Build Art Space Equitably (BASE)

Build ArtSpace Equitably (BASE) Certification


In 2018 the Office of Arts & Culture launched the Build ArtSpace Equitably (BASE) certification program. The enormously successful program continues, and each year identifies a new cohort of experts in fields related to cultural space - in prior cohorts there have been architects, city planners, commercial property developers, and property brokers, as well as community organizers, artists, cultural organization leaders, artists and even a suburban mayor.

The cohort is entirely People of Color, a choice intended to reverse centuries of institutionalized racism and to aim the knowledge the program provides towards the communities that have been denied access to that knowledge.

The program provides essential information, experience, and connections in service of supporting community cultural spaces. The cohort meets regularly for a year, exploring the mechanics of both cultural community organizing and of commercial property development. Experts are brought in to explain some of the more esoteric details of capital stack financing, or of floor-to-area ratio incentives. Each meeting takes place at a cultural space in Seattle, and includes a tour and a talk from the space' leadership (in the Age of COVID-19, all of these meetings happen virtually).

The BASE program is creating an army. It is creating an army of culturally savvy real estate developers and development-savvy arts and culture entrepreneurs. It is creating an army of professionals who live at the intersection of the arts and commercial real estate. It is creating an army whose purpose is to hack existing systems in both commercial real estate and arts & culture, to make those systems more equitable, more accessible, more comprehensible, and more functional.

The BASE program's goal is to build capacity in communities of color to build permanent affordable cultural spaces and to extend the "onramp" to commercial real estate development further into cultural communities. It is creating an army, and that army has taken up the fight.


The sessions for each year's cohort change to adapt to the people in the cohort, and the changing context of the world around it. The general arc of a year's worth of sessions is outlined below:

Tell me a Story

How do you tell a cultural story in a real estate context? How do you tell a real estate story to a cultural audience? Learn various storytelling techniques and apply them to hypothetical cultural space projects:

  • Graphic recording / graphic facilitation
  • Social media storytelling
  • Science fiction tropes: Writing the Other
  • Indigenous storytelling and performance

Back of the Napkin: Quick and Rough Feasibility

What are the questions that you ask, what are the tools that you use, to quickly decide if a project merits a deeper analysis?

  • Understand some back-of-the-napkin cost estimation techniques for new construction and tenant improvements (price per foot / contractors templates)
  • Understand general zoning, land use, building typology, and market analysis implications
  • Put together rough, order-of-magnitude construction and operating budgets for each group project
  • Understand what can go wrong: environmental cleanup costs, negotiation timelines, other failures

Truth to Power (Government Day)

Learn how to navigate various governmental systems

  • The inside/outside game (where are the front doors and where are the back doors to City Government?)
  • Government Funding Opportunities
  • Permitting and Permission
  • Getting to Know the Gatekeepers
  • Leveraging your Electeds

Team-Building Exercise at Work

What models exist for equitable partnerships between organizations and development partners, programming partners, and others?

  • Equitable partnership agreement examples
  • Examples of challenges
  • Conflict resolution plans
  • Scenario planning

Bring Money, Part I

What does a traditional Capital Stack look like and how do you build one? Banking, Financing, and Philanthropy

  • Traditional Bank loans
  • CDFI lending
  • Capital Philanthropy
  • Tax credits

Bring People: Community Engagement

How do cultural space projects ensure an authentic connection to the broader cultural community

  • Community Engagement tips and techniques
  • Case Studies: Wing Luke, Africatown, Cultural Space Agency
  • Synthesis and progress: how to apply the community's engagement

Bring Money, Part II

Non-Traditional Approaches to Building the Capital Stack

  • Community Wealth-Building Opportunities and Structures
  • Traditional and State-of-the-Art methods of seeking contributed support
  • Social impact investors and capped returns

Designed with You in Mind

Architecture, Engineering, and Design

  • Working with design professionals
  • Understanding principle of physical design that impact community gathering
  • Examples of spaces that "just work" for people / don't wirk for people


Community Ownership Models

  • Understand some financial models for community ownership
  • Community Land Trusts
  • Case Studies: Equinox Studios, Mercy Corps Model, CAST SF, People's Economy Lab

BASE Cohorts


Bryan Garcia
Ching-In Chen
CM Ruiz
Coté Soerens
Ebo Barton
Geneiva Arunga
Gladys Ly-Au Young
Issa Ndiaye
KeAnna Pickett
Kimnang Seng
Leslie Morishita
Mari Shibuya
Martin Tran
Monette Hearn
Mujale M. Chisebuka
Olisa Enrico-Johnson
Rana San
Ruby Holland
Stephanie Morales
Theresa Yvonne
Vincent Keele
Wanjiku Wainaina


Gavin Amos
Ebony Arunga
Jeremy Beliveau
Anthony Bridgewater
Cynthia Brothers
Catalina Cantú
Jaebadiah S. Gardner
Aramis Hamer
Marie Hayashi
Vivian Hua
Troy Intylekt
Heidi Jackson
Jasmine Mahmoud
James Miles
ChrisTiana ObeySumner
Daniel Pak
Jake Prendez
Yordanos Teferi
Karen Toering
Michael Tulee
Che Wong


Beverly Aarons
Lesley Bain
Tony Benton
Ariel Bradler
M. Angela Castañeda
Nancy Chang
Julie Chang Schulman
Cassie Chinn
Colleen Echohawk
Asmeret Habte
LaVerne C. Hall
Ben Hunter
Tom Ikeda
Sadiqua Iman
Rachael Kitagawa-Hoshide
Tim Lennon
Kyoko Matsumoto-Wright
Miye Moriguchi
Uche Okezie
Rico Quirindongo
Carol Rashawnna Williams
Yirim Seck
Steve Sneed
Robert Stephens, Jr.
S Surface
Sergio Legon-Talamoni
Roger Tang
Reese Tanimura
Patrice Thomas
Ananda Valenzuela
Mark "Silas Blak" Washington
Eugenia Woo
Tana Yasu
Bo Zhang

Arts & Culture

Gülgün Kayim, Director
Address: 303 S. Jackson Street, Top Floor, Seattle, WA , 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94748, Seattle, WA , 98124-4748
Phone: (206) 684-7171
Fax: (206) 684-7172

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The Office of Arts & Culture promotes the value of arts and culture in, and of, communities throughout Seattle. It strives to ensure that a wide range of high-quality artistic experiences are available to everyone, encourage artist-friendly arts and cultural policy.