Burien Arts Commission Wants Town Square to be ‘Arts & Cultural District’

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At Monday night’s meeting (Sept. 17), members of the Burien Arts Commission read from and submitted the following letter to the Burien City Council regarding creating an ‘Arts & Cultural District’ in the Town Square area:

August 28, 2012

City Council of Burien,

The City of Burien is at a crucial point of development. It has been documented that a strong arts and cultural district is one of the most important ingredients in an economically successful city. An arts and cultural district is created when a cluster of arts facilities and amenities are established at a city’s center.

The base for such a district has already been constructed in Town Square. We strongly recommend that Town Square be designated as an Arts and Cultural district and that future development contain venues or establishments commensurate with that designation. In accordance with the 2020 vision of the Comprehensive Plan, this district would contain arts, culture, or heritage venues as well as quality retail and restaurants.

We advise that you contact Harbor Urban as soon as possible and encourage them to incorporate into their design an arts and cultural focus for Town Square.

An Arts and Cultural District would ensure that commerce thrives, and would create conditions that support residents as well as draw people from other areas to experience the vitality of our city.

We support the implementation of Town Square as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan and encourage the City require any future development to contain the elements necessary to create an arts and cultural district.

The Arts and Economic Development Committee of the Burien Arts Commission is eager to assist in any and all capacities with the Council, advisory commissions and city staff to ensure this vision becomes a reality.

Burien Arts Commission Commission Members:

Chloe Bjordahl
Shelley Brittingham
Donna DiFiore
Robbie Howell
Michael O’Neill
Shelli Park
Andrea Reay
Debbie Thoma
Virginia Wright

We’re curious to find out what our Readers think – do you agree or disagree with this idea? Please leave your thoughtful Comment(s) below…

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2 Responses to “Burien Arts Commission Wants Town Square to be ‘Arts & Cultural District’”
  1. Eric says:

    According to the cover story in ICMA Public Management magazine for October 2008, the arts “generates nearly $30 billion in revenue for local, state and federal governments every year. By comparison, the three levels of government collectively spend less than $4 billion annually to support arts and culture. This is a spectacular 7-to-1 return on investment that would thrill even Wall Street veterans.” In these times a 7-to-1 return on investment for the city sounds pretty good.

    Another point made in the ICMA article, “In King County, Washington (Seattle), again according to Dun & Bradstreet, 7,756 arts-related businesses employed 32,080 people. Although the high number even surprises most artists, the real story is in the comparison of 2007 with 2008. During this time, arts employment grew by 12.49 percent while the arts businesses grew by 11.87 percent. In other words, in a time of decreasing or stagnant employment growth, the arts are adding jobs to the local economy.”

    . . . .

    “It is not just large cities that enjoy the economic benefit of the arts: smaller communities do, too. In Carmel, Indiana, with a 2003 population of 43,083, there are 171 art-related businesses that employ 754 people. From 2007 to 2008, the arts industry grew by 7.55 percent for businesses and 3.15 percent for employees. Thus whether you are a major community or not, the arts are present and they contribute, year after year, to the economy.”

    Basically, the arts are a fairly clean business that can add greatly to Burien’s local economy through businesses and employment. They draw money from outside the City into Burien for things like tickets, food and drink before and after the arts event, and the nationwide the return on government investment is 7 to 1, which one would expect would be repeated in Burien.

  2. Neighborhood Guy says:

    I think an Arts & Cultural district as part of the Town Square concept would be great! Let’s be a destination for people to come and experience the arts through live music venues, galleries and other realted options. It also sounds like it makes good economic sense.

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