Arts and Culture Issues Take The Stage for Seattle City Council Candidates

Written by: Nick Licata

All seven Seattle City Council District election candidates have been invited to a
Cultural Sector Candidate

Monday, October 7, 6-8:30 p.m. at Seattle’s Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave

It is Free and Open to the public, doors open at 6 PM, the program begins at 6:30 PM with
closed-captioning provided.

Candidates Confirmed to Attend:
District 1: Lisa Herbold, Phillip Tavel
District 2: Tammy Morales, (Mark Solomon not   attending)
District 3: Kshama Sawant, Egan Orion
District 4: Alex Pedersen, Shaun Scott
District 5: No confirmation received from either candidate as of Oct 1
District 6: Dan Strauss, Heidi Wills
District 7: Andrew Lewis, Jim Pugel

Seattle’s council candidates have been struggling with a number of critical issues like homelessness, transportation congestion, and affordable housing zoning, to name just a few. But, far too often there is one issue that is only hastily touched on. That is the role that culture and arts play in our daily life in providing us the comfort, creativity, and enjoyment we need to sustain our resolve to tackle these other issues.

Everyone who values or engages with arts, science and heritage organizations in Seattle are encouraged to attend, to meet the candidates and hear their platforms. Arts organizations from every district will be attending. The following lead arts organizations from each district solicited attendance at the forum. They will introduce the candidates from the seven races. There will be time for short candidate statements and a brief, moderated Q&A with each candidate.

Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate, seventeen-year-old Wei-Wei Lee who attends Nathan Hale High School, will close the Culture Forum with a poem. She was selected by poets from Seattle Arts & Lectures. BTW, Wei-Wei works with the City’s Civic Poet Anastacia Renee and will be reading at the upcoming Capitol Hill Lit Crawl which takes place Thursday, October 24, 2019, from 6 pm–9 pm, involving over 80 Pacific Northwest readers and artists.

District Arts Organization Captains/partners:

District 1: Zo Dunbar, Totem Star (Youth Performing Arts)

District 2: Donte Felder, ORCA K-8 (Theater Education). Beth Takekawa of Wing Luke may be a be co-captain, not confirmed.

District 3: Sharon Williams, CD Forum for Arts and Ideas (Arts & Humanities)

District 4: Julianna Ross, Sandpoint Arts and Cultural Exchange (Multi-disciplinary)

District 5: Kathleen White, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, (Youth Arts      Education/Music)

District 6: Alejandro Grahal, Woodland Park Zoo; Selby, Moisture Festival;

District 7: Ariel Bradler, TPS (Theatre Advocacy), and Bob Davidson, Seattle Aquarium, and Ellen Walker, Pacific NW Ballet (Dance)

The Cultural Sector Candidate Forum is hosted by Inspire Washington, a newly launched cultural sector non-profit that serves as a statewide force for advocacy and awareness of the cultural sector. The co-hosts of the Forum are KNKX and Town Hall with Woodland Park Seattle, Seattle Aquarium and Pacific Science Center as co-sponsors.

KNKX News Director, Florangela Davila will moderate the forum. Inspire Washington’s Executive Director, Manny Cawaling, will kick-off the event with a brief overview of the important issues facing cultural sector organizations in Seattle. Cawaling says, “The arts and cultural sector in this community and our state critically support our economy. Every person who attends a cultural event in Washington spends an average of $32 around the event, and the cultural sector employs almost 180,000 people. We account for 7.8% of the state’s GDP and move and inspire thousands of people.”

One final note. It is important to keep in mind that the Seattle City Council has often taken the lead in promoting cultural and artistic activities in Seattle. For instance, currently, Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s council committee has oversight on the arts.

An important development underway came out of a briefing in her committee on the Office of Arts and Culture’s efforts to create a Public Development Authority (PDA) to preserve cultural space in Seattle. Check out the briefing on the Seattle Channel. The agenda with materials is linked here. A Council vote will be needed next year to create a PDA, consequently, it’s important to have sympathetic councilmembers on the council. The cultural forum could provide an indication of which ones could be.