Candidate: Egan Orion, Candidate for District 3
- Website: https://www.eganforseattle.org/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eganforseattle/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/eganorion
What is your arts platform?
As someone who runs one of the largest arts & cultural events in the region, PrideFest, I find the arts essential to a healthy, vibrant society. The arts have a unique way of bringing communities together and elevating the ideas and beliefs of a generation. At PrideFest, we are able to give a diverse array of artists a platform to share their art which reaches thousands of people every year. In my work, we lift the voices of marginalized communities through art and spread a message of love and diversity to allied communities.
Over a period of several years, I produced over 150 flash mobs both here in Seattle and around the United States. I saw how music and dance connected thousands of participants to each other and the inspiration that gave to the 20+ million people who viewed our videos online. Art belongs to everyone and is made better by community participation.
How do you envision the arts as part of the Seattle, especially as part of critical issues including access, affordability, displacement, economic development, education, preservation, and racial equity?
When I talk about small business and diverse neighborhoods, I see the arts as central to that. The city should be funding and supporting arts programs for youth. Music, fine arts, graphic design, and theater programs can be fun and engaging and provide a pathway to enrichment and a long, fulfilling career. These programs often enhance students performance in other subjects as well and can provide new opportunities for expression. All too often in education we think of preparing kids for college and focusing on language, math, and science. The arts must exist in this pantheon of core disciplines; otherwise, we leave so many children behind.
How do the arts reflect the voices, perspectives, and communities in your district? What are challenges and opportunities?
Communities like Capitol Hill and the Central District that have a historic arts district and have long focused on art in public spaces make for more vibrant, dynamic, and prosperous places. The monthly art walk on Capitol Hill brings out thousands of people to dozens of venues to enjoy art that’s being produced right here in our neighborhoods. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute has been cultivating arts and culture in Seattle–especially that of the African American–for over forty years now. Art connects communities, is essential to personal and community expression, and makes our neighborhoods more connected. Theater works, cinemas, art galleries, and other creative spaces spur economic impact far beyond the four walls of a theater space to restaurants and bars in the neighborhood.
How do you plan to work with governmental agencies including the Office of Arts and Culture and the Seattle Arts Commission?
I will work with the Office of Arts & Culture and city agencies to ensure the admissions tax is preserved exclusively for arts and cultural programs in this city. Our arts programs across the board, but especially those targeted to youth, have been chronically underfunded and the admissions tax is an essential funding source to keep these programs afloat.
Describe a meaningful arts experience that has stayed with you over time. How have the arts affected your life?
As a young gay kid who hadn’t yet fully understood why he felt so different from his peers, starting in community theater gave me the opportunity to find a means of expression beyond my circle of friends. It’s what helped me to grow and thrive into a young man. I want that opportunity for other kids. Investments in arts and cultural programs are an investment in community and the future.
From theater as a kid, to graphic and web design work as a young man, to someone who today produces the largest arts and cultural event in Seattle, I’ve been immersed in the creative economy for over 25 years now. I know the value of the arts because I live it every day and will be the strongest champion for arts and cultural programs on city council.
Wanna learn more? Read about my arts & culture policy here.