City of Seattle, WA

05/04/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/04/2021 15:48

We need to invest in individual artists, cultural communities, and cultural space

Cultural Space: In my letter to you, addressed on July 29, 2020, I requested support from both you and the Seattle City Council regarding the protection of our cultural spaces. Because of the COVID-19 and social issues that have permeated our city, many cultural spaces have suffered significantly, losing revenue and resources. These organizations need time to recover and rebuild as the city begins to open up. While Governor Jay Inslee's eviction moratorium will continue through June 30th, I am fearful that once it is lifted, we will see an enormous uptick in evictions in arts and cultural spaces. These evictions will exacerbate the mass migration of Seattle's cultural anchors, and with them, our identity as a creative capital, outside of the city limits. Because of this, I am requesting that you forgive all rents for 2021-2022 for arts and cultural organizations and artists who call the City a landlord.

I appreciate your support of the Cultural Space Agency and am so pleased that this new entity exists to develop and steward permanently affordable space for arts and culture. Having your support to anchor Seattle's vibrant cultural communities in place by providing additional capital to advance the development projects chosen by the community constituency of the Cultural Space Agency will provide further resources to secure the arts and cultural life that makes our City so special, support social cohesion, and further business activity, all rooted in our City's BIPOC communities and neighborhoods. This is truly a BIPOC-centered wealth-building strategy that simply needs to be resourced to fulfill its potential.

Regarding the 2022 budget, I'm requesting that financial cuts, resulting from diminished Admissions Tax collection, be paused and that the Office of Arts & Culture's budget is supplemented to match their 2019 adopted budget total, before pandemic impacts. In this time of dire need for this sector, we cannot undertake austerity. Finally, I request that the city invests in digital equity for all, which will have a significant impact for artists and arts organizations and their audiences in our city. It is essential that our community has access to Wi-Fi. We humbly request that the city invest immediately in keeping our community digitally connected to the world and to each other, which so heavily relies on technology, and is absolutely essential in this moment of virtual presentations. I recognize that we are living and experiencing unprecedented times. While I applaud the availability of resources that you have provided for our work, I remain cognizant of the growing pressures people feel daily that result in racial injustice and the decrease in affordability and sustainability in our arts and cultural communities. I am writing as a very concerned Seattle native who wants what is best for our city. I believe you, as a Seattle native, do too. Therefore, I feel this is a time to engage in uncomfortable conversations and make unprecedented requests. I believe that these activities will empower us to work towards solutions that will create a more racially inclusive and equitable distribution of available support. I acknowledge and appreciate your support in the work that you have done towards the preservation of cultural space and support for BIPOC communities. Our goal at the Arts Commission is to work with you in implementing these strategies and support the work you are already doing at the policy level.

Recently, I met with Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington and we were able to speak about some of the same issues that I've raised in my letter to you. It was lovely to meet her and it seems that she shares a lot of the same concerns. I informed her that I would request a meeting with you so we could discuss some of these requests. I have since followed up and am awaiting confirmation on our meeting.

As co-chair of the Seattle Arts Commission, I speak on behalf of all of my colleagues when I express my appreciation for your support in preserving the incredible arts and cultural city that we are known to be. I appreciate the action you have taken towards helping to sustain our arts community and the confidence you have in our Arts Commission in serving as allies in accomplishing the goals and initiatives you have already put in place.

As you complete your term as Mayor, I believe that your legacy will be secured through your support of empowering and re-inspiring the arts and cultural community in our city. Please allow the Seattle Arts Commission to play a role in helping you. We stand with you in solidarity towards supporting the great work of Seattle arts and culture and appreciate your continued ongoing support, in advance.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Dr. Quinton Morris, co-chair
Seattle Arts Commission
Endorsed by the Seattle Arts Commission Sarah Wilke, Co-Chair, Meany Center for the Performing Arts; Cassie Chinn, Wing Luke Museum; Dawn Chirwa, Philanthropy Northwest; Kayla DeMonte, Citizen University; Steve Galatro, Pratt Fine Arts Center; Vivian Hua, Northwest Film Forum; Holly Jacobson, Path with Art; Yeggy Michael, Artist, Yeggy Studio; James Miles, Mentor Washington; Chieko Phillips, 4Culture; Vanessa Villalobos, Artist, Balorico Dance; Racquel West, Bill Holm Center; Mikhael Mei Williams, Seattle Art Museum