Whidbey Island is one step closer to having its second state-certified creative district.
Last week, the Coupeville Town Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the creation of the Coupeville Creative District, one of the final steps in an application process that has been ongoing for more than a year.
Pacific Northwest Art School Executive Director Lisa Bernhardt delivered a presentation on the creative district formation to the town council during its meeting Jan. 24. Bernhardt and other town stakeholders have been actively working on the rigorous application since January 2022.
With the town’s approval secured, the next step will be to submit a letter of intent to the state, at which point Bernhardt and the other district committee members will have 90 days to complete the application.
The Pacific Northwest Art School will serve as the fiduciary body for the district. Mayor Molly Hughes will be responsible for appointing a representative for the town on the district’s governing board.
Through certification as a creative district, a specified geographic region becomes a focal point for arts-based tourism and economic growth. This designation allows the district to more easily access grants and other arts-oriented funding and promotes collaboration among various local agencies to support artists.
Bernhardt said Coupeville is uniquely qualified for designation as a creative district because of its rich history, its position within the nation’s only national historical reserve, its many cultural and artistic festivals and its high concentration of artists and crafters.
“We have it all!” she wrote in an email to the News-Times. “We look forward to creating awareness of what we have, helping our creatives thrive and offering opportunities for them to grow.”
Town council members were highly supportive of the initiative. Councilmember Jackie Henderson said the mission of the district perfectly aligns with that of the tourism committee, on which she sits.
“This is just a remarkable thing you’re all doing,” she said. “I’m really excited about it.”
Other community members also attended the meeting to voice their support for the district.
“We’re 100% behind it,” said Lynda Eccles, executive director for the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce.