City Arts Commission asks for dedicated liaison, more funding

City councilors plan to bring more artistic endeavors to Sequim next year.

Following a list of priorities provided by the City Arts Advisory Commission, they’ll discuss on Aug. 13 possible funding for public art for 2019.

Some of those priorities include connecting Seal Street from Washington Street to the Civic Center with art and lighting, installing a new water feature or kinetic art piece on the center’s plaza, developing outdoor public art exhibitions and creating a new city staff position to work with the art community.

While specifics aren’t set as for what’s moving forward, city councilors on July 23 unanimously backed the commission’s priorities, minus absent councilor Bob Lake’s vote.

Commission chairman Sharon DelaBarre told city councilors they “cannot lose sight that the arts are economically good for Sequim.”

She said events such as Sequim Lavender Weekend as well as music and theatrical experiences bring people here and help spread the word about Sequim’s offerings.

“It’s supporting the very heart and soul of a community that we all want to live in,” DelaBarre said of the arts. “It is important. The arts have always chartered humanity’s history and help to point us to new directions.”

In its four-plus years of existence, the arts commission manages multiple projects such as monthly art shows, Music in the Park, the Holiday Tree program with handmade ornaments from local fourth graders, and more.

The six-member group continues to solicit and select permanent art work for the Civic Center.

Now-former Assistant City Manager Joe Irvin said the commission has been “high-functioning” since its inception.

“Back in 2010 and 2011, many of the things in the (city’s) Downtown Plan are being put into fruition by this commission,” he said.

One of the commission’s proposals includes creating a staff position at about $77,000 per year, half-supported between the City Clerk and Public Works budgets, to serve as a liaison to the commission and city rather than splitting responsibilities between a handful of staff.

Irvin said the position could manage facility rentals, and various grants and contract management for some services.

Commission members also requested $25,000 in 2019 for programs and they anticipate $8,500 in sponsorships to support the city’s summer concerts and Block Party. City staff report there is $10,300 remaining in a $50,000 fund for arts at the Civic Center following its construction.

Other commission priorities, include:

• Help update the city’s Parks Master Plan to include Cultural Arts priorities

• Expand exhibition programs at other locations

• Develop an artist registry

• Develop outdoor public art exhibitions

• Develop community-based outreach, classes and workshop programs

• Investigate the establishment of a Certified Creative District, a geographically-defined area where art, cultural, social, and economic activity takes place


Jake Reichner, a commission member and art teacher, said he sees Sequim as a “spot ready to explode” for art.

“We have the people here to make this magic,” he said.

Reichner said when his dad Mike started Purple Haze Lavender and helped launch the Sequim Lavender Festival, no one saw what it would become on the horizon.

“We have to believe Sequim is amazing and can always improve,” he said.

Councilor Candace Pratt, who originally proposed the commission’s conception, said she supported the priorities but asked why they’d do outdoor sculptures at the city’s vacant administration building across Sequim Avenue from the Civic Center.

“We’ve got to start somewhere,” DelaBarre said.

She said it’s “an easy initial target across the street.”

Arts commission vice chairman Ross Brown said commissioners want to look at what’s sustainable with what they do because there are a lot of people with a lot of energy.

“We’ll start in a small area and see how sustainable it is,” he said.

City councilor Jennifer States told commission members she was thankful they included culinary offerings as a part of the artistic programs in Sequim and that many of her Seattle colleagues say Sequim is unique with its organic and culinary offerings.

“Art brings business to local merchants,” she said. “I believe that is true especially with the First Friday Art Walk and how essential that is.”

DelaBarre said the updated Guy Cole Events Center could be a good location for food demonstrations and events in the future.

The City Arts Advisory Committee meets at 3 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the Civic Center, 152 W. Cedar St. For more information about the committee, visit or call 360-683-4139.

Reach Matthew Nash at