Heidi Wills, District 6 Candidate — 2019 General Election Arts Platform

Candidate: Heidi Wills, Candidate for District 6


Seattle’s commitment to the arts is what makes our city vibrant and soulful. Human expression of all kinds are celebrated, fostered and supported by our community, and local government needs to be an integral part of supporting our artists and arts organizations.

Heidi Wills, Candidate for District 6

I’m personally invested in the arts as a small business owner of a Seattle company called Compendium, creator of inspirational gift products. Our most popular title is “What Do You Do with An Idea,” which speaks to the reader about embracing ideas, regardless of others’ judgment. Our staff of 65 people are mostly creatives: writers, editors, artists, and graphic designers. We are able to attract top talent from around the country because of the synergy Seattle provides for the creative class. Inspiration is everywhere in our city and talented artists want to live here.

To ensure that Seattle remains a place that attracts, cultivates and retains creative people, we need city leaders who prioritize the arts. We need housing policies to ensure that artists of all incomes can afford to live here. We need to direct funding to small arts organizations which are the incubators for creative expression as well provide funding to the larger, more established arts organizations which make Seattle a world class city.

We also need to preserve the spaces which are the gathering places to enjoy the arts. As our city continues to grow, we need leaders to work with community members to protect what makes Seattle special. If elected, I would work collaboratively with the Office for Arts and Culture and the Seattle Arts Commission.

A meaningful arts experience that has stayed with me involves my teenage daughter. When she was younger, she was not very verbally expressive. Since then, she’s been diagnosed with ADHD and I understand that she spends more time in her own mind than I do. Creative writing has become the outlet by which she shares her poignant outlook on life. I recognize how the arts have the power to transform lives.

She participated in a summer camp at Hugo House and I’ll never forget her presentation at the culmination. She eloquently shared her writing at a podium on stage in front of a large audience. Her poetry was thought-provoking and moving. Building on that positive experience, she overcame nervousness in leaving home and attended Interlochen’s creative writing summer program. Normally reserved and shy, she made friends there who share her passion for creative writing. This had a positive impact on her self-esteem and her goals in life.

Another impressionable experience has been seeing how people have received our company’s first picture book (mentioned above). We’re a small, independent publisher which put no marketing dollars into promoting our book. “What Do You Do with An Idea” won the WA State Book Award and became a New York Times’ best seller. It’s been translated into 23 languages and sold over 1.5 million copies. It inspired Cleveland’s Inlet Dance Company to adapt it into a dance performance. It inspired an original score performed by the Adelaide Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestras. It’s being made into a movie by the same producer as the Alvin and the Chipmunk movies. Museums and schools use it to encourage children to embrace their ideas. The Department of Education in Israel translated it into both Hebrew and Arabic as part of their curriculum to teach peace in their schools. I mention this because ideas feed off ideas, and creativity fosters more creativity. The products of creativity have the ability to galvanize people around important concepts that have the power to inform and elevate us.

The arts are vital to us as individuals and to our greater society. We need creative outlets to reflect the human spirit. We need the arts to raise our dialogue around important societal problems that keep us awake at night. We need the arts to give voice to our dreams. We need the arts to express meaningful human experiences that remind us of our common bonds and our humanity. I will be a strong advocate for the arts.