Community Building in Response to “Artwashing”
Save the Date: Join us on Aug. 28, 5-7 p.m., at the Northwest African American Museum for the final Mixer in this series, “Advancing Equity in the Arts – Real Talk!” We’ll have complimentary food and soft drinks, and we’ll have a cash bar for guests 21+. The Mixer is a free event, and all ages are welcome. RSVP here.
The Mixer at Youngstown on July 31 – the third in a four-part series of community discussions – focused on ways to tackle space affordability challenges facing the creative community. The opening panel was moderated by Tim Lennon, Executive Director of LANGSTON, in conversation with Julie Chang Schulman (a.k.a. Julie-C), a hip hop artist, educator, and organizer with the Artist Coalition for Equitable Development (ACED); Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience; and David Bestock, Executive Director of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA). Read more about the speakers here.
To frame the conversation, Lennon delivered an overview of City-led efforts to respond to affordability challenges and displacement pressures. These included the expansion of the City’s Cultural Facilities Fund, a facilities and capital improvements grant program for cultural spaces in Seattle; the Build Art Space Equitably (BASE) Cohort, a learning cohort consisting entirely of people of color, designed to increase knowledge on both sides of the culture/commercial real estate false binary; digital resources including SpaceLab NW, Seattle Music Resource Directory, and SpaceFinder Seattle; and the groundwork for a Public Development Authority (PDA) that would be City powered, and community driven, to act as an intermediary between community, culture, and real estate. Lennon reviewed some examples of co-ownership and community investment models, including Black & Tan Hall and Equinox Studios in Seattle, Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) in San Francisco, and Mercy Corps’ Plaza 122 in Portland. Yet despite the above interventions, the challenge of space affordability persists.
On the Connection to Place: from “ArtWashing” to “Placekeeping”
The three panelists have been driven to action to find space for creatives and culture, especially as a means to mitigate historic discrimination against communities of color. The panelists agreed that cultural spaces are where identity, community and history flourish.
Key themes the panelists discussed as actions the city needs to tackle are:
- Transparency and Accountability
- Economic Redistribution
- Recognize Community Power and Cultural Assets
Break Out Sessions: What the City can do to remove barriers to space affordability
The nearly 60 individuals that participated in the conversations had diverse backgrounds and disciplines such as cultural programs, video production, literature, publishing, music education, songwriting, dance, photography, filmmaking, public affairs, government, marketing, and higher education.
Below are the themes that emerged in the breakout discussions:
- Create a resource hub that centralizes information
- Address the unique space and equipment needs of various creative communities/industries and geographies, and have artists/creatives co-leading the development, operations, and ownership of these spaces.
- Introduce innovative financial incentives or programs to redirect resources to address affordability for artists and creatives.
- Make it easier to use existing spaces creatively, both permanently and temporarily.
- Make technology more accessible.
- Rehabilitate the city’s image as a place for creatives.