Tim Keck and Jerry Everard at a small business event for 12th Avenue Arts
Perhaps the single most exciting aspect of the campaign for 12th Avenue Arts has been the support of neighborhood businesses. In January ArtPlace America was in Seattle to celebrate Pike/Pine as a top ArtPlace neighborhood. This distinction was given both because of the concentration of arts groups and the vibrant community small businesses.
These are restaurants, coffee shops, newspapers, bars and barbershops that have grown up with the neighborhood, and are generously giving back to the community. This support of the arts is particularly moving – when these businesses make a three year pledge, you know they will have to get up every morning to earn that money.
At a recent gathering of small businesses, Tim Keck, founding publisher of the Stranger alternative weekly, spoke about the changes happening in Pike/Pine. “While I welcome all the new bars and restaurants,” said Tim, “it’s important to preserve other uses in the neighborhood.” That’s why he’s supporting the mixed-use 12th Avenue Arts project.
Another example of local business support is the Capitol Hill Block Party, who is supporting 12th Avenue Arts in an inventive way. With every ticket purchased, you’re invited to make a donation – and they’ll match all donations up to $5,000.
There is much documentation about the arts helping to revitalize a neighborhood. From galleries occupying vacant storefronts to artists moving into commercial lofts, the arts can thrive in spaces where few businesses could. This is assisted by the fact that Seattle has supported the nonprofit arts through grants, incentives and tax abatements. Without them, few organizations could survive.
It’s equally well known that for profit businesses, particularly restaurants, can draw resources to underinvested communities. With rising rents, particularly in new construction, and continuing pressure from internet retail, small neighborhood businesses can struggle to survive. It’s common to hear that healthy neighborhoods require a mix of arts, restaurants and strong retail. Is some system of retail subsidy needed to preserve these uses? Share your thoughts in the comments.