$82.5K grant will help Africatown continue Midtown Center art and activation project

Kids set about painting Midtown Center this summer as part of the Africatown art project (Image: CHS)

Central District community organization Africatown will receive a $82,500 grant from the city to continue its work creating an artful installation celebrating the block’s history and marking the coming redevelopment at 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center.

The grant was part of some $900,000 in funding awarded across the city announced Wednesday through the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Neighborhood Matching Fund.

The Africatown grant will go toward creation of “a temporary neighborhood hub” called Imagine Africatown Fall Winter Activation at Midtown that “celebrates the African American/African Diaspora legacy and culture in the Central District through art, pop-up events, and other programming.” The grant will be boosted by an $84,000 “community match” that can include donations of volunteer time as well as money.

The Africatown grant announced this week was one of two in District 3 representing the neighborhoods around the CD and Capitol Hill. A second $68,000 grant was awarded to 206 Zulu for its plan to host a “Meeting of the Minds Community Arts Forum” with local leaders, artists, youth, families, and pioneers in urban arts activism. “The free forum will include guest speakers, panels, presentations, art displays, and performances from both emerging and established artists, dancers, and musicians,” organizers write.

In July, CHS visited the first phase of the installation work by Africatown on the property lined up for a new Lake Union Partners development that will reshape the block. In July, the planned design for the project faced harsh community criticism, prompting officials to consider turning review of the project to a newly convened Central District-focused design review board.

An Africatown Plaza project with affordable housing will neighbor the Lake Union Partners market-rate housing and commercial development.


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26 thoughts on “$82.5K grant will help Africatown continue Midtown Center art and activation project

  1. Did I read this right? $82,500 of our taxpayer dollars for a TEMPORARY art installation; on a piece of land that will be redeveloped soon. Shouldn’t the art be something that can be moved back when the development is finished? Or moved to another location?

    • So $82,000 for a temporary art installation at that ugly corner.

      $82,000 which will have been flushed down the toilet once construction begins.

      And we get zero movement on Cayton Corner Park, which desperately needs funding and will be around forever.

      Isn’t this Africatown nonprofit known for squandering funds as well?

      Sounds like this was a great decision. Can we please just start demolition on the Midtown block already?

      • Africatown has created a good gig for itself, basically reaping the benefits of gentrification guilt. (To be fair, they aren’t the only ‘agency’ in the city that exists mostly to collect grant money).

      • “Africatown has created a good gig for itself, basically reaping the benefits of gentrification guilt.” If you look a little closer you will see they are exploiting the concept of gentrification to reap those benefits. Their mission statement makes it clear they welcome people of African descent with open arms regardless of whether they moved here an hour ago from Chicago or Somalia. Residents whose families have lived in the CD for several generations are treated like outsiders if they are not black. That neighborhood has a long and varied history but only the parts that are relevant to black people are being explored, and Africatown has often embellished. It’s racial nationalism done under the guise of gentrification and financed by taxpayers.

  2. I read in CHS that Africatown just got a $1 million dollar grant from the city about 6 weeks ago or so. So I assume this is in addition? I would love some clear facts on how much public funds they get and on a larger scale who is getting all this grant money in this city. It seems to be distributed unequally and to groups whose histories are disturbing.

  3. Africatown seems like a racial nationalist organization who had made it clear they only care about outsiders when it comes to being bankrolled. Apparently part of the inclusion and diversity pledge by the City of Seattle includes funding groups with history of anti-Asian, anti-Jewish and anti-white racism and make it clear they care nothing about diversity or inclusion. It is outrageous that Proud Boys, the alt-right and such are scrutinized very closely whereas this organization is not. All of them involve attitudes and incidents that are disturbing, the only difference is Africatown is taxpayer funded and officials fawn all over them.

      • MarciaX, you can’t possibly be serious, because what you’re saying is it’s okay to be anti-semitic so long as you’re black…

    • The challenge is that in this current climate, especially in ultra-progressive Seattle, you cannot even ask these kinds of questions in a public setting without being shamed or called a racist.

      Unfortunately it is what it is…

      • Come On Right – I’ve been to all the meetings about this project and feel really bad for the developer, they have to politely stand there while having misguided accusations of racism – and even genocide (I wish I was kidding) – shouted at them and can’t do anything because it would just bring yet more accusations. It’s an effective silencing strategy, for sure.

        And meanwhile, the protests continue to delay bringing much needed affordable housing to the market with their completely unrealistic demands.

        And for those of us living in the middle of it all, the gunfights, drug deals, and muggings continue.

  4. $84,000 for temporary art… I didn’t know that a gallon of paint has gotten so expensive.

    Hey, let’s take the city’s point of view on this “Meh, doesn’t really matter, it other people’s money anyway.”

    Think of the how many houses on your block will have the entire city’s portion of the property tax go to this literally throw-away project.

    • “Think of the how many houses on your block will have the entire city’s portion of the property tax go to this literally throw-away project.”

      Think of how many “community leaders” and activists on your block will now not have to get jobs since the city is giving them $84,000. If I get a bunch of friends together to paint in public will the city pay us? I get the feeling if you fast forwarded 10 years these same people will be still getting huge grants from the city for doing things for “their” community.

      • Since I’m sure you all live in District 3, why didn’t you vote for a different project? This money was doled out by votes; we had 8 or 10 choices and all our votes were counted…Tara, I am pretty sure Wyking did not care that my vote was white.

        As for “temporary” art installation, you might want to reread that paragraph. Much of the money is going towards “continuing its work creating an artful installation celebrating the block’s history and marking the coming redevelopment at 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center.” It doesn’t say it’s temporary though some of it might be.

        It’s also going to “a temporary neighborhood hub that celebrates the African American/African Diaspora legacy and culture in the Central District through art, pop-up events, and other programming.”

        The $1 million grant from 6 weeks ago is for different elements altogether; it will include “capacity-building” and “development expenses to include affordable commercial space to the Midtown affordable housing project. What that looks like to some extent: “120-135 affordable apartment homes, affordable to individuals with income as low as $26,880 – or 40% AMI” and about 3,000 square feet of retail. The developers say roughly 50% of the housing on the full-block will be affordable to people earning between 40-85% of area median income.

        Every time I come on here, it seems like there are a lot of negative comments from people who don’t even live in the neighborhood. I *like* having it be a hub.

        And maybe one of you who are so down on how criminal activity is happening within Africatown could post some evidence or a link…uh huh. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  5. I have to wonder how much of the $84,000 will go to the actual “art installation” and how much will go into the pockets of Africatown “activists.”

    • “I have to wonder how much of the $84,000 will go to the actual “art installation” and how much will go into the pockets of Africatown “activists.”

      Great to see someone has caught on. If only enough of us wrote to the mayor and made it clear we see this extortion for what it is. And that many of the Africatown activists are as racist as white nationalists and we resent funding it, especially in a city that is so quick to condemn racism from the Republicans.

      • Maybe you could put some meat behind that, an experience if you can’t find an actual link? I see nothing about mismanagement, fraud, or any other even sort-of crimes which makes my racism bell go off.

        When you repeatedly accuse someone of something vaguely nefarious, could you at least post your receipts?

  6. Sadly not surprised to see the dog-whistle racism and tiny hearts and tiny minds pop up here just because a handful of people are trying to make their neighborhood a little brighter. And, if you think multiple people would be able to live reasonably off 84K, I assume you must live far from Seattle, somewhere the cost of living is far lower.

      • Did you read the article at all? And it’s not “rundown”. Have you seen the rest of the Central District? Do you even live here?

        From my comment above:
        “As for “temporary” art installation, you might want to reread that paragraph. Much of the money is going towards “continuing its work creating an artful installation celebrating the block’s history and marking the coming redevelopment at 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center.” It doesn’t say it’s temporary though some of it might be.

        It’s also going to “a temporary neighborhood hub that celebrates the African American/African Diaspora legacy and culture in the Central District through art, pop-up events, and other programming.””

  7. Seems like a lot of money to spend on something that’s going to be bulldozed in less than six months. Wouldn’t it be better spent on a permanent installation after construction?

    • We don’t know that it will be only 6 months til they get to that section and District 3 spoke – that’s what we chose. Again, it’s not wholly temporary:
      “As for “temporary” art installation, you might want to reread that paragraph. Much of the money is going towards “continuing its work creating an artful installation celebrating the block’s history and marking the coming redevelopment at 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center.” It doesn’t say it’s temporary though some of it might be.

      It’s also going to “a temporary neighborhood hub that celebrates the African American/African Diaspora legacy and culture in the Central District through art, pop-up events, and other programming.””

  8. Might I suggest that instead of venting grievances here, they be directed to the mayor’s office who seems hell bent on funding a group with so little transparency. As far as I can tell A-town is 2 groups Africatown and Africatown Land Trust – which group is getting this grant? What have they done w the previous funds?

    • The mayor isn’t funding the group – WE ARE! That is, if you live here and aren’t just bored and posting on this page…we chose this as one of our projects. We decided to give the money.

      And if you decide to complain to the mayor, I’d seriously get your ducks in a row about how this groups mysteriously mismanaged money they didn’t have but yet, you all see to know about it…

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