12th Avenue Arts

Community Roots Housing Foundation

Funding Received: 2013
Seattle, WA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 4, 2013


Perhaps the single most exciting aspect of the campaign for 12th Avenue Arts has been the support of neighborhood businesses. In January ArtPlace America was in Seattle to celebrate Pike/Pine as a top ArtPlace neighborhood. This distinction was given both because of the concentration of arts groups and the vibrant community small businesses.
These are restaurants, coffee shops, newspapers, bars and barbershops that have grown up with the neighborhood, and are generously giving back to the community. This support of the arts is particularly moving – when these businesses make a three year pledge, you know they will have to get up every morning to earn that money.

At a recent gathering of small businesses, Tim Keck, founding publisher of the Stranger alternative weekly, spoke about the changes happening in Pike/Pine. “While I welcome all the new bars and restaurants,” said Tim, “it’s important to preserve other uses in the neighborhood.” That’s why he’s supporting the mixed-use 12th Avenue Arts project.

Recent Wins

The Capitol Hill Block Party, a multi-venue street concert event, is supporting 12th Avenue Arts in an inventive way. With every ticket purchased, the buyer is presented with a pull down menu choice to make a donation – all donations will be matched dollar for dollar by the block party. http://capitolhillblockparty.com/

To acknowledge the grant from ArtPlace America, the Mayor of Seattle declared May 20 “Capitol Hill Housing Day” http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2013/05/capitol-hill-housing-day-declared-in-honor-of-grant-award/

A longtime goal of the arts community has been for the City of Seattle to hire a cultural space liaison, focused on placemaking, space activation and helping artists and small arts organizations. The City has recently hired Matthew Richter, a longtime arts entrepreneur in Seattle to do this work. http://artbeat.seattle.gov/2013/05/21/launching-a-cultural-space-program-with-matthew-richter/

Insight / Provocation

There is much documentation about the arts helping to revitalize a neighborhood. From galleries occupying vacant storefronts to artists moving into commercial lofts, the arts can thrive in spaces where few businesses could. This is assisted by the fact that Seattle has supported the nonprofit arts through grants, incentives and tax abatements. Without them, few organizations could survive.

It’s equally well known that for profit businesses, particularly restaurants, can draw resources to underinvested communities. With rising rents, particularly in new construction, and continuing pressure from internet retail, small neighborhood businesses can struggle to survive. It’s common to hear that healthy neighborhoods require a mix of arts, restaurants and strong retail. Is some system of retail subsidy needed to preserve these uses?