Thursday, March 23, 2023

Creative District Program looks to enhance local creative sectors

Staff Writer | March 13, 2023 2:17 PM

COLUMBIA BASIN – The Columbia Basin is full of art, whether it’s artists or art itself, it seems to be abundant for all to participate in or enjoy.

“I think a lot of us have that artistic impulse,” said Dollie Boyd, Moses Lake Museum and Art Center Superintendent. “You know they might call themselves crafters – just because they’re not academy-trained artists doesn’t mean they don’t have something to contribute.”

To embrace and encourage the arts, two Columbia Basin cities are working with the Washington State Arts Commission through the Creative Districts Program.

A certified Creative District is a defined area of a community for people to gather and enjoy the arts — a focal point, information by the Washington State Arts Commission states. A creative district’s purpose is to help communities strengthen their creative sector, diversify their economy and enhance quality of life.

Moses Lake, which has already been certified for about a year, has a somewhat large creative district boundary that stretches from the Moses Lake Public Library and the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center at the northeast to McCosh Park at the southwest end, Third Ave to the north and the Japanese Peace Garden to the south.

Boyd, who was a major contributor in Moses Lake becoming certified, said their strategic plan includes encouraging public art, increasing expressions of diversity and supporting the authenticity of the community’s identity.

One of their main goals is to bring back and maintain the summer concert series, Boyd said, and they will also be supporting other events and organizations that support their goals and objectives such as the UMANI Festival, a celebration of cultures from Las Americas.

“To support the creative economy – that kind of underlies everything,” Boyd said. “The creative economy has a lot to contribute to the quality of life in town.”

Boyd said part of Moses Lake’s unique character is its resilience.

“It’s a young town and it's got this energy – this kind of can-do energy – there’s been many times where we could have just dried up and blown away,” said Boyd. “When the air base left, the great depression, there have been many times when Moses Lake could’ve ceased to exist and this town just does not give up and I really appreciate that and I hope that our creative district can just enhance the quality of life for everybody around here.”

Soap Lake is the other Grant County city looking to embrace their artistic side with the creative district program. Soap Lake however is still in the early stages of working to get certified. They have held an informational meeting, taken a community survey to assess the interest in the town and had their first meeting of interested individuals to start the process of gathering the needed information and plans to submit a formal application to the program.

“I care about the community so much because it’s just what we do,” said Kayleen Bryson, a City of Soap Lake City Councilmember and Soap Lake Economic Development Council Member who is actively involved in trying to bring the Creative District program to Soap Lake. “That’s why I moved here, I love it, so I want to find a way to make it better.”

A local nonprofit, Friends of the Lower Grand Coulee, has stepped up to be the administration for the Soap Lake Creative District until the program is able to operate on its own because the program requires an administrator with an annual operating budget of at least $20,000.

While a small community, Soap Lake had about two dozen community members show up to the most recent meeting wanting to know more about the district and how they can get involved. Their next meeting is scheduled for April 13.

Moving forward, Soap Lake has to decide the district boundary and its goals and formally apply to be a certified district in the program, among other things.

Through a partnership of the FLGC and the SLEDC, along with strong community support, bringing the district to Soap Lake isn’t a matter of “if” so much as “when.”

“I’m really excited for Soap Lake and when they get their certification, not if but when, we’ll be sister districts so there’s some great potential there,” said Boyd.

Rebecca Pettingill may be reached at

Questions? Want to help?

Soap Lake:

Moses Lake: ro 509-764-3823



The first informational meeting for the Soap Lake Creative District was well attended, and has continued to garner support which makes the question not if but when the district will be certified with the Creative District Program through the Washington State Arts Commission, Dollie Boyd said.

Recent Headlines