The inspiring landscape, supportive community, and rich artistic history create a lure that draws artists and art enthusiasts to Edmonds. “There’s a power and a presence about being in Edmonds,” said Elizabeth Martin-Calder, interim executive director of Cascadia Art Museum.
Since its beginning, the community has supported and encouraged the arts. “If you go way back things sort of started with some of the social clubs in early Edmonds, some of which date back to the early 1900s,” said Frances White Chapin, arts and culture manager at the City of Edmonds.
For example, the Floretum Garden Club was originally established in 1922 as the Floretum Society. Other organizations that are over 50 years old include the Driftwood Players, Cascade Symphony Orchestra, and Gallery North. Forty years ago, in 1975 the Edmonds Arts Commission was established as a volunteer organization to advise the city council and mayor on arts related issues, Chapin said. It was a key support to artists working in the community already, and it continues to support them.
“There are a lot of people in this community who are engaged in many different ways in either making art or supporting arts organizations or running arts organizations,” Chapin said. “We just have a very strong base that has been strengthened by the support of the city and the support of key nonprofits like the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation.”
The Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation was established in 1979 Edmonds: The Heart of the Arts to support public art and arts education. The foundation stemmed from the Edmonds Art Festival, the second largest arts festival in Washington, which began 58 years ago in 1957 and is still held annually.
Since Chapin began working as an arts administrator in Edmonds she has seen a growth in the visibility and recognition of artists in the area. Although the community already had a reputation as being supportive of artists, it has grown into that reputation in the last eighteen years.
“Edmonds has developed a reputation as being an arts community, known for really being the heart of the arts in the Northwest,” said Denise Cole, owner of Cole Gallery. “That reputation hasn’t changed, it’s been there for many, many years and it’s well deserved.”