Arts & Culture

Olympia gets creative district designation, only the third in the state

Nature springs to life in annual Procession of the Species celebration

The celebration of earth, wind, water and fire brings thousands to view Olympia's 2018 Procession of the Species.
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The celebration of earth, wind, water and fire brings thousands to view Olympia's 2018 Procession of the Species.

Washington State Arts Commission has certified Olympia as the state’s third creative district.

In announcing the certification, the commission highlighted events such as Arts Walk and Procession of the Species and local theater companies Harlequin Productions and Olympia Family Theater.

Olympia joins Edmonds and Chewelah, a small city north of Spokane, in earning the certification, which the state launched last year.

The district’s boundaries — roughly Market Street Northeast to Eighth Avenue Southeast and Washington Street to Plum Street — are based on the city’s long-term planning document for downtown that identified “character areas.” Those included entertainment and artisan/tech areas, home to performing arts venues and warehouses that could be used as studios or commercial space.

Shauna Stewart of Experience Olympia & Beyond, the local tourism marketing organization, says Olympia is already known as a home for artists and entrepreneurs.

“This whole idea is very much manifested in this concept of the creative district,” she told the City Council this week. “These creative districts really help Washington communities strive, and I’m really excited about the potential that designation has and how we can leverage that in telling the story of the Olympia area.”

The certification, which is good for five years, comes with a $5,000 grant and training on way to use the designation.

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