DSA Convenes New Arts & Culture Coalition To Support Sector Revitalization

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TASWIRA’s Seattle Art Fair Cultural Partner celebration / Photo credit: Beniam Yetbarek
TASWIRA’s Seattle Art Fair Cultural Partner celebration / Photo credit: Beniam Yetbarek

Downtown Seattle is home to dozens of renowned museums, theaters, galleries, live music and performing arts venues, comprising more than 10% of our state’s GDP. The center city also hosts two-thirds of Seattle’s total arts sector jobs.

As venues were forced to close during the pandemic, local arts organizations saw a 45% decline in employment in 2021. Although federal pandemic relief provided initial support, arts organizations found themselves grappling with sustained changes in customer behavior, escalating operating costs and the search for sustainable funding avenues.

To spur progress and ensure that this critical segment of our regional economy is centered in downtown’s revitalization, DSA convened a group of local sector leaders to identify initial challenges and opportunities. At the end of the discovery process, which began in the summer of 2023, we formalized a set of recommendations to guide efforts going forward.

On Jan. 18, 2024, DSA leaders presented key findings and recommendations to downtown stakeholders in partnership with the Office of Economic Development and the Office of Arts and Culture. Both Seattle city departments are helping implement key components of Mayor Harrell’s Downtown Activation Plan. OED Director Markham McIntrye and Arts and Culture Director Gülgün Kayim spoke to planning work the city has led, which paralleled many of the findings and recommendations DSA’s report uncovered. The event culminated with the launch of a new multi-sector coalition chaired by DSA Board Chair Sung Yang of Pacific Public Affairs and Jeff Draeger, COO of SAM.

The public-private coalition will contribute subject matter expertise to augment, refine and further define specific actions found in the work group’s initial findings. This group will meet periodically to address specific issues and provide support around key advocacy milestones.

To stay engaged in this ongoing initiative or to join the coalition, contact

Your support will help pave the way for a healthy new era of arts and culture in downtown Seattle.