Archive for the Ah Seattle... Category

A guest column by Roger Valdez in the Friday, January 25, edition of the Seattle Times tells a story familiar to artists (and to CAFA readers). Arts organizations there are getting squeezed out by a callous market and an uncaring local community.

Over the past decade, several local arts organizations, … have folded because of space issues. Today, tenants of the Odd Fellows Hall on Capitol Hill are struggling with the possibility of rent increases that will make it impossible for them to do business.

The crisis faced by small- and medium-sized arts organizations in Seattle comes down to two words: real estate. How to acquire, renovate and maintain one’s own home isn’t something taught in art school. Arts organizations produce art, not facilities plans.

The story follows a familiar path. A local arts organization without much money finds space in an older building where the rent is reasonable. The owner is willing to allow the group to knock out a couple of walls, make as much noise as it wants, and start doing what it does: art.

The owner isn’t interested at that time in selling the underutilized property for high rise-condos or other development, and the arts organizations, taking heart, sign or extend leases.

But, the day comes when the economic lure becomes too great, or family dynamics change, and the owner decides to sell. Faced with a changing use of the property, the arts tenants put out a call for help, but it’s too late.

Does it have to be this way?