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.”