Arts Commission

The Bellingham Arts Commission serves as advisors and advocates for the enhancement and integration of the arts in the community and typically meets on the first Tuesday of each month.

Meetings can be attended either in-person at City Hall (210 Lottie Street), or virtually via Zoom Webinar. If attending via Zoom, attendees are required to register prior to joining the meeting. Once registered, an email with pertinent meeting information will be sent to you.

Visit to view meeting agendas and supporting materials, which are posted approximately one week prior to the meeting date. If you are interested in meetings held prior to April, 2023 – visit the Arts Commission Meeting Materials webpage.

To enhance opportunities for an enriched and diverse cultural experience for the entire community.

  • Raise public awareness of the need to integrate aesthetic aspects of design into the cityscape.
  • Establish and maintain communication systems within the arts community so that activities can be identified and coordinated among public and private agencies, organizations, and individuals concerned with the arts.
  • Develop a broad base of financial support for local arts and artists through public agencies and private donations and through a “percentage and/or a per capita for the arts” program.
  • Develop strong relationships with the City of Bellingham, including the Mayor, Council members and City departmental representatives, serving as consultative resource on matters of aesthetic and artistic importance.
  • Contribute to the economic vitality of the community by working with Planning and Community Development, the Tourism commission, The Port of Bellingham and other agencies, businesses and organizations to integrate arts into the downtown / waterfront areas and all public projects throughout the City.
  • Advise the City on art acquisitions, historic landmarks, and citywide art issues.

The following procedures shall be utilized for both citizen and City-initiated projects. Citizen-initiated projects shall be presented by Planning and Community Development (PCDD) staff.  City projects shall be presented by a City staff representative from the initiating department.

Staff Review: Prior to review by the BAC, staff shall review the proposal and insure the proposal is compliant with applicable codes and regulations.

Preliminary Design Review: Unless waived by the BAC, all projects shall be presented to the BAC for conceptual review prior to final design.  Waiver requests shall be submitted to the PCDD staff.  A notice requesting an item to be placed on the agenda for the next meeting shall be submitted to the PCDD no later than 10 days prior to the meeting date.  The project proponent may request additional preliminary reviews prior to final approval.  Materials to be submitted shall include:

  1. BAC agenda request form;
  2. Conceptual drawings or photos;
  3. Site plan showing the proposed location of the project; and
  4. Any additional information the project proponent believes will aid the BAC in their review and recommendation.

The BAC will send the project proponent a written response to the preliminary design within 15 days following the meeting, including notation of additional information needed for final design approval.

Final Design Approval: A meeting shall be requested by the initiating department or individual at such time as sufficient design and/or detailed information is available for the BAC to make an informed recommendation of approval.  Materials to be submitted shall include:

  1. BAC agenda request form;
  2. Final drawings, including a site plan showing the location of the project;
  3. Any additional information that was requested by the BAC during the preliminary design review;
  4. Verification of reviewed by other Boards or Commissions which have jurisdiction; and
  5. Any additional information the project proponent believes will aid the BAC in their review and final recommendation.

The Mayor will send the project proponent a final letter approving or denying the project within 15 days following the meeting.

Meetings are typically held the first Tuesday of each month in the Mayor’s Board Room at City Hall. Meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. and last approximately one to two and one half hours. Time spent outside of meetings may be as much as five hours a week depending on involvement in the Commission.

The Commission consists of up to seven qualified members, which shall be selected so as to represent as many as possible of the following arts and professions: sculpture, architecture, landscape architecture, curation and other art-related professions; as well as lay members who have experience in the artistic and cultural development of the city. 

Appointments are limited to two consecutive, four-year terms, and no compensation is paid to members of this Commission. Members must be a resident of Whatcom County for at least one year previous to their appointment, and must currently live in, or work in, or manage a business within the city limits of Bellingham. No City official or employee can be a member of the Arts Commission nor may any citizen having a conflict of interest.

Current Boards & Commission Vacancy List (PDF)

Main Office
Bellingham Arts Commission
Planning & Community Development Department
210 Lottie Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

Phone: (360) 778-8300