That is not the answer, this is: Grow up. Everyone just grow up. (Including me--see below.) Behave like grownups, and the world will treat us as such.
Artists--grow up! Stop all the moaning and hand-wringing over the lack of funding and the real-estate slaughter. Follow the example of Fuzzy Engine; their one-night-only group show in September (see calendar) is in an old Ballard office building. Put up shows when you can, where you can. Make a lot of noise. Make very, very good work and put it out into the world.
Gallery owners, art institutions, arts administrators--grow up! Go out and find artists whose work is truly innovative and smart. This may require venturing out of your comfortable neighborhoods into the weird pockets where artists are carving out lives. Stop resting on your laurels. Stop showing so many safe artists. Sure, running a gallery is a tough business. But you'll never get a real historical thrill from discovering another glass blower.
Hey you, the art public--grow up! Get off the sofa and go see some art that makes you squirm. Seek out art that's difficult not just because it's sexual or bloody or dark, but because it turns you inward--forces you to look at the blank screen of your mind and listen to the white noise. Read about art. Think about it. Best of all, buy it. Take the money you've set aside for important things and put it right back into the art community where it belongs. This is the way to support the arts. It might not get you a museum wing, or an invitation to a gala party, but it's the most direct, meaningful way.
Finally, critics--grow up! Why do you think no one notices Seattle artists until someone outside Seattle writes about them? Perhaps in part it's because the local critics aren't doing their job of holding artists to a high standard, of pointing out where work is derivative or already too-done, of standing up for oddball work that is also outstanding. Our art scene isn't going to develop on the strength of column inches devoted to an Impressionist show or the Seattle Watercolorist Society. It's going to develop out of attention to the people who are crashing through boundaries, working in weird, self-limiting ways--the frontiersmen and the saints.
Or, we could just regress into a fetal position and watch TV. And First Thursday will continue to be a parade of mediocre work, fire dancing, and Butoh. And, like adolescents, we'll just keep complaining.