On an equally balmy and brisk Thursday afternoon, dozens gathered outside of King Street Station to herald the campaign launch for Station Space. The soon-to-be-constructed 10,000 square-foot "creative youth empowerment lab" is another project facilitated by the Cultural Space Agency, the City's cultural real estate development authority. This Station Space will occupy the previously empty second floor of King Street Station, and serve as home base for local arts and cultural organizations that focus on youth development.
Sandwiched between Amtrak on the bottom floor and the Office of Arts and Culture on the top floor, it's been nearly 60 years since the second floor was open for public use. Now, six organizations that mostly service Black and brown youth will share the space: Totem Star, Red Eagle Soaring, Wh!psmart, The Rhapsody Project, and the Jackson Street Music Program. For many of those organizations, Station Space will provide much needed stability and a central location, making it more accessible for youth in the region.
"This space represents our first creative home that we are going to have in our 32-year history," Russell Brooks, executive director of Red Eagle Soaring, which serves at-risk Native youth through theater and performing arts, said at the event. "Once we see this project through, it's only the beginning. We want to be here in another 30 or 40 years. And we will be here."
The space is a direct result of conversations between the City and community members on how best to benefit the ~creative economy~ of Seattle. Cultural Space Agency director Matthew Richter said in a recent phone interview that Station Space is meant to address three niches of the creative sector: the displacement of cultural spaces, pervasive racial inequity, and complete divestment from youth arts programming.
"We talk about so much of the economy as a ladder, but the creative economy is explicitly missing rungs of its ladder," said Richter over the phone. "This is a project that tries to fill in some of those rungs."
Accessible at the ground-level, Station Space is divvied up according to each organization's needs. Red Eagle Soaring will have a black box theater, replete with a lighting rig and meeting areas. The Jackson Street Music Program and The Rhapsody Project, which both focus on conducting music workshops and other cultural learning programs, now have a home base to put on concerts, jam sessions, and discussion groups for kids in their organizations. Wh!psmart, a statewide organization helping creatives with the business side of their work, plans to use its space for remote programming.
Taking up the biggest portion of the floor is Totem Star, an organization focused on connecting youth with music mentorship. Started by musicians Daniel Pak and Thaddeus Turner in 2010, the organization has worked with over 3,000 youth musicians since setting up shop in their (tiny) 225 square-foot recording studio inside Youngstown Cultural Center. But at Station Space, Totem Star will have over 1,600 square feet to play with, including insulated recording studios, practice and performance spaces, and more room for mixing and mastering songs on equipment donated by Sir Mix-a-Lot.
"As an artist, on a technical level, [instead] of us having to work so hard to make the space function, we now have a space that functions for us," said Mirabai Kukathas, a 20-year-old (almost 21, she says) singer/songwriter who has been a Totem Star community member since she was 15, and who now works as their fundraising development manager. "Now we can spend more time working on the music and the community and doing good and having fun."
The Cultural Space Agency has already raised $2.3 million in donations from local private and corporate donors, 4Culture, and Historic South Downtown. To complete everything needed for the space, they'll need to find another $1.2 million. They plan to break ground in January 2023 and officially open Station Space in spring of that same year.