The implosion of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce won’t mean the end of one of its most visible neighborhood promotions. Organizers of the monthly Capitol Hill Art Walk say they are ready to walk on with the event that melds local businesses and the neighborhood’s art scene with help from the Capitol Hill Block Party.
“It’s always a good time. Attendees will see people they know or meet new people. There’s no Seattle freeze on the art walk, as people are friendly and social at these things,” said Jeanine Anderson, who co-produces the art walk with Ghost Gallery owner Laurie Kearney.
Now the event’s official fiscal sponsor, the Block Party first became involved with the art walk in 2015, providing monthly support for the event. The combination of financial donations and management made the art walk’s quick transition between fiscal sponsors possible, preserving its ability to promote showcased art. Meanwhile, Block Party’s donations help pay organizers for their time, compensate artists who designed the walk’s posters, and provide funding for advertising and paper maps highlighting businesses showcasing art.
The transition to the art walk living under the Capitol Hill Block Party’s wing has also made it easier for more venues to get involved. The chamber previously required businesses to be members to participate in the art walk, which meant businesses displaying art had to pay a fee. Block Party’s monthly donations allowed CHCC to transition into the role of fiscal sponsorship, resulting in more interest from businesses regarding the walk since participation became free of charge.
“This enabled the art walk to grow and be more independent from the chamber, and everything was free for anybody to participate in. That was a big and excellent change for us,” Anderson said.
In May, CHS reported on the abrupt shut down of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and its work to advocate for and promote neighborhood businesses as the membership and grant driven nonprofit said it had run out of money.
Set to begin July 19th, the 2019 edition of the Capitol Hill Block Party, meanwhile, brings renewed scrutiny on the annual three-day music festival’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood — both positive and negative. For the Art Walk, CHBP is an integral component of the important neighborhood arts showcase.
The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the organization positioned to absorb some of the chamber’s role in the business community on Capitol Hill, reached out to Anderson and Kearney about playing a potential role in putting on the art walk. Anderson and Kearney say they declined management help from GSBA, as Capitol Hill Block Party had transitioned into the role smoothly.
“GSBA had expressed some interest early, because they did not want to leave us adrift, but we had already lined things up,” Anderson said. “Although we will not be working with the GSBA, we totally support their mission emotionally.”
There are challenges ahead, however.
While the Capitol Hill Art Walk successfully navigated changes in its financial management, the organization recently lost touch with its major sponsor, Starbucks. Individuals on the Starbucks end of the sponsorship no longer work for the coffee giant, leaving the art walk without a third of its funding. Now, Capitol Hill Art Walk is fundraising for amenities such as paper maps of venues and increased advertising to make the event more accessible to the public.
The Capitol Hill Art Walk happens every second Thursday. You can learn more at capitolhillartwalk.com.
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