The CAP Report
Cultural spaces add value to neighborhoods. It’s a neighborhood’s theaters, galleries, music halls, artists’ studios, community centers, museums, and cinemas that showcase vitality and reflect character—attracting residents, businesses, and visitors. The value of cultural spaces and activities can also be quantifiable, driving economic growth and urban development. Despite cultural space’s role in strengthening neighborhoods, creating and maintaining these spaces in strong real estate markets can be extremely difficult. The older, smaller, more eccentric spaces that often house cultural uses and small businesses are particularly vulnerable to development-driven displacement. Throughout Seattle’s history, certain populations and neighborhoods prospered at the expense of others. As recent displacement has occurred, some populations and types of organizations have been pushed harder and further than others. The story of Seattle’s growth is the story of the under-investment in, and ultimately the displacement of, the diverse communities that have added cultural richness to the city. Communities of color, LGBTQ communities, people experiencing poverty, immigrant and refugee communities, and the artists and cultural organizations that reflect and represent those communities, have been left unprotected. However, developers are eager to build in attractive, culturally rich neighborhoods.
There is room in these strong markets to find mutual benefits for both developers and the community by creating new space for the cultural uses that bring value to all. Often, we have found, what stands in the way of creating more cultural space is an exhausting series of relatively low hurdles. Minor changes to code, or the removal of antiquated barriers, or the creation of simple new programs and projects, could have enormous benefit and clear the path to cultural space creation, activation, and preservation. No single action that the City can take will make cultural space invulnerable in an overheated real estate market. At the heart of this report is a list, a menu of options, an extended potential action plan. Our intent is to encourage exploration of, and action on, the items on this list over time.
CREATE, ACTIVATE, AND PRESERVE CULTURAL SPACE
Over the past several years a broad-based team of advisors and consultants has come together to build, critique, support, and shape this list. The project has brought together community members, property owners and developers, City staff, elected officials, artists, architectural designers, real estate brokers, legal professionals, and cultural stakeholders