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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.
Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.
Neighborhood Crime Forum
Live Theatre Week
Neighborhood Crime Forum
Tuesday evening, April 26th, the City Council will be hosting a Citywide Neighborhood Crime Summit and Public Hearing in the City Hall Council Chambers (600 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle).
As Chair of the Council’s Committee with oversight on Public Safety, I wanted to hold this summit as an opportunity for citizens from all five of our Precincts to learn more on how our Police Department deploys our officers and to also share their experiences on how to make our communities safer.
The summit’s agenda consists of the following:
- Five brief presentations representing each city precinct, highlighting crime statistics, staffing levels, and methods each precinct captain uses to make police deployment decisions
- Audience members from each precinct will discuss a number of questions put forward about crime and possible solutions
- Four members selected from each precinct will address the meeting through a public hearing to share their experiences and thoughts on how Seattle can become a safer community.
I hope that the summit will address these public safety issues in a way that considers how we can increase law enforcement visibility as well as employing effective strategies for addressing the problem of how to deal with repeat offenders.
The preliminary findings of research that I had requested and coordinated on how many officers are actually patrolling our streets will be released at the summit. After reviewing this data I think that it is clear that the City could use more police officers on patrol. I am pleased that Mayor Nickels has proposed adding 25 new police officers. And we should consider the need for more as well.
However, we cannot simply add new police officers and assume that crime will go down. We must have effective long term strategies to make our communities safer. From riding along with police officers and talking to others, I have heard more than once that to effectively fight street crime and disturbances, we must provide services for drug and alcohol abusers.
I believe we must break down that revolving door which recycles offenders from the streets to jail and then back to the streets. I’ve personally seen that many of these people are addicts and/or mentally ill. They need some place to go to begin to develop a sense of responsibility to themselves and to the community they live in, otherwise they will endlessly be walking the pavement, dealing drugs, committing petty theft and/or sleeping in alleys or doorways. Ê
I hope we can begin to explore expanding the definition of public safety in a way that combines law enforcement with social services. Otherwise, we will be relying just on our police force and our legal system to correct a societal problem that goes beyond their resources. I believe we should consider employing medical treatment, mental health counseling, and providing affordable housing and employment opportunities as strategies to complement our law enforcement in not only keeping offenders off the street but also getting them on the road to a normal life.
For more information visit: http://www.seattle.gov/council/hearings_forums/0426CrimeForum.pdf
Watch Council in action on Seattle Channel 21 and visit the Council Website at www.cityofseattle.net/council Also, you can watch City Council meetings and Public Hearings live on the web at www.cityofseattle.net/council-live.htm
Live Theatre Week
Today the Full Council unanimously passed Resolution 30765 which established one week each year in April to be known and celebrated as “Live Theatre Week” in Seattle. This year, it will run from April 26th through May 2nd. The intent is to showcase a diverse range of programming, promote and increase live theater attendance, generate excitement, and demonstrate the political relevance of live theatre.
Participating theaters will offer incentives during Live Theatre Week for the public to attend plays and readings, such as pay-what-you-can admission, special meet-the-artist events, and behind the scenes tours. Scheduled events are posted at SeattlePerforms.com.
Live Theatre Week coincides with “Take Part In Art”, a public awareness campaign conducted this Spring by the Arts Coalition, with support from the Seattle Foundation, encouraging citizens to partake in the vibrant arts sector that exists in Seattle.
I wrote and sponsored this resolution, to remind people that, beyond being proud of Seattle’s theater scene, we all benefit in the long run from participating in it. I encourage Seattle citizens to attend theater performances, to buy tickets as gifts, and to commit to making Seattle’s live theater a more significant part of their lives.
In addition to theater being an important contributor to Seattle’s quality of life, ÊArtsFund, a major regional arts funder, determined that the arts had a $1 billion impact on Washington state’s economy in 2003. ArtsFund’s Economic Impact Study of Arts and Cultural Organizations for that year reports that live theatre in King County attracted the highest number of patrons of any other arts or cultural category surveyed – 2,286,429 – while generating $77,800,000 in spending.
Yet, financial challenges remain. The Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national association of not-for-profit professional theaters, told a Seattle audience recently that in 2000, 71 percent of the nation’s theaters ended their fiscal years with a surplus enjoying the second widest participation among all art forms, next to museums. But, by 2003, 59 percent finished their fiscal years with a deficit, even though audience participation had not diminished. That represents a nationwide shift from three-quarters in the black to two- thirds in the red occurred within a three-year span.
In the same short period, TCG reports that ticket revenue dropped as a percentage of all income, public funding was cut in half, foundation funding fell off with the stock market, and 43 percent fewer corporations funded theater.
Reflecting these statistics, two of Seattle’s longest-lived and beloved theaters, The Empty Space and ACT, came close to closing in the past two years. Yet, when the public learned of their plights, each theater was able to rally support and continue.
I don’t believe those problems arose because people don’t value theater. I think people simply need to be reminded every so often. Live Theatre Week is the Council’s way of saying to both our stage theatres and to the public that theater is worth remembering.