Is it the rain? Why Seattle is an engine of creativity | KUOW News and Information

Is it the rain? Why Seattle is an engine of creativity

Nov 3, 2017

When playwright Andrew Russell moved to Seattle in 2009, his mother came to visit. It was her first trip to the Pacific Northwest.

She told him something that he hasn’t forgotten: “Seattle is a great place to keep a secret.”

Nearly a decade later, that solitude is getting harder to come by. The population is booming. Traffic is more maddening. Rents and housing prices are spiking. Gentrification is pushing artists out of the city.

There’s a lot at stake for Seattle’s arts community as it struggles to remain on steady footing.

But despite the rapid changes to this growing city, Seattle's creative community remains resilient.

This fall, KUOW's City of Dreams project is exploring why Seattle is a special place for artists, innovators and creators. We asked five artists who work in theatre, arts education, music, film, and visual art: what is it about Seattle?

Who do you see creating and innovating in Seattle now? Let us know.

Credit KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

James Miles, executive director of Arts Corps

“The most impressive thing I’ve seen about art in Seattle is the social justice lens that’s on the art being made; art that’s usually out of the mainstream. To see those different perspectives, it opens up our eyes around what art can do for social change.”

Credit KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Susie Lee, artist, educator, and entrepreneur

“What makes Seattle special is that it’s still fairly small. There are a lot of fluid boundaries and a lot of porosity in who you run into and people’s networks that they open up and share with each other. That kind of fluidity fosters creativity. If you want to will an idea into existence, you can do it here.”

Credit KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Andrew Russell, Intiman Theatre artistic director

“A gift that the city gives you is that the city will not tell you what to do with yourself. It requires that you get comfortable with what your internal artist is saying, and find a way to bring that to life.”

Credit KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Zia Mohajerjasbi, director and cinematographer

“It’s in mid-September up until mid-November where there’s no other place I’d rather be. It’s the way the light shines through maple leaves that are turning bright orange and red, falling in through the living room window. It’s like a day without a genre. And tonally, that’s what I respond to.” 

Credit KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Erin Austin, singer and songwriter for Ok Sweetheart

“You meet people all over who are wanting to create something unique and beautiful and provocative. You look at who’s around you and what they’re doing, and how can you help them make their thing successful. Having that energy and that attitude makes it so there’s so many creative, good things happening here.”