This week Mayor Ed Murray sent the Seattle City Council a draft ordinance to create the Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District, the second Seattle neighborhood to be designated an 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, while stimulating a growing arts environment in the Central Area.
“The Central Area is has made enormous contributions to Seattle’s cultural identity, from the music of Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones to the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute,” says Mayor Murray. “The neighborhood’s arts heritage is felt far beyond our city boundaries. This designation honors our history and nurtures the Central Area arts community for the next generation.”
“This is the first step in preserving our legacy and officially designating the Central Area as a hub for black art and culture,” says Vivian Phillips, co-chair of the Central Area coalition and director of marketing and communications for the Seattle Theatre Group.
The Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District designation is dedicated to:
- Preserving an African-American legacy in the Central Area.
- Sustaining and strengthening the physical identity and sense of place for cultural relevancy.
- Establishing continued support of artistic creation, economic vibrancy, livability, affordability, desirability, and artistic vitality.
The arts district 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 towards the toolkit’s programs and resources for right-of-way identifiers, wayfinding, busking and plein air painting, art historic markers, pop-up activation and parklets. The toolkit was designed to support artists, art spaces, and neighborhoods in maintaining and investing in their cultural assets.
The Central Area is Seattle’s historically African-American neighborhood and a center for art, business and culture. The Central Area has been home to some of the world’s most respected arts and cultural organizations and artists, including the Northwest African American Museum, Africatown, the Seattle Black Arts Alliance, Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Theaster Gates, James Washington, Vitamin D, Ernestine Anderson, Ray Charles, Art Chantry, Black Heritage Society of Washington, CD Forum, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Coyote Central, RBG the CD, James and Janie Washington Foundation, and others.
Arts & Cultural Districts
The creation of 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.