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Politics is a narcissistic game. Honestly, I prefer to do what I came here for: to make music.

Updated: Jul 25




When I arrived in Seattle a decade and a half ago, it was with the the intent of making music. As life got more unaffordable for artists, however, like so many others, I traded the mic for better paying work. Unlike a lot of other artists, I just couldn't leave beautiful, relatively smart Seattle.


“I'd come back to Seattle in a second if I thought I could earn the kind of money I'd need to live there now by playing the bass....”

Unlike me, many great and talented fledgling musicians, filmmakers, and other artists have left. First, like Laura Veirs and Neko Case, they'd move to places such as Portland And Vermont. Then, Portland got expensive. Some moved inland, others out of country or to 'whore' themselves in NYC or L.A. because they just wanted to play or creatively shoot video for a living.


Don Lieber, a session player, former bassist for Pepe & The Bottle Blondes and a reoccurring Broadway & Off-Broadway musician spent a decade in the Northwest, playing Hedwig productions and Pepe concerts, and on albums for recording artists in Seattle and Portland. After a call for an extended gig out of town, he never came back.

“I'd come back to Seattle in a second if I thought I could earn the kind of money I need to live there now by playing the bass. Part of Seattle's magic was it's marriage of affordability and cultural thrust".


Indeed. Seattle used to be one of the most affordable big cities in the country. Back when Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Pearl Jam (etc.), Sir Mix-A-Lot August Wilson, Singles and Sleepless in Seattle cemented the Emerald City as one of the USA's great cultural capitols. Even without the nation's awareness that Seattle gave the world an amazing jazz scene, Hendrix and Heart, Seattle was the gold standard of arts & entertainment.


Slowly, however, Seattle's business successes racked up and so too did the cost of living. By the new millennium, folks like Macklemore were living in their parent's basements, if they had a parent with a basement, just to make it all work.


Fast forward a quarter century+ of meteoric economic expansion with relatively little more than governmental lip service for and exploitation of the region's arts makers, it's actual artists and music, film, theatre and other creators are leaving the city in droves. The pay isn't good enough. The infrastructure isn't proportionate to the level of talent and output. Private support isn't adequate. Public support is woefully lacking. Housing costs are crushing and it's a great challenge to find housing near fellow collaborators, never mind practice space and studio space. To boot, getting around for a lot of artists who collaborate is an expensive pain in the ass.


Opportunities to further incorporate arts education in our public schools (and provide more paying day work for our artists) are constantly missed. And, City Hall misses almost every opportunity to be cheerleaders for our arts, leaving a city less excited and informed about all of the great work here being done by the largely underpaid and struggling. If artists were major league athletes (no disrespect to our athletes!), well, what a different story...


tped As a result, a city that maintained t local ein overall forfeited economic activity and hundreds of interesting creative jobs.

As a result, a city that maintained the depth of local talent to field enough crew members to host three full-scale filming productions in the 1990s can barely muster up one crew today. No matter, most Seattle-set movies and TV shows are now filmed in Portland, Vancouver and L.A., costing Seattle hundreds of millions in overall forfeited economic activity and hundreds or thousands of interesting creative jobs.


But hey, the state saved money by not offering incentives (and, really, truly, losing out on all of the peripheral economic activity, attention, caché and tourism dollars associated with the types of movies that used to be filmed here). Even the Twilight superfans who travel to their Mecca in Forks and Port Angeles typically fly into SeaTac and spend time and money in SeaTown as part of their fandom vacations.


Further insult? Amazon is now a massive player in the film and television industries, HBO, Disney, HULU and Apple all have significant operations here now and Microsoft could and should be an industry player. Managed and encouraged properly, all of these companies would be filming here, developing content here and making deals here. The potential, handled correctly, could lead to thousands of great jobs (see Vancouver - the real one, not 'the 'couv') and BILLIONS in economic activity. For example, ask yourself: Why is MSNBC based in NYC? Aren't there enough networks occupying that space of news and infotainment from a Big Apple perspective already?


So, I say, let's stop blowing it. Let's support Converge Media up to similar national stature, for a uniquely Northwest perspective, championing an organization that does more good with their budget than the national broadcasters usually do.


Lest Seattle become completely overrun by tech (we love your innovation, talents and prosperity-generation techies, but... your industry is not a good recipe for a great urbane stew or salad, should not become the only major industry and employment generator, in and of itself), we must work harder to diversify so that we have jobs for the many creative people raised here and attracted to Seattle for all of the best reasons -its spirit, its culture, its beauty, its intelligence and its incredible uniqueness. Let's stop hemorrhaging and wasting artistic talent. Reverse that. I will.


Let's harness the success of our larger companies that work in the creative spaces (just, they currently don't do so in Seattle) and unique institutions such as SIFF, Sub Pop, MoPop, The Vera Project and KEXP and let's build up an arts/entertainment powerhouse that can be part of a mutually complimentary business community where existing tech companies and new, arts-related ones work together to innovate further, stronger, better and in ways that provide a wider choice of well-paying employment that's suitable for all types of learners and doers.


Their is a tiny crack where we can begin to get the light in. King County is doing something to turn things around. A little. And it's a start. https://kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/news/release/2021/April/03-film-studio.aspx


But there's so much more. So...where to start? If elected, I will harness my arts industry experience from NYC, Albany, NY, Hartford, Montréal, Portland and here to give our Arts/Entertainment industry a swift kick in the ass and a positive jolt.


I will work hard to make Seattle inviting for artists/musicians/actors/dancers/filmmakers, etc, and end the seeming effort to force us all out.


And, as for these awful, pretentious, toothless, disingenuous "Arts Districts"? (yes, they exist, believe it or not). No more. Not unless and until provide actual affordable musician/artist housing, support grants & funds, hyper-affordable arts work spaces and infrastructural investment that puts their money where their empty-promise mouths are. The city must stop using artists as pawns. 12th Avenue Arts? Me arse.


The only arts district the city has is Seattle Center. and, there's no housing for artists anywhere near it. Not. Acceptable.


We must create Affordable Housing & Artist/Musician/Filmmaker workspaces.


And more, better festivals to celebrate their works.


And, turn Seattle's Office of Film & TV into something much more meaningful, advocacy and action-based.

Stay tuned here for my plans to do just that.

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