Capitol Hill was formally designated as the first Arts and Cultural District in Seattle, announced on November 3rd. Congratulations to everyone who brought this initiative forward over the past 5 years.
Per the Office of Arts & Culture media release, this follows the creation of the Arts & Cultural Districts program which celebrates a density of artists and arts organizations in various neighborhoods. The presence of arts and cultural programming in a neighborhood increases vibrancy, walkability and livability, characteristics that undoubtedly describe Capitol Hill, which was named one of America’s Top Twelve Artplaces in 2013, communities that successfully combine the arts, artists, and venues for creativity and expression with independent businesses, and restaurants. The kick-off celebration was held on November 15th at Hugo House.
Over the course of the past 35 years, a diverse group of arts and cultural organizations have been re-occupying a formerly light-industrial area known as “auto row.” The District is now home to over 40 arts and cultural organizations. At the same time, the neighborhood is experiencing rapid change and gentrification. Existing arts organizations are under real threat of being displaced by rising rents and redevelopment. Capitol Hill is increasingly perceived as being in danger of losing its history as a cultural hub.
The City of Seattle, in collaboration with the Capitol Hill Housing and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, and in consultation with over a dozen arts organizations, is launching the Capitol Hill Arts District in an attempt to retain the cultural vibrancy in this unique neighborhood.
Arts & Cultural Districts
The creation of Arts & Cultural District program stems from the recommendations of the Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee’s June 2009 report, which was accepted and endorsed by Seattle City Council with Resolution 31155 in August 2009. City Council found that a district plan benefits the city because arts and cultural activities serve as a major economic engine for Seattle, and provide an invaluable quality of life that other activities cannot duplicate.