Seattle has a rich history of cultural innovation and creative risk taking. Our arts and culture are recognized around the world, and a robust creative workforce nourishes our entrepreneurial spirit. Seattle’s creative industries are one vital source of fuel that will drive our economy into the future. To ensure that racial and economic disparities don’t continue to grow, we need to build a creative economy that is inclusive of everyone.
Since its inception in 1991, Seattle’s Office of Film + Music, which operates within the Office of Economic Development (OED), has supported the heart of our city’s creative industries. With new challenges and disparities facing Seattle’s creatives, it is time to reconfigure, realign and reimagine the Office’s work and the role of government in our city’s economic health.
That’s why Mayor Durkan’s 2020 Proposed Budget includes investments to expand the City’s creative industry work by dedicating three new full-time employees. Two of those positions, including one newly funded position, will be in the creative industry program in OED, and one will be in the Office of Arts & Culture. All three positions will support the City’s creative industry work, which encompasses film, music, and media/graphic design.
“Our City has seen incredible growth and change over the past decade, and with that growth came many big city challenges, including displacement,” says Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “We’ve seen many artists and creative industry workers, particularly artists and workers of color, pushed out because they simply cannot afford to live in Seattle. That has hurts their ability to create, and present their work. We must invest in and prioritize filmmaking, arts, music, and culture in Seattle. That is why I’m making the Inclusive Creative Industry Program an economic priority for the City.”
For Seattle to thrive, we need to deepen, align, and expand our department partnerships and programs to better prepare our workforce, businesses, and infrastructure. We ground this work in a commitment to race and social justice, economic data, and deep community and industry listening.
To achieve those goals, the Office of Film + Music and its current staff will lead the new “Inclusive Creative Industry Program” as the citywide economic development priority. As part of OED, this team will leverage the resources and investments of other OED programs to further its work supporting creative industries. This new prioritization of the creative industries is reflected in the Mayor’s proposed budget. As part of this strategy, here is what we are proposing:
- The OFM director position will become the Inclusive Creative Industry Program Director and will report to OED’s Director. A national search will be conducted after budget approval.
- We will add three new staff positions to increase support and advocacy for the film and creative industries.
- Aligning with OED’s new Inclusive Creative Industry Program, the Creative Economy Advocate will become a full-time member of Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with OED’s Workforce Development Team and Inclusive Creative Industry Team.
- We will increase music industry advocacy and support through the combined efforts of the Music Commission’s work, the Inclusive Creative Industry Team, and OED and ARTS staff.
- The Nightlife Advocate position will remain with OED in the Inclusive Creative Industry Program.
- We will launch a new internship and career connected learning initiative in partnership between OED, ARTS, Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) and others
By building upon OED/OFM, DEEL, and ARTS’s connection between creative, art, technology, education, workforce, industry, and other related fields, we can prepare Seattle’s students and workforce to thrive now and in the future. We are deeply excited for this new body of work and look forward to collaborating with Washington Filmworks and King County to build an inclusive economy grounded in our creative communities and industries.
For more information about OED’s inclusive economy vision or reports from our community listening sessions, please sign up for our e-newsletter or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
By Bobby Lee, director Office of Economic Development and Randy Engstrom, director of the office of Arts & Culture