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caption: File: Mayor Jenny Durkan smiles while giving a speech on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, at The Westin in Seattle. Mayor Durkan's latest proposed budget would include funding to support creative industries and the arts.
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File: Mayor Jenny Durkan smiles while giving a speech on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, at The Westin in Seattle. Mayor Durkan's latest proposed budget would include funding to support creative industries and the arts.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle's creative sector: Foundation of the new economy?

Some experts say that Seattle’s workforce wasn’t prepared for the high-paying jobs that came with Amazon and other big tech companies.

They claim that the influx of outside workers drove up the cost of living and pushed out many service sector workers — and artists.

Now, in an attempt to plan for the next wave of technological innovation, including 5G internet, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has proposed a plan called the Inclusive Creative Industry Program.

Under Durkan's latest budget proposal, Seattle’s Office of Economic Development would pivot from more traditional job and business development strategies to investment in the city’s creative sector. Broadly defined, that sector includes everything from software developers at Amazon to pop-music songwriters.

Bobby Lee, who took leadership of the OED in April, said that if the city doesn’t think strategically about changes that will come with 5G technology, it runs the risk of repeating the same things that happened with Amazon’s rapid expansion.

“5G technology and infrastructure will enable smart buildings, autonomous vehicles. Physical assets will proactively address human concerns,” Lee said. As many as 15% of jobs could be lost to artificial intelligence.

Lee believes the jobs that will endure will be rooted in the creative industries. “So, with that in mind,” Lee said, “the question is, can we position Seattleites to take advantage of the next economy and benefit from it?”

Mayor Durkan’s budget proposal allocates money for three staff positions; two of those would augment the OED’s work with the existing film and music industries. That work was formerly overseen by the Office of Film and Music. A third position in the Office of Arts and Culture would focus on artistic development, cultural policy, and advocacy for creatives in the city.

The Seattle City Council will vote on a budget before Thanksgiving.