Throwback Thursday: March 31, 2008

Seattle Reads, the arts, and gentrification was the topic in our Throwback Thursday post on March 31, 2008.

Image result for the beautiful things that heaven bears

If you have picked up this year’s Seattle Reads novel, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu you’ve had a chance to get one novelist’s take on some of the issues and pressures that can fracture a community changing in the face of gentrification and immigration.

Facing similar issues, particularly those of gentrification pressures, local Capitol Hill artists, arts activists, neighbors and interested citizens are gathering at Seattle City Hall in April to discuss community concerns about rapidly diminishing affordable space for arts uses in the City’s core neighborhoods. Get details at:

Make Room for Art: Cultural Overlay Districts for Seattle
April 2, 5pm-6:30pm, Seattle City Hall

City Councilmembers will hear from Seattle residents, arts and entertainment venues and organizations, property owners, developers, and officials on how the Council might go about establishing an overlay district to offer incentives and controls in a specific area to encourage or preserve particular kinds of activities, spaces, and/or design. How can the city grow in a healthy balanced way that benefits all? This could be an exciting opportunity to add your voice as “A City Makes Herself.”

Originally published on March 31, 2008 by our coworker Kay K.

While still an ongoing conversion within our city this post made me think about the resources made possible because of citizens and artists voicing their concerns. Sometimes we forget how powerful that voice can be. Below are just some of the few changes that have come for artists and social justice.

SpaceLab NW  is a partnership with 4Culture and Community Attributes Inc. and “is our attempt to catalog and count every square foot of cultural space in Seattle.”

Spacefinder founded in 2015 and expanded in 2018 “is a database of every rental space in the region (that we know of) that’s available to artists, community groups, and cultural organizations. It’s a way to discover spaces that might not already be on your radar, and it’s a way to help grease the wheels of our regional marketplace.”


Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute is a building that has been a part of our city in one way or another since 1915! “It underwent extensive renovations in 2011 to preserve its architectural character and update the facilities.” It offers a facility grant, is home to Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas and The Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District, and it also continues to be a center for Black culture within our city through the non-profit arts organization LANGSTON.

The Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), which originally started in city departments ten years ago, was expanded in 2014 to go beyond that. It’s one of the tools we use at the library when planning events, readings, and programming with artists, authors, and patrons.

Cultural Districts were originally created in 2009 and turned into a city council resolution in 2014. It “is dedicated to nurturing and protecting the presence of arts and culture in neighborhoods. These elements have been shown to increase walkability, vitality, regional focus and interest. The city’s mission in creating these districts is to ensure that the organizations and individuals that give these unique neighborhoods their verve remain healthy and vibrant for future generations.” Current districts are Capitol Hill (2014), Central Area (2015), Uptown (2017), and Columbia and Hillman City in (2018).

Find all this and more on the Office of Arts & Culture website and reach out to your librarians through email on Ask Us for help navigating all that the city has to offer!

~posted by Library Staff

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