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Launching a Cultural Space Program with Matthew Richter

The Office of Arts & Culture has been working on the issue of cultural space for many years (recent documents have come to light showing that it was actually one of the first initiatives of the Seattle Arts Commission (SAC) when they were formed in the early 1970s). More recently, the SAC committee on finance and economic development has been moving the issue forward with their work on Cultural Space Seattle forum in 2011 and the follow up event in 2012 along with guiding policy issues and resources. We’re thrilled to announce that we are now able to add a staff position to support this work so that we can move it forward on a day-to-day level.

Our new cultural space liaison will serve as a project manager and liaison with various city departments like the Department of Planning and Development for work on city codes and policies in place for the development and maintenance of cultural spaces within the city, and will also launch a new space finder tool that will connect artists and arts organizations to available spaces for development, rehearsal, or presentation of their work. The position will also promote the economic activity generated by arts and cultural activities; and educate citizens, property owners and developers on the importance of the arts regarding property values and neighborhood character.

Matthew Richter at a Storefronts spaceIt’s a big job. And we’ve hired a great person to do it: arts entrepreneur, Matthew Richter has founded and directed successful nonprofit arts organizations, including the Rm 608 Gallery for Visual and Performing Arts and the Consolidated Works contemporary arts center. He served on the boards of Allied Arts and the National Arts and Technology Network, and has lectured at the University of Washington and Seattle University. Matthew comes to us most recently as the program manager of Shunpike’s Storefronts, a community and neighborhood support program that places artists and arts projects into vacant storefronts spaces in Seattle and cities around the Pacific Northwest.

Matthew has extensive cultural space experience: he has launched, directed, and completed three major capital campaigns to build arts facilities, the most recent of which, a $500,000 campaign for Consolidated Works, created a 32,000 square foot contemporary arts facility in a 1944 warehouse in South Lake Union, containing a 150-seat theater, a 50-seat cinema, a 4,000 square foot gallery, a 300-person music and lecture hall, three artist-in-residence studios, six offices for fellow nonprofits, a full bar and lounge, an arts resource room, and rehearsal and meeting spaces. Additionally, he has commissioned and produced over 20 world-premiere mainstage theater performances, and three short films and was the co-producer of 14/48, the world’s quickest theater festival, for almost a decade.

 We’re thrilled to welcome Matthew aboard and continue our work in the area of cultural space.