Mayor announces plan for Central District arts district

The mayor’s office announced this week that the draft ordinance to create the new Central District arts is moving forward.

“The Central Area is has made enormous contributions to Seattle’s cultural identity, from the music of Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones to the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement announcing the legislation. “The neighborhood’s arts heritage is felt far beyond our city boundaries. This designation honors our history and nurtures the Central Area arts community for the next generation.”

CHS reported on the new initiative earlier this month as groups including Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, the Northwest African American Museum,Africatown, and the Seattle Black Arts Alliance held a community meeting to help give shape to the new district.

“We don’t want to just become a museum. We don’t want to be erased. We do want to preserve that legacy and stimulate more interest in how the CD can become more of a hub for black art and culture,” Vivian Phillips, director of marketing and communications for the Seattle Theater Group told CHS.

The Central District has been a hub for black art, business, and community. Following months of discussion and organizing among Central District African American arts advocates, the designation legislation is planned to begin its path through City Hall in December.

In November of 2014, Capitol Hill became the city’s first arts district, lead by Capitol Hill Housing and the Capitol Hill Chamber. The designation comes with a $50,000 dollar grant, in addition to a “Creative Placemaking Toolkit,” which includes of a number of mechanisms and programs that can be implemented.

“The Central Area is a center of African-American heritage and history, as well as a neighborhood undergoing rapid change,” the city’s announcement of the new initiative reads. “The Arts District designation recognizes the culturally rich neighborhood and seeks to preserve its character, while stimulating a growing arts environment in the Central Area.”


A hub for black art, business, and community, CD planned as Seattle arts district

Following Capitol Hill’s designation in 2014, the Central District is being planned as Seattle’s second official Cultural Arts District.

The push for a Central Area arts district stems from organizing efforts between a collection of cultural institutions, community members, and black artists, all hoping to both preserve and nurture the artistic and cultural legacy of Seattle’s historically African American neighborhood as the neighborhood changes and gentrifies amidst the citywide development boom and influx of new residents. The designation backers will be holding an open house this weekend to engage with the public on the designation.

“Particularly in light of all the change that is happening in the central area, this is a moment for us to pool our efforts and make this happen,” said Vivian Phillips, a lifetime Central District resident, director of marketing and communications for the Seattle Theater Group and current co-chair of the coalition pushing for the designation.

The public meeting is hoped to help define “the scope of our work both short term and long term,” Phillips said.

Following months of discussion and organizing among Central District African American arts advocates, the designation legislation is planned to begin its path through City Hall in December. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Artist Trust preparing for 30-year celebration

A recent study by the Washington State Arts Commission found that Washington as a whole has a creative vitality (measured in terms of creative economy) 2% greater than the national average. King County’s creative vitality index is more than 200% greater than the national average. Capitol Hill might register an even greater figure, which is exactly why Artist Trust continues to call the neighborhood home after 30 years supporting the arts across the state.

One of the first nonprofits in the country to offer direct support to individual artists, Artist Trust has been a vanguard arts institution since its inception. Organizations like it are rare but, executive director Shannon Halberstadt insists, absolutely vital. The equation is simple: if art is valuable, then directly supporting the individuals who produce it is the most effective means of sustaining it.

“Individual artists are so freaking important,” Halberstadt said. “They’re bringing something that’s important to our culture: they’re our storytellers, they’re the people reflecting back to us the beauty that exists in humanity.”

2016 Benefit Art Auction — Call for Art
November 9th is the deadline to submit work for inclusion in Artist Trust’s 30th anniversary celebration slated for February 2016.

Only five more days to submit work for inclusion at Artist Trust‘s 30th anniversary celebration! Proceeds from the auction are directly invested in artists through unrestricted grantscareer trainingopportunities and resources. Donating to the auction is a wonderful way to sustain Artist Trust‘s mission of service to artists of all disciplines in our community.

Seated in her 12th Ave office filled with art and paperwork, Halberstadt said that Artist Trust has arrived at a set of twin milestones, signaling a moment of renewal but also continued growth for the organization that has since 1986 provided support, grants, and professional development to the individual artists of Washington from right here on Capitol Hill. Continue reading

'80 Pacific Northwest readers and artists' to hit First Hill and Capitol Hill for Lit Crawl Seattle 2015

San Fransisco can keep its quakes, as far as CHS is concerned. But we’re happy to have Litquake make its annual visit with this week’s fourth annual Lit Crawl Seattle:

Think of Lit Crawl Seattle as a free cool reading at your favorite bar, times about 30. The extra-large burrito of readings. For one beautiful and awesomely weird night, over 80 Pacific Northwest readers and artists will fill Capitol and First Hill bars with stories about oyster foraging and the Jesus movement, photography of Seattle outcasts and innocents, and odes to football and salt.

Last year we hosted everyone from former National Book Award finalist Jess Walter to Lindy West. For this year’s Lit Crawl on October 22, 2015, we will be hosting readings by VIDA, Tin House, critically-acclaimed memoirists Sarah Hepola and Melissa Febos, and much more at over 30 venues—including Town Hall, Hugo House, Vermillion, Capitol Cider, the Frye Art Museum, Capitol Hill Library, and Elliott Bay Book Company.

The San Francisco’s literary festival organization brought the first Lit Crawl to First Hill and Capitol Hill in 2012. 2014’s edition ballooned to “as many authors as we can logically put on the physical map.” As you can see below, the itinerary is designed for a bit of chaos and impossible scheduling. You can grab the 2015 Lit Crawl Seattle map and guide (PDF) here.

cropped-LC15-banner-seattle (1)Lit Crawl Seattle 2015
Thursday, October 22nd

“How I Write”
Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave.
On display: Artist Tessa Hulls’ ink drawings of tchotchkes, talismans, and other unique quirks that help this year’s Lit Crawl readers craft their prose, poems, and art. Continue reading

Want $1,200 to create an installation in Cal Anderson? Seattle tests new grant program

IMG_7164Last weekend’s Sparkle in the Park wasn’t paid for with funding from the new Put the Arts in Parks pilot program — but it could have been:

This pilot program supports neighborhood arts councils and community-based groups that are seeking to activate Seattle Parks with new and established festivals or events that promote arts and cultural participation, celebrate our diversity and build community connections through arts and culture while connecting with underserved communities. The funds for this program are contingent on the passing of the Parks District budget.

The new grant program has been designed to help fund events and art installations that take place in a Seattle park in 2016 and, if it’s a success, beyond. The proposals can be art events, or community events with an arts element like music or performances.

The city plans to select 40 projects for the 2016 pilot. The program’s budget is around $340,000. The new program is part of the $47 million Seattle Park District funding plan for the coming year.

Another new grant program called the Major Projects Challenge Fund is also being created to allow community groups to create projects for parks that will draw from a $1.6 million pool. “Merely being expensive doesn’t necessarily make it a major project,” the city notes. “It should significantly expand the life and usability of the subject facility such that it provides more opportunities for people to make use of the facility.”

Put the Arts in Parks projects must be free to attend, “have a significant arts and culture component,” and “provide a platform for under-represented artists and communities” — sorry Shitbarf, you’re over-represented. Same goes for your, Chihuly.

Priority will be given to projects taking place in “preferred parks” — here’s the list for our area:

CENTRAL • Cal Anderson Park • Denny Park • Dr. Blanche Lavizzo Park • First Hill Park • Judkins Park • Flo Ware Park • Pratt Park • Powell Barnett Park

Grants are available at levels from $1,200 to $7,200. Individual artists or community groups may apply but only groups with “demonstrated ability to produce the event” are eligible to receive $2,400 or more.

The deadline to apply for the new citywide program from The Office of Arts and Culture and Seattle Parks is October 30th. You can learn more and apply on

‘Existential transgender wild western’ Sidewinders one of many ‘lasts’ before Hugo House redevelopment

There will be many last bows for Hugo House as we know it before a planned, literary nonprofit-friendly redevelopment of the property.

Sidewinders, the production from Fantastic.Z Theatre Company now playing Hugo, is lined up to be the last of its kind in the old space — and possibly the new:

In the Northwest premiere of this existential transgender wild western by award winning playwright Basil Kreimendahl, Dakota and Bailey find themselves stranded in a strange barren land.

Part of a planned six-story development, The new Hugo House facility will be “approximately 10,000 square feet” and will share the ground floor with a 1,500 square-foot “commercial space” being planned for a cafe at the corner of 11th and E Olive.

While the design of the new facility is still being worked out, the players involved in Sidewinders say a theater stage likely won’t be part of the new Hugo as the center focuses its mission and other performance spaces at 12th Ave Arts establish themselves in the area.

Literary events are scheduled through the fall at Hugo House and there has been no announcement yet for a planned community gathering to say goodbye to the old building and celebrate the new.

In the meantime, you can begin the drama of nostalgia now through August. Information on Sidewinders showtimes and more here on the CHS Calendar.

In the wake of the Woo! Girl, #LOVETHEHILL, #IAMCAPITOLHILL campaign for Capitol Hill

In some ways, they are the obvious reactions to an artistic slap in the face that was so sadly well placed, you could only shake your head in agreement. The Legendary and Woo! Girl posters were so cynical and sly that they can’t possibly be matched. But two social media-fueled campaigns are doing their part to also define the neighborhood and spread love for Capitol Hill with a multimedia mix that spills onto the streets of the like-it/unlike-it neighborhood.

CHS told you about the planning behind the #LOVETHEHILL campaign this winter as graphic designer and Hillebrity Gregory Smith and fellow Seattle Central Creative Arts Academy student Jess Ornelas teamed up for a project to liven up the old Atlas Clothing building on Broadway and create a documentary about the people who live and work on the Hill and their complicated relationship with the neighborhood’s changes:

Watch for a cameo by CHS publisher Justin Carder. Very exciting.

With backing from the likes of Caffé Vita, Ben Haggerty and Tricia Davis, and Linda Derschang, the campaign also includes a #LOVETHEHILL soundtrack:

You can learn more at

Meanwhile, the #IAMCAPITOLHILL campaign has created a series of interviews with leaders and creators in the LGBTQ community. Here is the episode featuring performer Aleksa Manila:

“Capitol Hill is still queer. These are our stories,” the Seattle Pridefest-backed campaign’s tagline goes.

You can learn more at

CHS Pics | 12th Ave hosts the Epic Durational Performance Festival

Adam Sekuler's work got the 2015 festival started (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Adam Sekuler’s work got the 2015 festival started (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_2283IMG_2292The Yellow Fish Epic Durational Performance Festival is currently taking place at Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery. Organized since 2013 by Seattle-based artist Alice Gosti, it is one of the only festivals dedicated to durational performance in the world.

Durational performance can be defined as “a [art] form through which TIME is manifested in its original (natural) purity and brought to the forefront as pivotal to the experience.” Basically, it is an artistic performance that takes much longer than the standard two hours.

Yellow Fish performances can be a little out of the ordinary. Last year, one performance consisted of two women “submerged in an inflatable kiddie pool” for more than five hours, with a wolf hide suspended above them dripping pig blood into the water. This year’s festival kicked off last week with a performance spanning three days. Artist Adam Sekuler, a Seattleite living in Colorado, spent this time leading a communal mourning for the “buildings, organizations, and stores that we have lost in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, according to Gosti.

In spite of its unusual genre, or because of it, the Yellow Fish festival has been pretty successful. Last year the festival attracted artists from across the United States and as far away as London. This year, due to budget constraints, the festival has featured mostly local artists, but Gosti says attendance has been “really good.” The festival has also raised more than six thousand dollars through the crowdfunding campaign CHS reported on last week.

Yellow Fish is scheduled to take place daily through August 6th. The majority of the performances will take place at the Hedreen Gallery and a few will be held at the local venues such as the Velocity Dance Center and 10 degrees.

The planned 2015 lineup is below:

it is just the beginning and it may last forever
July 8th to August 5th, 2015 at The Hedreen Gallery
Runn Shayo (New York)
Pol Rosenthal
Pol Budraitis
LIMITS (Corrie Befort and Jason E Anderson)
Megumi Shauna Arai
Juan Franco
Brace Evans
MKNZ Porritt
Laura Curry and Lori Dillon
Jody Kuehner
Ryan Vinson
Adam Sekuler
Keith White
Mother Tongue (kt Shores and Angelina Baldoz_
A K Mimi Allin
and special guests…

Official schedule and specific locations will be posted soon on Yellow Fish // Epic Durational Performance Festival.

ARTvocacy Refugee Art Exhibit

On Friday, June 19th, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Seattle will host the 10th Annual ARTvocacy Event, in recognition of World Refugee Day.
ARTvocacy will provide the public with an opportunity to learn more about refugee issues and experiences, while also celebrating the artistic talents and accomplishments of local refugee communities. This year’s artists come from diverse countries around the globe, including Bhutan, Bosnia, Burma, Iraq, and Vietnam.
For the fourth year in a row, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will join the celebration and naturalize 10 new citizens who arrived in the United States as refugees. IRC Voice and “The Walking Dead” actress Sarah Wayne Callies will attend as our special guest.
Light appetizers and beverages will be provided; suggested $15 donation at the door.

Three Capitol Hill-area venues among first to sign Seattle Fair Trade Music pledge


Projections on A Wall plays Chop Suey’s re-opening in March (Image: CHS)

This decal coming to a venue near you soon.

This decal coming to a venue near you soon.

Talk to any working musician, and they’re bound to have at least one story about a nightmare gig caused by an unscrupulously run venue.

Paul Bigman has heard plenty of them as an organizer with the American Federation of Musicians Local 76-493. There was the bouncer who walked away with band’s share of the door and the metal venue that insisted local openers had to let touring acts use their instruments.

To help bring some uniformity and transparency to the way venues treat performers, musicians and organizers have brought the Portland-originated Fair Trade Music campaign to Seattle. Two Capitol Hill venues and one First Hill venue have signed the Fair Trade Music pledge since the effort launched in April: Chop Suey, Capitol Cider, and Vios Vito’s .

“Having everything on the table to see where everything is going is really important,” said Chop Suey owner and musician Brianna Rettig. “It’s good to know that if you’re supporting a music venue, it’s a place that’s being fair to the musicians.”

Bigman said the 21 venues that have signed on represent businesses musicians identified as the most exemplary. Neumos and most other Capitol Hill venues have yet to be approached about the pledge, Bigman said, but organizers are preparing to sign up more venues in the coming months along with a public awareness campaign.

As its name would suggest, the FTM pledge is akin to fair trade labeling in foods. Participating venues will get decals to put in their windows to show they’ve signed the pledge, which includes four major tenants:

  • Provide musicians with a written agreement that lays out the terms of payment
  • Provide musicians with a record of how many tickets were sold and how much money was made
  • Have a decent sound system and capable sound tech
  • If there are disagreements, venue owners agree to work with Fair Trade Music Seattle to resolve disputes

The pledge makes no stipulations about minimum pay as musicians and venues often agree on a wide range of “fair pay” agreements, Bigman said. However, its something that could be added down the road.

“A lot of clubs are owned by musicians, and they don’t want to mistreat musicians, they’re just not business people,” Bigman said. Continue reading