Cultural Spaces

Our cultural spaces define the social character of our neighborhoods. They are the bricks-and-mortar portals to the creative vibrancy our city has to offer. Our office's Cultural Space program exists to create, activate and preserve cultural square footage in the city of Seattle; to work with artists and arts organizations to strengthen their role in charting the future of their creative spaces, and to work with developers and builders to incorporate arts and culture into new projects.

Announcing the Historic Central Area Arts & Cultural District

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture was pleased to proclaim a new cultural district in the Central Area. The Central Area is a center of African-American heritage and history, as well as a neighborhood undergoing rapid change. The Arts District designation recognizes the culturally rich neighborhood and seeks to preserve its character, while stimulating a growing arts environment in the Central Area. In making the announcement, Mayor Ed Murray said, "The Central Area is has made enormous contributions to Seattle's cultural identity, from the music of Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones to the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. The neighborhood's arts heritage is felt far beyond our city boundaries. This designation honors our history and nurtures the Central Area arts community for the next generation."

The Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District designation is dedicated to preserving an African-American legacy in the Central Area; sustaining and strengthening the physical identity and sense of place for cultural relevancy; and establishing continued support of artistic creation, economic vibrancy, livability, affordability, desirability, and artistic vitality. The district will have access to $50,000 to be used towards the Creative Placemaking Toolkit and resources for right-of-way identifiers, wayfinding, busking and plein air painting, art historic markers, pop-up activation and parklets. The Creative Placemaking Toolkit is a suite of tools designed to create, activate and preserve arts and cultural assets in support of artists, art spaces, and neighborhoods.

Spacefinder Seattle

2015 saw the launch of Spacefinder Seattle, a new website designed to connect artists and artspaces at The site's database includes presentation spaces, such as theaters, galleries, cinemas, and museums, and the relatively invisible artists' creative spaces, such as studios, rehearsal rooms, and offices. There are event spaces, meetings spaces, and even raw retail and warehouse spaces for lease. The site is features more than 350 spaces, and continues to grow. Spacefinder Seattle allows artists to search the database by dozens of variables, including price and availability. There are no fees associated with using the site. It is envisioned as a tool to connect artists and arts organizations to available spaces for development, rehearsal, or presentation of their work, and encourage the regional artspace marketplace.

After another year of successful programming, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute successfully split in December 2015, with its artistic arm spinning off to form a new nonprofit, LANGSTON, while the building maintenance and rentals remain with the City. In April the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival (LHAAFF) celebrated its 12th year with the opening documentary, August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, (2015). The documentary is the first in-depth exploration of the life, work and cultural impact of this revered two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning African American playwright and longtime Seattle resident (1945-2005). The festival has continued to present independent films created by emerging and established filmmakers. Documentaries, youth-made, LGBTQ, experimental, shorts and family-friendly films made up the more than 40 films screened during the nine day festival.

Space Lab Northwest

Explore the breadth and depth of Seattle’s cultural world and its impact on our region. With this map you can discover how more than 850 arts and cultural spaces are correlated with demographic analysis; how 11 million square feet of cultural space is connected to Seattle’s employment trends; and how more than 60,000 square feet of gallery space links to economic data. One city, one map.

Click here to view Cultural Spaces Map

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