Basic Income Programs, Affordable Housing and … “Arts Bucks?” »Mayoral Candidates Share Plans to Revitalize the Arts – Slog

Eight mayoral candidates showed up on Thursday evening to talk about the arts at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Mark Van Streefkerk

Seattle mayoral candidates all agree that the arts and culture play an important role in the city’s post-pandemic recovery, but not all candidates have a clear vision for reviving the arts after more than one year of closures and restrictions.

Last night, eight mayoral candidates had the opportunity to develop their arts revival plans at an in-person forum at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Hosted by a coalition of arts groups, the two-hour forum was closed to the public but streamed live via the Seattle City of Literature Facebook page. You can watch it all here.

Responding to questions from moderators Vivian Phillips, art producer, marketer and civil lawyer, and author and radio journalist Marcie Sillman, each nominee explained how they would support and, most importantly, fund Seattle’s artistic communities in the next stages of the recovery. . Candidates explored issues such as base salaries for artists, the Cultural Space Agency, the city’s admission tax, and how they would tackle other pressing issues.

(Left to right) Colleen Echohawk, James Donaldson, Jessyn Farrell and Don L. Rivers.

(Left to right) Colleen Echohawk, James Donaldson, Jessyn Farrell and Don L. Rivers. Mark Van Streefkerk

The forum was a place where Colleen Echohawk shone. Former executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, she laid out her plan to support working artists and at the same time fight homelessness. Echohawk referred to his work with? Ál? Al, a housing project by and for Indigenous people in Pioneer Square, and Native Works, a program that provides paid artistic opportunities, training and mentorship to underserved Indigenous people.

“I’m not talking about something in theory,” she said. “This is something that I have done and will continue to do as mayor of the city. One of the things i love [Native Works] are we in fact able to pay artists to make their art and bring healing and restoration to our community. We need it more than ever as we come out of COVID. ”

Echohawk has also championed the idea of ​​basic income programs for artists – for which all applicants have expressed some kind of support – by committing to explore the realization of this through partnerships with the Office of the Arts and culture and the Civil Rights Office. She expressed her enthusiasm for the Cultural Space Agency, a public development authority that seeks to acquire, develop and activate spaces for the arts, and she also supported the launch of Hope Corps, a creative workforce program. introduced during the pandemic which was never implemented. .

Architect Andrew Grant Houston was the only candidate to explicitly mention the divestment of Seattle Police Department funds ($ 10 million, to be exact) and their investment in the arts. Houston has said it wants to increase the livability of artists by securing resources for long-term affordable housing, including through strategic acquisitions and rent controls, as well as its $ 100 million investment plan. dollars each year in the Fair Development Initiative.

Houston advocated for mixed-use housing that included artistic elements. He also wants to raise the minimum wage to $ 23 by 2025, create more protections for freelancers and pilot a universal basic income plan. Houston berated what he described as the “Seattle process,” or excruciatingly slow incrementalism in the face of dire crises. “We have 10 years to cut our emissions in half,” he said. “I am focused on building new systems. I run for mayor because the mayor sets the agenda.

Andrew Grant Houston, right, was the only candidate to specifically call for divestment from the SPD and investment in artistic programming.  Bruce Harrell, left, admitted he might not be the nominee with the best artistic connections, but he and his team would work the hardest.

Andrew Grant Houston, left, was the only candidate to specifically call for divestment from the SPD and investment in artistic programming. Bruce Harrell, right, admitted he might not be the nominee with the best artistic connections, but he and his team would “work the hardest.” Mark Van Streefkerk

Former state lawmaker Jessyn Farrell was the only other candidate to specifically mention climate change and pointed out that since artistic production generally has a low carbon footprint, it’s a great industry to invest in so as we move to a green economy. To create stability for artists, Farrell said, “We need to build on the affordability of housing and we need to invest in social housing. She explained the need to partner with community land trusts and advocated for a set of transferable benefits. She also saw opportunities for arts programs to be used in new ways for youth and educational programs, especially when it comes to healing trauma, and could be used in a “deeply intersectional approach” to reduce gun violence.

Former SEED Seattle Economic Development Director Lance Randall spoke about the need to fund the arts in both the public and private sectors. He gave the example of working with artist Moses Sun, whom Randall helped secure an opportunity to paint a mural in Columbia City. After that, Sun got more opportunities to make art with Facebook and Starbucks. “I can’t say it enough: here’s an opportunity for all the wealth we have here in Seattle – to get the private sector to contribute to programs like this, [and] to support arts and other programs across the city, ”he said.

Other candidates were more generalist in their approach to revitalizing the arts. Art Langlie, executive vice president of Holmes Electric, said Seattle’s budget is constrained in part because of the huge spending on the “homeless problem,” implying that once it gets better , then more money could go to the arts. He suggested the idea of ​​providing coupons for arts events, called “Arts Bucks”.

Candidate and former Seattle Supersonics member James Donaldson recognized the need for the arts, especially in education and youth development, but offered few innovative contributions. Candidate and pastor Don L. Rivers spoke of his closeness to Motown greats, but when it comes to politics, he only went so far as his “3 L’s:” Listen, learn and lead, and not much. something else.

Former city councilor Bruce Harrell has given mixed, albeit honest, messages about his plan for the arts. On the one hand, he said the arts “saved his life” and referred to his efforts to revive the Royal Esquire Club, of which he is president. He also admitted that he didn’t have a very strong connection to the arts, “but I know I’ll work the hardest.”

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