On Saturday night, June 17, 2023 at the Highline Heritage Museum, creative types and supporters gathered to celebrate the official designation of Burien as a Creative District.
The idea of a creative district had been discussed in Burien for more than ten years before it became a reality, thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers.
What did it mean? Who was involved? What new opportunities await Burien with arts and culture?
- There was food catered for by Centro Kitchen and wine, all provided for free.
- There was a question-and-answer period, where people asked what it meant and how it all came about (see video below).
- The application for being seen by the State of Washington for having a Creative District is 24 pages long and includes many letters from citizens, art groups, music groups, and businesses.
- Documentation on previous art events was also included to provide a detailed overview of activity in Burien.
- City Councilmembers were there and asked good questions about dollar value, or specific opportunities now available.
While the answers were unclear about exactly how much funding will be available, the avenues were now open. This step towards applying for new grants was completed, and the next step was dependent on what the community needed.
I attended a previous meeting and gave my opinion on what I thought was missing; I suggested a public art place for temporary art or interactive art. The first kind of art which meets these requirements was a mural space.
I also suggested the Creative District be free of corporate advertising or religious influence, as many public areas are already provided for them.
There were many other opinions voiced at the celebration. There was a feedback table for people to write down their ideas like a performance art center, a performing arts home for BAT Theatre, and other ideas.
People genuinely seemed excited about what new things could come from this designation.
Beautiful Map Created by Local Artist Amber Nichol
Another object predominantly displayed in the front was a hand-painted map of where exactly the Burien Creative District is located.
The map was painted by local artist Amber Nichol and featured all the neighborhoods, with illumination around the downtown SW 152nd Street area, extending up to a small area to the Boulevard Park neighborhood. There was an Orca, trees, and beautiful scroll work at the top. The map was different than a Google map since it didn’t show any businesses but instead focused on residential neighborhoods.
I had an opportunity to ask mapmaker/artist Amber Nichol a few questions about the process and her involvement:
How long did the map take to make?
“There are probably about 80 hours into it so far. The detail of the downtown corridor is going on 20 hours and Boulevard Park probably 6 so far. There is more work to be done on the neighborhood maps, and I will be working on that over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be illustrating specific buildings, points of interest and other fun details. This is one of the more ambitious commissions I’ve taken, but the opportunity to make a fantasy/RPG (role playing game) style map of such a local place was too fun to pass up.”
Were there any questionable areas on the map to include/exclude?
“The two districts were outlined for me initially, so the main challenge was how to make them ‘pop’ from the map of the city. I came up with a neon purple with a white glow, inspired by a mural at Supernova in Sodo. The individual neighborhood paintings are easier to define, and have a fun fantasy feel.”
Are there any areas not included on the map you kind of thought should be included?
“I thought it would be fun to add parks, or other nature-oriented points of interest, but ultimately went with the simple clarity of the districts only. I also decided to add the neighborhoods instead of street names/numbers to keep with the fantasy map feel.”
Any thoughts on the district effects on new artists or art groups?
“Artists benefit by being welcomed and supported in a hospitable environment. The community benefits by having a vibrant and diverse collection of public art, and in turn, tourists and art seekers see the areas as places of relevance.”
Below is a video of highlights from the launch party, as shot/edited by Scott Schaefer (running time 14-minutes, 30-seconds):
Below are some photos of the event, courtesy Lainey Poelzer (click arrows to view photos):
So, the Creative District is now official, and it is the first step in perhaps many of growing and expanding the arts in Burien. The question remains on how this will impact tourism, businesses, and individual artists. Other cities have gone through this process and seen a decrease in crime in Creative Districts by 18% and increases in student participation in art events as well as higher graduation rates. Perhaps Burien will be able to benefit in a similar way to these boons.
Learn more about this exciting new designation here:
Learn more about ArtsWA’s Creative District program here.