Five years ago, a group of citizens was appointed by City Council to study the issue of cultural space. In June 2009, the Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee presented their report to City Council, which was officially adopted with City Council Resolution 31155. One of the report’s top-level recommendations was the creation of an Arts & Cultural Districts program.
Following this resolution, and more current research and outreach, including a survey, forums and community event, Capitol Hill has been named Seattle’s first Arts District, as part of the City of Seattle’s new Arts & Cultural Districts program. Capitol Hill was selected because of its density of artists and arts organizations.
As the first Arts District, Capitol Hill will be the site of the launch for the Arts & Culture Districts program, which will take place on November 15 at 11 a.m. at Hugo House. A group artwork curated by Amanda Manitach will be unveiled, and Councilmember Nick Licata, Randy Engstrom of the Office of Arts & Culture, and Michael Seiwerath of Capitol Hill Housing will speak. After the program, many Capitol Hill culture locations will host open houses in the early afternoon.
Capitol Hill, and future Cultural Districts, will have access to the new Creative Placemaking Toolkit, a suite of tools designed for increased walkability, stronger arts marketing, improved cultural wayfinding, and to preserve and expand arts and cultural spaces. This Toolkit was developed following the award of $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program. The City will pilot the Toolkit in Capitol Hill, and will continue to add Districts over the coming years as the program expands city-wide.
The Toolkit includes programs and resources for right-of-way identifiers, wayfinding, busking and plein air painting, art historic markers, pop-up activation, and parklets. As the program tests and develops these tools, they will evolve, change and grow. Ultimately the toolkit will support artists, art-spaces, and neighborhoods in maintaining and investing in their cultural assets.