Marketplace in Wing Luke Museum

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, is developing a year-round cultural model for sustainable neighborhood revitalization, using arts and culture as a way to attract people (including “hometown strangers”) to the neighborhood. In one of Seattle’s poorest areas, it will act as an economic driver for district businesses and build positive associations with the neighborhood through a combination of tested and experimental programming.

Elizabeth Bly, Grants Manager at the Wing Luke Museum, explains:

Here at The Wing we’re constantly experimenting with different ways to share our cultures, and our Marketplace retail store gives a different lens. With November and December fast approaching, we wonder: How do we get holiday shoppers to patronize our ethnic neighborhood?

Scavenger hunts haven’t worked (participants are more interested in getting in and out of businesses than buying anything), but other activities have: hosting Asian American Santa, showcasing local artists (Pulitzer Prize nominated photographer Barry Wong  and paper cutting artist Aki Sogabe  are always favorites), organizing wacky events for kids (wind-up toy races with great prizes), having free food (you can’t beat cookies and hot cider in Seattle weather!) and of course, promoting big sales and discounts.

We’ll continue to offer these activities, and we can expect a few shoppers and many loyal patrons to come by. But what if we build an event around Hello Kitty, the world’s most famous white cat? Will a whole new group of visitors, initially attracted by Hello Kitty’s visit to The Wing in November, accidentally find themselves engaged and interested in a cultural setting? Will they visit and patronize a neighborhood that’s not normally on their radar?

We’ll see if the white cat from Japan will bring us success.

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