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A Look Back at the Created Commons Launch During The City’s Welcome Back Weeks

ARTS’ new program, Created Commons, recently launched as a part of the City of Seattle’s Welcome Back Weeks. Spanning two weekends from July 12 – 26, the Welcome Back Weeks celebrated the return of our community to downtown Seattle with large-scale Created Commons events in three neighborhoods — the Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square, and Westlake. Welcome Back Weeks are a key element of the City’s  Road to Downtown Recovery plan, which works to bring workers, small businesses, and visitors back downtown.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the festivities:

Welcome Back to the Chinatown-International District

On July 17 and 18, Hing Hay Park came to life with vibrant arts and culture celebrating the beauty of the Chinatown-International District.

Featured programming included:

  • The Chinese Association presenting a drill team, martial arts demo, and lion dance
  • Chrysalis Circus
  • Massive Monkees
  • Daniel Pak
  • Totem Star artists FRESA, Kiddus Fecto; Grae Violett, Lily Indigo, and Yung Fuego
  • Guma’ Gela’
  • Chong the Nomad
  • Bleachbear; Guma’ Gela’
  • Evan Flory Barnes
  • Hollis

Plus all-day activities and pop-ups such as Party Hat Gallery’s screen printing station featuring artwork by Stevie Shao, a self-defense class, and a vaccine pop-up with the Seattle Fire Department.

“I personally didn’t realize how much the Welcome Back Week shows would impact me as an artist until I was on stage at Hing Hay Park looking out into the crowd as I started my first song, realizing I would be singing songs for my family and my community. [It was my] first time onstage since the pandemic shut everything down in 2020.

Special thanks to Jenny Ku at ARTS for championing youth voice and culture, as she advocated strongly to get youth artists on the stages at Hing Hay, Occidental, and Westlake. Witnessing Totem Star artists bring so much love and joy to the community shows us how far we’ve come and also where we need to go to ensure that young people have a platform to share their stories and perspectives as the future cultural leaders of Seattle.” 

Daniel Pak, artist and Executive Director of Totem Star

“The Created Commons event was amazing! Hing Hay Park was full of people excited to be back together enjoying shows and we were one of them. It felt wonderful to be up on the stage again. In fact, after such a long hiatus from playing live shows during the pandemic, we were probably more pumped to be playing a show than any time we could remember! While it felt new in ways, it was also comfortable and familiar, and it just felt awesome to see familiar faces from past shows singing along with us. Pulling together events in City parks with local performers was a brilliant way to get the community connected again, and we were so glad to be a part of it.” 

Bleachbear, artist

Welcome Back to Pioneer Square

Photo by Jenny Crooks

On Saturday, July 24, we spent the afternoon in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, Pioneer Square. Occidental Square was buzzing with live music, local art, and community. Welcome Back to Pioneer Square featured performances by Totem Star artists Sharmaine and Haley Graves, Shenandoah Davis, Shaina Shepherd, and The Black Tones.  

Plus, activities and pop-ups such as:

  • Live busking
  • Path With Art’s “Found Fashion Show” courtesy of Path With Art
  • Party Hat Party’s free screen printing booth highlighting artwork by Tariqa Waters
  • Seattle Fire Department’s Vaccine Pop-Up

Welcome Back to Westlake

Welcome Back Weeks came to a successful end at our last event in the heart of downtown Seattle, Westlake Park. Centering on the theme “Halloween in July,” Westlake was full of people in costumes, downtown businesses offering candy for trick-or-treating, and much more.

Program highlights included:

  • UP UP UP Inc.
  • Fraggle Rock Crew
  • SANCA Seattle Cirrus Circus
  • Taqueet$ Thriller Dance Class
  • El Vez, The Mexican Elvis
  • Teatro ZinZanni
  • Totem Star Artists Zoser, Mirabai Kukathas, and Delphine Elliott
  • Digable Planets

All day, audiences could also enjoy activities and pop-ups such as Lelavision, Party Hat Party’s free screen printing station with artist Brandon Vosika, a pop-up with Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery, carnival games, a costume contest, food trucks, and a Seattle Fire Department vaccine pop-up.

Thaddeus Turner (Thaddillac) performing with Digable Planets by Sunny Martini

“What a way to give the communities hope through art — lots going on and changing faster. It was a nice break  thanks to you and all the people that got down! It was fun, most importantly.”

Thaddeus Turner (Thaddillac), Co-Founder of Totem Star and Music Director for Digable Planets

We were thrilled to close out the Welcome Back Weeks festivities with the iconic hip-hop trio, Digable Planets! Westlake Park was filled to the brim with audiences anticipating their closing performance.

Share Your Feedback

Calling all artists, performers, booth vendors, and community members who participated in this event:

Please take this brief survey about the impact of Created Commons! Your feedback will allow us to assess our programs and improve future programming with the community’s needs and suggestions in mind. Thank you! 

Over the two weeks, over 15,000 people visited downtown Seattle to participate in the three events. Highlights from the festivities include:

  • An estimated 5,700 people attended our three events: 2,000 at Hing Hay, 700 at Occidental Square, and 3,000 at Westlake Park
  • 200 creative workers were hired with 90% of the City-hired creative workers identifying as women, LGBTQ+ and/or people of color
  • Vaccination were given to 52 new people, courtesy of the SFD vaccine pop-up
  • 500 downtown small businesses were supported and involved, with 80% being owned by women and/or people of color

You can see more outcomes from the Welcome Back Weeks on the Downtown Recovery website.

Stay tuned as Created Commons partners with the Seattle Department of Transportation to bring you more unique arts experiences in neighborhoods such as Othello, Rainier Beach, Westwood, Pioneer Square, and the Chinatown-International District!