Anacortes receives Creative District certification

Anacortes receives Creative District certification Main Photo

30 Nov 2023

The Washington Arts Commission (ArtsWA) has designated a Certified Creative District in Anacortes. 

Initiated by the Anacortes Arts Festival, this designation affirms the thriving arts community already established in the city, said the festival’s Executive Director Meredith Mcllmoyle.

Anacortes joins communities all over the state with this designation. The Creative District program provides a platform to expand its arts and creative economies, attract entrepreneurs, educational and cultural opportunities, and ongoing economic growth.

Mcllmoyle says she is excited to see how the Creative District can help boost economic growth: “The big overarching goal is to expand the creative economy in Anacortes.”

Not only will traditional arts venues, artists and performers benefit from the district but “from an economic perspective, the boat builders and the brewers and the restaurants, they’re all a part of the creative economy,” she said.

The district itself has a defined, walkable boundary within downtown Anacortes, but the designation’s reach benefits all of Fidalgo Island, Mcllmoyle said.

With this designation, ArtsWA has developed a comprehensive program that offers grant funding options, technical assistance and training for communities and artist entrepreneurs, wayfinding signage, and more to help communities thrive. 

Initial funding will in part help to promote Anacortes as a destination for arts and culture as well as help to increase programming and access to the arts.

In the future, Mcllmoyle says the hope is to tap into arts commission grants to help fund an envisioned arts building downtown.

“The big prize for us would be building the arts and culture center,” she said.

Nonprofits such as Anacortes Arts Festival, Fidalgo DanceWorks, Anacortes Community Theatre, Anacortes Music Project, and Manieri Foundation are among the group of creative collaborators already a part of the Anacortes arts scene. The Creative District has the support of the City of Anacortes, the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce, the Port of Anacortes, the Anacortes School District, the Downtown Anacortes Alliance, Skagit Tourism, and the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County. 

EDASC CEO John Sternlicht, who worked closely on this designation with McIlmoyle both in his official capacity and as a board member of the Anacortes Arts Festival, noted the many benefits of this Creative District designation for Anacortes. “Not only does this benefit all the creative workers, businesses, and organizations in Anacortes and beyond, but it also signals that arts, culture, and creativity thrive in Anacortes, which would be important to those considering living, working, visiting or doing business here,” Sternlicht said.

“Anacortes is bursting with amazing collaborations, which creates unlimited opportunities for its community and visitors to this beautiful seaside city,” Mcllmoyle said.

To learn more, visit Anacortes Creative District.