Edmonds will be Washington state’s first Creative District

The boundaries of the new Creative District, courtesy of the City of Edmonds.

Edmonds’ downtown area has been designated Washington State’s first Certified Creative District.

Gov. Jay Inslee made the announcement during the annual Governor’s Arts and Heritage Awards Gala Dinner Tuesday in Bremerton. The program, launched in January 2018 by the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), helps communities throughout the state grow their local economies through the arts and culture.

Official presentation of the certificate of Creative District designation to Edmonds Mayor Earling will be made on Monday, Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. in the Brackett Room, third floor of Edmonds City Hall, located at 121 5th Ave. N.  ArtsWA staff will be present, as well as local dignitaries and staff.  This event will be open to the public.

Here’s more from the city’s Wednesday announcement of the designation:

The Creative District program was approved by the Washington State Legislature in 2017 as a platform for communities to grow their arts and creative economies, providing jobs, educational and cultural opportunities, and sustainable economic growth. A Creative District is intended to comprise a geographically defined area where art, cultural, social, and economic activity takes place. It includes cultural facilities, artists, creative industries and other businesses that support these activities.

Edmonds has a prominent and long-lived arts and culture heritage. Primarily concentrated in Downtown Edmonds, theaters, museums and galleries are found side by side with creative restaurants, cafés, distillers, breweries, art shops and boutiques.  Numerous venues for public gathering and performance, public art installations, and its eye-catching flower beds are concentrated in the historic Edmonds downtown.

But even more important to the Creative District review committee, who unanimously selected Edmonds for certification, is the city’s long-term commitment to the arts and culture sector and its ambitious five-year work program intended to build on those successes to enhance the creative sector, enhance public engagement, grow jobs, and provide impetus for capital improvements.

“We are delighted to recognize Edmonds as the State’s first certified Creative District,” said Program Director Annette Roth, “and look forward to working with the city over the next five years to really build on its successes to enhance its creative economy and achieve its objectives. Edmonds is the first Creative District, and we are working with other communities around the state that we hope will be able to join them as Creative Districts in the coming months.”

Creative District designation benefits communities in a number of ways. The state certification is an endorsement of the arts and culture activities that already exist in a community and can be used to attract more artists, entrepreneurs and creative businesses. It helps a community create a focal point where people can gather and enjoy arts and cultural activities that reflect the community. The District acts as a magnet for visitors, drawing both local residents and tourists alike. ArtsWA has created a comprehensive program to help support communities flourish with this designation, providing grant funding opportunities, technical assistance and training for communities and artist entrepreneurs, wayfinding signage and more.

In the city’s announcement, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling said he “couldn’t be more delighted with ArtsWA’s selection of Edmonds as the State’s first certified Creative District. We pulled together a robust public-engagement process over this past year that helped us create goals, objectives and milestones for an ambitious five-year program that we included in our application.

“What’s more, Edmonds has a long history of support for the arts and culture sector, with our Community Cultural Plan, dating back to the 1990s, one of the first in the state,” Earling continued. “My thanks go out to the review committee and ArtsWA staff for selecting Edmonds, and to Gov. Inslee and the State Legislature for authorizing the Creative District program.”


  1. Awesome, now let’s open up our “Welcome” sign design at SR-104 gateway to all our amazing local artist to compete and have the best most Artistically valued sign we can create, showcasing our creative district and our amazing Town & people, and most importantly Let’s allow our citizens to vote on the winner and participate, not hand selected group of people creating and deciding for us. Nice work Mayor and company getting Edmond’s this Designation, very proud moment for Edmond’s and it’s great people. See you at the open house tomorrow to voice my concerns.

    1. A sign is a great idea. I think to honor an arts district recognition of the need for artists to be paid should be part of the process. Contests and competitions simply ask artists to give away their work “for exposure.” The exposure economy is not a sustainable path for artists to grow, make their work and pay for their overhead and lives. I would hope an arts district designation will be part of an effort to grow more sustainability in the form of an actual art economy in Edmonds.

      1. Thank you for this comment, Iskra. While having a vibrant arts community is a wonderful thing, artists DO need to be compensated when they provide things of public value (like a sign for the district) All too often, artist are asked to do things pro bono, and instead of being rewarded for their efforts, they are priced out of the market for studios and rentals.

  2. WONDERFUL!!! Many thanks to Patrick Doherty, Edmonds Economic Development Director, and Frances Chapin, Edmonds Cultural Services Manager, for leading the effort to achieve the designation of a Certified Creative District! Many community members were involved in the public-engagement process, but without Patrick and Frances’ leadership and dedication, this would not have happened.
    Being the first city in Washington to achieve this designation is not only a reason for civic pride, but includes benefits that will serve our community in years to come.

  3. Congratulations to Edmonds as the first Creative District in the State of Washington. It helps to acknowledge all the innovative creative activities in Edmonds.

    Let’s be aware that this is an unfunded program and ask our Legislators to add grant opportunities for 2019!

    1. IF you like the ARTS, in Edmonds.
      The City Council should abolish the vial Edmonds Business Improvement District “Ed!”, which taxes business owners and “Artists” just for being in business. I am sure this designated area will come with another TAX from the CITY.
      The City of Edmonds, always looking for another way to tax people, or hire more employees, as this new designation will ultimately do.
      That is how City government grows. Just keep adding more meaningless things that need to be “Managed”
      Close Ed!
      End Ed!

  4. Huge honor for Edmonds to be named a Creative District and to be the first is fantastic. I second Diane Cuttt’s thanks to Frances and Patrick and all the other folks that worked so hard to make this happen. Congratulations and thank you!

  5. I would certainly like to know who the committee members were?? I hope more artist grants $$$$$ goes to real professional/up and coming real artists……..not those taking funding away from grant programs meant for real artists, fine art artists……Not people using this for financial gain instead of promoting fine art and non fake artists………….The Edmonds Arts Festival, one of the oldest in the nation, clearly dwindling away (I attended and submitted 40!! years ago…………………….this, after 50+ years is a good example of something gone sideways. ………This city, from my perspective, not a whole lot unlike it was when Morris Graves was here and treated badly……………Proof’s in the pudding………..It’s a branded gig” for some………and you know who you are!……..The culture of art moves forward and not backwards……….Show us something we haven’t seen before………. Show us some real art……….not hobbyists who take a couple of classes, from some that don’t know art, just for making $$$$$$$……and then voila! We have art!……..and save the GRANTS for REAL artists……..not branded FAKE artists……..and don’t poison me, sil vous plait

  6. In several polls, Bremerton WA is our artistic epicenter. Nashville is what an art town looks like. Is Edmonds being chosen for this a bit contrived? A couple years ago I started a double-blind art critique project comparing our murals with other towns, namely Salt Lake City. The new mural of the Orcahs is amazing, objectively, and I start thing I can’t finish, but our most prominent art didnt compare well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.