state.

Highlights from Japan

  • Mayor Murray spoke to more than 200 Japanese business leaders to promote investment and trade in Seattle at an event hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
  • Mayor Murray committed to stronger business partnerships with Keidanren, Japan’s largest and most influential economic organization, and the Japan Association of Travel Agents.
  • Mayor Murray joined Starbucks Japan CEO Jun Sekine and Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto to announce the opening of a flagship Starbucks store in Kobe’s Meriken Park. The new flagship store commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Kobe-Seattle Sister City relationship and the 50th anniversary of the Kobe-Seattle Sister Port relationship.
  • Mayor Murray visited Kobe’s Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution to discuss emergency preparedness and earthquake-grade building codes.
  • Mayor Murray and the First Gentleman met with Ms. Kanako Otsuji, Japan’s first and only openly gay member of the House of Councilors of the National Diet, and Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe, who led the passage of “partnership certificates” as a means to recognize same-sex marriage, to discuss LGBTQ rights and issues.

Photos from Mayor Murray’s trip available here.

Mayor Murray announces agreement with Shenzhen to advance biomedical research

Mayor Ed Murray announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Seattle and the City of Shenzhen, China, to support biomedical research and the establishment of a joint institute between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Shenzhen-based BGI, one of the world’s largest genomics organizations.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) commits both cities to greater cooperation on issues of medical research and health care. UW and BGI signed a separate MOU in Shenzhen agreeing to collaborate on development of the joint institute.

“This agreement between the Cities of Seattle and Shenzhen will encourage and support meaningful cooperation between two global leaders of innovation in medical research and technology,” Murray said. “Ultimately, it will create new opportunities for our biotech and health care industries, and help advance pioneering medical technology that will benefit patients, doctors and communities around the globe.”

“We at the UW are looking forward to working alongside BGI in charting the future of genomics research, especially in accelerating the application of new sequencing technologies to human health,” said Dr. Jay Shendure, an M.D./Ph.D scientist and professor of genome sciences at the UW, and a national advisor on precision medicine initiatives.

The joint institute is part of BGI’s goal of developing an innovation center in Seattle. The City of Seattle looks forward to working with BGI on the process to develop this significant addition to the city’s innovation economy.

Shenzhen, a coastal city of over 10 million people, is considered the high-tech and life sciences hub of China. “With a sound foundation in the fields of biotech and health technology, a host of well-positioned industries have taken shape in Shenzhen, including gene medicine, polypeptide medicine, anti-tumor medicine, medical imaging equipment and life information monitoring,” according to the MOU.

The MOU was signed during the third day of a Murray-led trade delegation to three cities in China, which includes Hong Kong and Hangzhou. The mission is part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships.

“We are thrilled to be part of this historic moment between Seattle and Shenzhen,” said Kristi Heim, president of the Washington State China Relations Council. “Deepening the partnerships between our two cities will support economic growth, scientific advancement and long-term collaboration in public health and environmental protection.”

The agreement builds on two earlier MOUs signed in 2015 between Seattle and Shenzhen pledging cooperation issues such as low carbon urban development, electric vehicles, information technology, life sciences, and people-to-people exchanges. Murray also hosted visits by Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin and former Deputy Mayor Tang Jie.

The trade delegation includes: Murray, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the Washington State China Relations Council, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, Vulcan, and the University of Washington.  They met with government officials and business representatives in Hong Kong and Shenzhen before Murray is joining a separate group of e-commerce companies on a trip organized by the Washington State China Relations Council to the City of Hangzhou.

For most of its history, Seattle has had deep cultural connections to China. Throughout the trip, Murray will seek to deepen those ties as he meets with local officials and business representatives.

Mayor Murray releases 20-year growth plan for Seattle


Mayor Ed Murray today transmitted his proposal to update Seattle’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan to the Seattle City Council. Seattle 2035 focuses on equitable growth as Seattle expects gain 120,000 residents, 115,000 jobs, and 70,000 housing units over the next two decades.

“Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and while this growth provides a booming economy, we must continue to focus that development in livable, walkable neighborhoods with the amenities that help people thrive,” said Murray. “With this comprehensive plan, we will build a more equitable future for all residents with better access to the affordable homes, jobs, transit, and parks that make Seattle vibrant.”

Development of Seattle 2035 has been ongoing since 2013. The final proposal was informed by thousands of comments, 57 public presentations and 2,600 people participating in public meetings.

Seattle 2035 includes goals and policies, including those that:

  • Guide more future growth to areas within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit
  • Continue the Plan’s vision for mixed-use Urban Villages and Urban Centers
  • Monitor future growth in greater detail, including data about racial disparities
  • Increase the supply and diversity of affordable housing consistent with the Mayor’s Housing Affordabibility and Livability Agenda (HALA)
  • Update how we measure the performance of the city’s transportation and parks systems
  • Integrate the City’s planning for parks, preschool, transit, housing, transportation, City facilities and services

Seattle 2035 incorporates principles of the City’s Equitable Development initiative and new policies in almost every element of the plan specifically identify ways in which the City can reduce the risk of displacement for marginalized populations and improve their access to opportunities.

The policies in the plan governing industrial lands remain relatively stable. The mayor has begun a series of conversations with industrial and maritime stakeholders to develop new supports for their industries while balancing other pressures on land use in the City.

The plan and related legislation will be introduced to the Seattle City Council’s Planning Land Use and Zoning committee, chaired by Councilmember Rob Johnson, later this month.

Seattle 2035 represents years of work by so many here at the City and also reflects the feedback of thousands of Seattle residents,” said Councilmember Johnson. “The City of Seattle has always used the Comprehensive Plan to set ambitious goals related to sustainability, and I am so glad to hear that this update reflects a similar degree of ambition to combat Seattle’s equity and affordability crisis. I look forward to seeing the final plan and bringing it before my fellow Councilmembers.”

Seattle is required by Washington State’s Growth Management Act to periodically update its Comprehensive Plan. The last major update of the plan was in 2004. Seattle 2035 is consistent with State and County growth policies.

In 1994, Seattle’s first Comprehensive Plan was approved. The 1994 Comprehensive Plan was based around an Urban Village strategy. The Urban Village strategy designated certain neighborhoods as Urban Centers or Urban Villages and encouraged the development of new housing, jobs, and transit options within these areas. Over the past 20 years, about 75 percent of new housing and jobs have located in Urban Villages or Urban Centers, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools deepen engagement, improve access to arts education

creative advantage

The City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools today announced the year two progress of their joint Creative Advantage arts education initiative. Arts integration and 21st Century Skill-development deepened in the Central Arts Pathway, and the South-Southwest Arts Pathway developed a long-term arts vision and plan for schools in the region.

The Creative Advantage is a unique public-private partnership between the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), Seattle Public Schools (SPS), The Seattle Foundation, and community arts partners. It is reinvesting in Seattle’s students and our community’s economic and creative future by intentionally and collaboratively addressing inequities in access to the arts and restoring arts education to all Seattle classrooms.

“We must invest in our students, and arts education is integral to their ability to problem solve, collaborate, think outside of the box and persevere,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We are approaching our education system holistically from pre-K through 12th grade, utilizing the city’s rich cultural organizations to help empower our youth and close the opportunity gap in the arts.”

“We know students learn best when their education engages their heads, their hearts and their minds,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools superintendent. “The Creative Advantage is a shining example of the district, the City and the community collaborating to give all students access to a well-rounded education.”

Arts are recognized as a core academic subject by the State of Washington and are included in the current Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan. In alignment with these state and district policies, the goal of the Creative Advantage is to address the systemic barriers to student access to arts and ensure that every student has arts integrated into their education, starting in kindergarten. The long term goal is that all Seattle students will have access to a continuum of arts learning opportunities.

In March 2013, The Creative Advantage began implementation in the Central Arts Pathway, all schools that feed into and out of Washington Middle School. In 2014-15, The Creative Advantage began planning in the South-Southwest pathway, all schools that feed into and out of Denny International Middle School.

Highlights from the Creative Advantage Year Two Evaluation report include:

  • Developed a regional arts plan for South-Southwest Pathway schools.
  • Created a professional development series and annual institute for teaching artist and teachers with arts partner Seattle Art Museum.
  • In 2015-16, all K-5 students have access to music instruction in the Central Arts Pathway.
  • Increased the number of arts instructional minutes at the elementary level in the Central Arts Pathway by 200 percent from 2013 to 2015.
  • 26 residencies at 12 schools increasing student learning from teaching artists and arts organizations.
  • 34 percent increase from 2014 in student demonstration of 21st Century Learning Skills in Central Arts Pathway classrooms.
  • Increased partnerships with community organizations leading to culturally-responsive teaching and learning in Central Arts Pathway schools.

SPS and ARTS will continue to deepen integrated arts learning and close the access gap in the two Creative Advantage Arts Pathways, which includes 23 schools.

There is a Creative Advantage Advisory Group comprised of school staff, program leaders and community members to hold the program accountable and provide feedback. The City has prioritized this program through new staff capacity and an investment of $1.5 million in the program to date.

The School District has invested $1.75 million in increased staffing, supplies and professional development, while there has been increased capacity through fundraising from grants, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Laird Norton Family Foundation and the Clowes Fund, foundations and individuals to date.

To read the full report, click here:

The Creative Advantage can be found online at, at and on twitter @SeattleArtsEd.

Mayor Murray introduces first phase of ‘Shared Vision for Lake City’

Mayor Ed Murray has unveiled the first proposal of the Shared Vision for Lake City. The measure calls for expanded pedestrian access, rezones within the Lake City hub urban village and along Lake City Way, and more flexible uses of commercial space.

“By working directly with community groups and advocates, we are creating a stronger and more walkable Lake City business district,” said Murray. “This proposal builds on Lake City’s main street character, by expanding the neighborhood center through better walking connections and more commercial opportunities. As Seattle grows, it is important that we work together to create a compelling vision for the future that reflects the needs of our neighborhoods.”

It has been estimated that Seattle will add 120,000 residents and 115,000 jobs in the next 20 years. As housing development has grown in Seattle’s Urban Villages and Urban Centers, investments in neighborhood amenities have not always kept pace.

“This innovative initiative reflects Lake City’s ongoing commitment to economic vitality and commercial vibrancy,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez, who represents the Lake City community. “Lake City will become more modern and pedestrian-friendly, enhancing our unique sense of community and livability.”

In February of this year, Mayor Murray announced that Lake City would be the first neighborhood to work with the new Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) on an integrated approach involving all City departments and expanded community input.  Today’s announcement marks the first implementation of the Shared Vision for Lake City that will help create more pedestrian oriented-neighborhood as property develops.

These rezones, which do not include height increases, would:

  • Change Commercial 1 zoning to Neighborhood Commercial 3 zoning within the hub urban village and along Lake City Way between NE 97th Street and NE 143rd
  • Change multifamily residential zoning to neighborhood commercial zoning along NE 125th
  • Expand the existing pedestrian designation approximately three blocks to the west and one block to the north, requiring active street-level uses.
  • Allow more flexibility for ground floor uses outside of the business core.
  • Create new development standards that will control building bulk on large lots.

These proposals are the result of a collaborative process between City departments and Lake City Future First, which is comprised of several community groups, service providers, business and property owners. Input about the desired character of Lake City was received from numerous community groups and at a variety of community meetings over the past three years.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the City to address the issues of all the people who live and work in Lake City,” said Chris Leverson, Executive Director of Lake City Future First. “We hope that the proposed Lake City development standards will help create a more pedestrian-oriented neighborhood over time.”

Upcoming priorities to be addressed in the Shared Vision for Lake City will include community input for creating a more vibrant business district, providing new workforce housing, additional senior services, a new pre-school, installing new sidewalks with natural drainage systems, and increased programming for young people through Seattle Parks and Recreation. Additionally, City staff will coordinate with Lake City Future First and the broader community to prioritize sidewalk locations that provide safe routes to school.

More information about the proposed zoning changes is available here.  For further questions, please contact Katie Sheehy, planner at the Office of Planning and Community Development: or (206) 684-5345.

Murray announces Get Moving Fund awards to local partners

children playing

Mayor Ed Murray today announced that Seattle Parks and Recreation will award $112,500 to 13 local agencies through the Get Moving Fund to support access to healthy recreational opportunities throughout the city.

“We are pleased to work with community organizations all across Seattle to bring fun and fitness programming to every neighborhood,” said Mayor Murray. “These groups foster and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our city. With their help, kids and adults will have better access to dance, sports and outdoors activities.”

The Get Moving Fund is a reimbursable grant from Seattle Parks and Recreation that supports local nonprofit organizations, small businesses and community groups in offering innovative and culturally relevant events and projects to increase participation in community sports, recreation and physical fitness activities that serve under-resourced communities. The goal of the Get Moving Fund is to increase participation and opportunities for physical activities, prioritizing neighborhoods where health disparities are prevalent.

This is the first year that Seattle Parks and Recreation is offering the Get Moving Fund. This year’s grant awards will support an array of projects and activities, including youth soccer programs, African Diaspora dance classes for girls and women, training for youth to be sports coaches and referees, and intergenerational father and son activities.

The following projects or agencies have been selected to receive Get Moving Fund grant awards:

  • Fathers and Sons Together ($15,000) to support camps and intergenerational fathers-and-sons activities, primarily with African American communities.
  • Latino Community Fund ($15,000) to develop community partnerships and trainings for youth to become coaches and referees.
  • Duwamish Rowing Club ($15,000) to support rowing programs, with a focus on Latino youth.
  • Horn of Africa ($15,000) to support youth soccer programs, with a focus on East African youth.
  • Austin Foundation ($10,000) to support intergenerational family fitness activities.
  • Garinagu Hounga ($10,000) to support Central American dance activities, with a focus on Afro Latino communities.
  • Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club ($7,500) to support fitness and dance camps for youth.
  • Lao Women Association ($7,000) to support cultural dance activities relevant to Asian cultures.
  • SeaMar ($5,000) to support youth soccer programs, with a focus on Latino youth.
  • World Mind Creation ($3,000) to support youth-led projects and dance wellness workshops.
  • Nailah Harris ($5,000) to support multi-cultural dance classes for youth and adults.
  • Young Women Empowered ($2,500) to support African Diaspora dance classes for girls and women.
  • Deflora Walks Transformation Experience ($2,500) to support walking and healthy lifestyle activities for low-income communities and immigrant and refugee populations.

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Get Moving Fund is made possible by funding from the Seattle Park District. Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Park District provides more than $47 million a year in long-term funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation, including maintenance of parklands and facilities, operation of community centers and recreation programs, and development of new neighborhood parks on previously-acquired sites.

Murray announces engagement plan for King Street Station

King St. exterior

Today Mayor Ed Murray announced a public engagement plan to visualize how the city can begin to transform the upper floors of King Street Station into a cultural hub in 2017. Beginning in May, a six-month series of focus groups and public meetings will culminate in a plan that will identify the greatest needs of the Seattle cultural community, using a race and social justice lens.

“King Street Station is an unprecedented opportunity to create a vibrant regional hub for arts and culture,” says Mayor Murray. “This project will preserve a landmark building and provide permanent cultural space in our rapidly growing city. By viewing this project through a race and social justice lens, the new space will draw on the richness of the community all around it – from Pioneer Square, the Chinatown/International District, and beyond.”

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with the Office of Economic Development and Seattle Department of Transportation will create permanent cultural space at King Street Station with a phased opening in 2017 and 2018. A website was launched in support of the project at

Throughout the spring and summer, ARTS will engage in inclusive, city-wide conversations overseen by the Seattle Arts Commission to identify the needs and ideas to create a cultural hub on the upper floors of King Street Station. The public engagement process will utilize the city’s Race and Social Justice Toolkit to equitably make sure the space meets the needs of the community and surrounding neighborhoods. There will be a number of public events to gather community feedback. Following the public conversations, ARTS will draft a King Street Station Cultural Plan and present findings and recommendations to the public next year. This plan further enhances the quality of life component in the ongoing conversation about the Housing Affordability Livability Agenda (HALA) conducted by the Department of Neighborhoods.

“The Chinatown-International District in partnership with Pioneer Square is beginning work on an activation strategy and plan from Little Saigon to the Waterfront. This opportunity will immensely add to the existing programming in benefit of both neighborhoods,” said Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director at the Wing Luke Museum, and Seattle Arts Commissioner. “In the life of our city, this is a critical time for community, arts and culture and businesses to rally together around providing public benefit and access for a broad swath of our residents and visitors.”

“Preserving King Street Station as permanent cultural space is an amazing opportunity,” said Randy Engstrom, director Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. “Not only will King Street Station serve as a transportation hub, it will now be an arts and culture nexus for the region, and will demonstrate to visitors coming to Seattle by rail how the City values arts and culture.”

Funded through an increased admissions tax allocation supported by both Mayor Murray and City Council, the new cultural space will open in phases beginning in mid-2017. The increase in admissions tax allocation also preserves the city’s cultural funding and public art programs, so there will be no cuts to existing ARTS office resources and programs.

King Street Station is a public asset that is an important part of Seattle’s history. It first opened to the public in May 1906. Reed and Stem, the architectural firm responsible for New York City’s historic Grand Central Terminal, designed the station. For over one hundred years it has served as a gateway for millions of travelers coming into Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The station has spurred economic growth and helped establish Seattle as a major metropolitan city. From 2008 to 2013, King Street Station underwent extensive renovations that restored the building’s historic grandeur, upgraded the facilities and enhanced passenger safety and security.

Photo Credit: Exterior of King Street Station by Ben Benschneider, courtesy of SDOT.

Join Mayor Murray for this year’s Find It, Fix It Community Walks

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Today Mayor Ed Murray announced the schedule for his 2016 Find It, Fix It Community Walks to occur in seven neighborhoods this summer and fall. Now in its third year, the walks bring together City officials, business owners, and community members to address each neighborhood’s needs.

“These walks provide a unique opportunity for community members to identify neighborhood needs and discuss challenges directly with City leaders,” said Mayor Murray. “Together we invest in a spirit of engagement and community volunteerism. Find It, Fix It Community Walks are one way the City can support neighbors committed to improving their own communities. I look forward to working with community members this year to make these walks a success.”

This year’s Find It Fix It walks will be held in:

  • Aurora/Licton Springs– Early June
  • Belltown – Late June
  • Roxhill – July
  • Judkins Park – August
  • Crown Hill – September
  • Georgetown – October
  • Wallingford – Mid-November

Each walk will follow a route determined by community members on Community Walk Action Teams convened by the Department of Neighborhoods. Specific dates and locations will be announced two weeks prior to each walk.

If you are interested in becoming part of a Community Walk Action Team to help plan a walk in one of the seven neighborhoods, contact the Find It, Fix It Program Coordinator, Hilary Nichols, at, (206) 386.1907.

The City will continue to offer Community Project Grants for every walk, which provide up to $5,000 to support community-led revitalization and beautification projects. In 2015, 166 community volunteers, with assistance from City staff, completed 18 projects around the city. Projects included painting a mural on a public staircase in South Park, constructing a community kiosk in Cascade, and planting flowers in Hillman City.

Mayor Murray spearheaded the Find It, Fix It Community Walks in 2014 in partnership with Cities of Service, a national nonprofit that works with cities to provide support and training to encourage civic volunteerism.

Whether your neighborhood is part of this year’s walks or not, community members can report safety needs or city maintenance issues anytime with the Find It, Fix It mobile app. Android users can download the app from the Google Play Store and iPhone users can download it from the App Store.

Arts in the Parks grants support community festivals, art installations

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture in conjunction with Seattle Parks and Recreation today announced $198,400 in funding awards and artist selections for the “Put the Arts in Parks” pilot program. One of the first programs for the new Seattle Park District, the grant will provide support for arts festivals, events, and temporary art installations in parks across the city.

“Seattle’s parks and natural beauty are the centerpiece of our vibrant city,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “The Seattle Park District is key to activating and improving that amazing legacy. ‘Put Arts in Parks,’ one of the first projects funded by the district, celebrates all our city’s diverse cultures in our open spaces.”

This pilot program will support 24 events organized by neighborhood arts councils and community-based groups that are seeking to activate Seattle parks with new and established festivals or events that promote arts and cultural participation.

These events and installations will activate and encourage vibrant cultural work done in and by communities throughout Seattle. Highlights include:

  • Othello Park International Music and Arts Festival, a showcase of southeast Seattle’s rich cultural heritage featuring authentic music, dance and food from East Africa, the South Pacific Islands, the Filipinas, and Latin America (August)
  • Jimi in the Park, celebrating the re-opening of Jimi Hendrix Park and the opening of the Northwest African American Museum’s exhibition Jimi in the Park (September)
  • The Art & Culture of Lucha Libre, a celebration of one of the most popular sports in Mexico—wrestling with high-flying, acrobatic moves in South Park (July)
  • Luminata Lantern Walk at Green Lake, an annual autumnal celebration that boasts an illuminated, hand-built lantern parade (September).

“Thanks to Seattle voters and the Seattle Park District, the ‘Put Arts in Parks’ program provides a great opportunity for art and artists to activate and energize neighborhood parks,” said Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation. “We look forward to collaborating with artists and community organizations on this program. This is one of many projects and improvements funded by the Seattle Park District throughout the city.”

In addition seven artists have been selected to create temporary artworks in parks across the city. Selected artists include Barbara de Pirro, Ryan Feddersen, Sierra Graves, Elsie Koncsek, Blanca Santander, Melissa Koch, and Anne-Marie Stillion. Artworks will be installed throughout 2016.

Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Park District provides more than $47 million a year in long-term funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation including maintenance of parklands, facilities, operation of community centers and recreation programs, and development of new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites. 2016 marks the first full year of funding available from the Seattle Park District. For more information regarding projects funded by the Parks District, please visit

For more information on funding opportunities and the Office of Arts & Culture, go here:

Mayor Murray signs legislation creating Central Area Arts and Cultural District

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Mayor Murray signed legislation today creating the Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District, the second Seattle neighborhood to be named a designated Arts & Cultural District. The Central Area is a center of African-American heritage and history as well as a neighborhood undergoing rapid change. The Arts District designation recognizes the culturally rich neighborhood and seeks to preserve its character.

“With this designation, we recognize the importance of the Central Area and the contributions of African Americans to Seattle’s rich and diverse cultural traditions as we seek to both honor and shape the legacy of the neighborhood,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We also seek to build a vibrant arts environment and opportunities for creative industries to thrive in the Central Area for years to come.”

“The idea of an arts and cultural district in the Central Area actually predates the recent efforts to establish these districts,” said Steve Sneed, Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District co-chair. “We’ve talked about and dreamt about something like this for more than 20 years, and now we’ve been able to turn that into action.”

The Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District designation is dedicated to:

  • Preserving an African and African-American legacy in the Central Area.
  • Sustaining and strengthening the physical identity and sense of place for Black cultural relevancy.
  • Establishing continued support of artistic creation, economic vibrancy, livability, affordability, desirability and artistic vitality.

“The heritage of African-Americans in the Central Area has served this city in so many ways and now we have an opportunity to bring new life and meaning to a sacred past, and to be a force that helps to shape the future,” said Stephanie Johnson-Toliver of the Black Heritage Society of Washington. “The arts offers unlimited opportunity to stand firm in the present while giving honor to the past, and creating new paths to the future.”

The arts district designation creates access to the Creative Placemaking Toolkit, a suite of tools designed to preserve, strengthen, and expand arts and cultural places. The district will have access to $50,000 to be used towards the toolkit’s programs: signs to identify neighborhood borders and provide directions to significant places and landmarks; music and art in public places; pop-up activation; and parklets. The toolkit was designed by the Seattle Office Arts and Culture to support artists, art spaces, and neighborhoods in maintaining and investing in their cultural assets.

Central Area

The Central Area is Seattle’s historically African-American neighborhood and in a rapidly changing environment remains the nucleus for black art, business and culture. The Central Area has been home to some of the world’s most respected artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Theaster Gates, James Washington, Vitamin D, Ernestine Anderson, Ray Charles, Art Chantry and numerous others.

The Arts District is home to many arts and cultural organizations including:


Ariel Productions

Black Dot

The Black Heritage Society of Washington State

Brownbox Theater

Central Cinema

The Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas

Cortona Café

Coyote Central

Hidmo Cypher

Hollow Earth Radio

The James and Janie Washington Foundation

Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation

Lake Chad Café

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute

New Urban Unlimited

Northwest African American Museum

Pipsqueak Gallery

Pratt Fine Arts

RBG the CD

The Seattle Black Arts Alliance


Arts & Cultural Districts

The creation of the Arts & Cultural District program stems from the recommendations of the Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee’s June 2009 report, which was accepted and endorsed by Seattle City Council with Resolution 31155 in August 2009. City Council found that a district plan benefits the city because arts and cultural activities serve as a major economic engine for Seattle, and provide an invaluable quality of life that other activities cannot duplicate. The program launched in November of 2014 with the adoption of City Council Resolution 31555 and the creation of the Capitol Hill Arts District.