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Our story

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The Capitol Hill Arts District formed in 2014 with support from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture as the city’s first Arts and Cultural District. The Arts District represents a collaborative partnership of arts organizations, artists, small businesses, developers, and community members. Representatives of these groups form the Capitol Hill Arts District Steering Committee, which meets monthly to carry out our work. 

 

Working across a spectrum of media, the members represent dance, film, music, visual art, literary, theater, and the state’s artist service organization. We engage the public through one on one conversations, the monthly neighborhood art walk, Washington Lawyers for the Arts legal counseling sessions, earned media, social media, social media ads, print media, community fairs, free outdoor movies in the park, the neighborhood chamber of commerce, the annual Pride festival, and of course, many, many happy hours.


The Capitol Hill Arts District is managed by Community Roots Housing. Since 1976, Community Roots has served low-income communities in the Seattle area through the development and preservation of affordable housing. As a Community Development Corporation (CDC) originally founded to meet the needs of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, its work has evolved over more than four decades to include equitable development that provides affordable opportunities for renters, small businesses and service organizations throughout the region.

 
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Our mission, vision, and values

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Mission

 

We are a coalition of arts advocates galvanized to keep the neighborhood a thriving art scene invested in the creation of daring work, independent artists, and emerging ideas. We promote cultural engagement, harness resources, and preserve, enhance, and create space for artists and the arts.

 

Vision

 

The Capitol Hill Arts District takes a broad view - artists and arts organizations, developers, and small businesses all represent cultural institutions who stand to benefit from the connectivity and support of a resilient arts community. We connect to a broader city network of neighborhood arts districts and other citywide cultural institutions to leverage our collective power and wisdom in support of arts and cultural preservation.

 

Values

  • Transparency

  • Equitable access to opportunity

  • Equitable representation in decision-making

  • Local control and ownership by artists

 

About Capitol Hill

 

Capitol Hill, Seattle is the densest urban village in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2010, it has been one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the city, and the pace of development continues to accelerate.

 

History of the arts in Capitol Hill

 

Long the center of a cutting edge arts scene, Capitol Hill neighborhood is home to more artists than any other neighborhood. It is also home to an organically formed cluster of cultural spaces, largely housed in pre-war “Auto Row” warehouses. Located adjacent to downtown and South Lake Union, the neighborhood has become a desirable place to live, attracting dozens of mixed use projects and highly paid workers seeking short commutes. The majority of arts organizations rent their spaces and, in the last fifteen years, more than fifteen neighborhood arts organizations and nonprofits have lost their homes. Those remaining face an ever increasing risk of displacement made more pronounced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Legacy of the LGBTQ community

Dating back to the 1970s, the Capitol Hill neighborhood has been the center of LGBTQ life in Seattle and is often a landing place for new arrivals to the region. Rainbow-painted crosswalks and banners welcome neighbors and visitors, and LGBTQ-focused and LGBTQ-owned businesses abound. Each June, a Pride Festival, Dyke March, and Trans Pride are celebrated

throughout the month.

 

Our neighbor, the Central District

 

Capitol Hill stands adjacent to the Central District, the center of African American life in Seattle for 130 years. Past housing policies pushed families of color into the neighborhood and limited access to economic mobility. The community now faces an overwhelming threat of displacement and has identified cultural preservation as an urgent need.

Who we are

The Capitol Hill Arts District Steering Committee includes leaders and members of local and

state-level arts organizations, artists, and other community stakeholders:

 

  • Brace Evans, Actor

  • Diana Adams, Vermillion,

  • Erin Johnson, Velocity Dance Center

  • Jason Lajeunesse, Capitol Hill Block Party

  • Jeanine Anderson, Capitol Hill Art Walk

  • Jena Thornton, Kinzer Partners

  • Julie-C, Forever Safe Spaces

  • Lana Blinderman, Artist

  • Rob Arnold, Hugo House

  • Terry Novak, Photo Center NW, Chair

  • Wesley Frugé, Intiman Theater, BeautyBoiz

  • Zach Frimmel, Artist

 

The Capitol Hill Arts District is staffed by the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, a program of Community Roots Housing. To inquire about attending a Steering Committee meeting, please reach out to:

Terry Novak, Chairtnovak@pcnw.org

Erin Fried, EcoDistrict Deputy Director, efried@communityrootshousing.org

 

In the News

Find the latest news about the Capitol Hill Arts District here. Want to stay in the loop? Subscribe to our mailing list. 

Media contacts: Terry Novak, Chair, and Erin Fried, EcoDistrict Program Manager

 

Recent Press

 

Press Releases

 

  • April 16, 2020 - Announcing the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival

  • February 16, 2016 - V2 art space rises in Capitol Hill’s old Value Village