CANDIDATE: Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle City Council District 8 Candidate (Incumbent)
- Website: Teamteresa.org
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Tell us about your involvement in Seattle’s art and cultural life. How do you make art a part of your life?
Our city is world-renowned for the talent, culture, and art produced here– from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana, we’ve seen legends emerge from this city. I feel lucky to engage with so many mediums of art in this city created by local artists. Prior to quarantine, live performances were highlights of this city. The synergy of creative artists and interactive audiences is one of the things I miss most about the pre-COVID world. I remember my first campaign for City Council, four years ago, we held a fundraiser at the Crocodile with performing acts from PNW-based Pony Time, Lisa Prank and Childbirth– that is one of my top favorite campaign events. Bands born in Seattle will forever hold a special place in my heart, having seen Soundgarden, My Sister’s Machine, Smokey Brights and more over the years. The arts and cultural life in this city are the lifeblood of our entertainment and communities, it supports small business and we must support artists and venues that make this heartbeat. I look forward to continuing to work with the arts and cultural community to invest in the creative industry and foster an environment for creative expression and the space to share art as we emerge from this pandemic.
Engaging with art in meaningful ways goes beyond live shows I’ve learned. Jake Prendez — a peer from my days in MEChA at the University of Washington has helped incorporate art into my life with the intersection of political empowerment. As a local Chicano artist and owner of Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery, he’s brought the history of Mexican and Mexican-American art to our local community which offers me an artistic framework to approach cultural identity and political commentary. Learning about and buying art from local artists to share with loved ones or display in your home is a beautiful way to incorporate art into your daily life and I’m a proud owner of a handful of pieces from Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery that I absolutely love.
This survey from ArtsFund shows that the Seattle arts and cultural community has seen significant declines (over 50%) in income. The arts already operate on a razor’s edge and many organizations may not be able to afford the cost of reopening. How will you support Seattle’s arts and culture sector in its reopening and revitalization?
Reopening and revitalizing the arts and culture sector must be a part of a just and equitable recovery in which we adapt from what we’ve learned from this past year in the midst of the pandemic to improve society. There are many aspects of recovery that must be accounted for: racial equity, social equality, economic prosperity, and environmental justice, and arts and culture can serve as an essential part of that healing process. The COVID-19 crisis wreaked havoc on our community and local economy, with hundreds of small businesses across our city shuttering, workers facing unemployment or underemployment, and families facing food insecurity, housing instability, and impossible choices. To overcome these challenges and provide support for the arts and all other sectors, businesses, and individuals who facing so much uncertainty, I led on the passage of the JumpStart Seattle progressive revenue bill and so much more to build a stronger, more resilient Seattle, and I am certain this bill will provide for an equitable recovery.
More recently, I led the passage of the $128.4 million Seattle Rescue Plan which includes assistance to arts organizations and businesses as well as to individual artists. The arts and culture of Seattle are an integral part of what makes Seattle unique, drive its creativity and innovation, and have a special ability to heal our community after the past year and a half of living in perpetual crisis which is why I supported including the Seattle rescue Plan assistance. In the Seattle Rescue Plan, there are $3 million allocated to recovery grants for arts and culture businesses and organizations and direct financial assistance available for individual artists. This type of assistance will support BIPOC artists and employees of the Arts and Culture sector thereby preventing further cultural destruction and exploitation that has occurred in the past due.
Investing in artists and their spaces is how we can upkeep what makes our city so creative and unique. Through this last year, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about diverse art mediums in Seattle. I visited Urban ArtWorks last week at the Inscape Arts and Cultural Center where Paul Nunn, their projects lead and local artist, shared more about their youth engagement program that trains and offers apprenticeship and mentorship opportunities to create public art. The building itself held so much history and so much creativity! It showed me the true potential our city has to utilize public space for public art and I can’t wait to visit the locations across our city that this amazing group worked on! I am incredibly interested in learning how we, as a city, can create more public spaces like free walls for safe and legal spray paint art especially for young artists. I was also able to visit the Nordic museum to see their first floor art display of national treasures from past centuries. The mixture of historical art and art from up and comers is what’s beautiful about our city– we must sustain that innovative and inspirational mixture through investing in our arts and culture sector as we reopen
How do you envision arts and culture helping the city heal from the past year and a half?
We’ve had a year of extremes and profound hardship. From those who have lost their livelihoods to those who have lost the lives of loved ones. Our economy has been devastated with black and brown workers contracting and dying from COVID at exponentially higher rates, small businesses – especially those owned by people of color – shuttering, and growing food and housing insecurity. This has been coupled with a long-overdue moment of racial reckoning, a call to action to address the other public health crises of police violence and racism that permeates in our cities. Arts and culture can help us begin to heal by promoting solidarity, creating connections, and restoring a sense of safety within our communities.
How do you see arts and culture contributing to Seattle’s quality of life?
Arts and culture enhance the quality of life for Seattle residents and visitors in a number of ways from building social relations to spurring creativity among the community. It is also known that arts and culture can improve mental and physical health and that they support vibrant communities whose members can connect despite being from all walks of life, both of which greatly contribute to quality of life. Arts and culture can also express emotion and encourage self-reflection allowing for individuals to heal and grow during these difficult times.
Please describe any work you have done in your current position so far to strengthen Seattle’s arts and culture sector.
As a sitting councilmember, I recently led the passage of the Seattle Rescue Plan which has allocated significant resources to the arts and culture sector to support its reopening after a tumultuous year. As a candidate running for Seattle City Council, I held a fundraising event earlier this year in collaboration with artists and a small business in the arts and culture sector. Jake Prendez, a talented local Chicano artist and old peer of mine from my MEChA days at UW, owns Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery where he kindly invited us to host a virtual art gallery tour exploring themes of “Art as Rebellion” and a conversation around May’s exhibit featuring essential workers in honor of May Day.
The impact and intersection of art and politics is extremely important. It is a profound medium for political empowerment and enfranchisement and to be able to discuss the history of Chicanx art on the political landscape of both Mexico and America was something I was so grateful to share with my longtime friend and locally revered artist, Jake Prendez. To be able to support local artists through the significant resource allocation of the Seattle Rescue Plan and to share the work of these artists in my current position as sitting council member and candidate for re-election are just a few ways I’ve been proud to uplift the arts and culture sector in our city in the last year.