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Square Feet 2019: Staying Power

On April 28-29, ARTS hosted the fourth installment of the Square Feet event. This roughly annual mini-conference explores different issues related to cultural space. This year the keynote speaker was Gus Newport, who spoke (at the Wing Luke Museum) about his work as a community organizer, a developer of affordable housing, and a cultural space creater in neighborhoods and cities across the country. His talk was streamed live and is archived here.

Karen Toering, Uche Okezie, and Gus Newport (L-R). Photo by Sunita Martini

The conference (at King Street Station) also included breakout sessions, a panel discussion, and the graduation of the 2018 Build Art Space Equitably (B.A.S.E.) Cohort. The sessions ended with the return of the Large Foam Check Challenge, an inclusive budgeting exercise that offered participants the opportunity to direct over $10,000 of ARTS spending towards a project of their devising. Last year, the funding was aimed towards the creation of a Tiny Cultural Space. That project is underway in partnership with Sawhorse Revolution and Estelita’s Library. This year the idea the group generated was about honoring and recording the oral histories of Indigenous people who are living in Seattle unhoused. The project, in partnership with urban Indian organizations, would directly pay participants for their stories.

Large Foam Check Challenge winners 2019. Photo by Sunita Martini

Structure for Stability (The PDA Report)

Following nearly two years of work and a significant Racial Equity Toolkit process, ARTS also presented its newest publication. Structure for Stability: Recommendations for Developing Affordable Community-Based Cultural Space provides an in-depth analysis of the challenges facing cultural spaces and artists’ spaces in Seattle and offers recommendations for the creation of a new, independent, mission-driven entity, to be capitalized through the Office of Arts & Culture’s bonding capacity, that will lease, develop, and hold real estate in partnership with community for use by artists and cultural organizations. The report is available here.