Racial Equity

ARTS invested deeply in organizations’ ability to move their own equity goals forward in 2016. ARTS, in partnership with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), continued to address, and increase community-wide awareness about existing inequities by offering a series of free trainings and workshops for individuals, and arts and culture organizations. Over 300 people attended the series of trainings which included national leader and speaker Carmen Morgan’s two workshops: Centering People of Color in the Racial Equity Movement with Carmen Morgan and Becoming Effective White Allies by Supporting People of Color with Carmen Morgan.

ARTS and OCR also presented White Fragility with Robin DiAngelo, Implicit Bias with Darlene Flynn, and Leading with Racial Equity for Structural Transformation with Scott Winn.

Commitment to Racial Equity

This year ARTS staff and the Seattle Arts Commission published a statement publicly affirming our commitment to racial equity and accountability to our community. We believe that arts and culture are a vehicle for radical social change, and are an effective strategy to address the pressing issues of our time. We believe that we need to center the arts in our strategy, but look beyond our field to affect change structurally–in partnership with the community, City departments, other institutions and jurisdictions–so we can help build racial equity in housing, criminal justice, education, jobs, the environment and more.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture commits to an anti-racist work practice that centers the creativity and leadership of people of color - those most impacted by structural racism - to move toward systems that benefit us all. We also acknowledge that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people.

We envision a city of people whose success, safety and health are not pre-determined by their race. A city where all artists, performers, writers and creative workers have the freedom, agency and platform to share and amplify their stories, art, cultures and experiences. At the same time, we acknowledge that our actions - both conscious and unconscious, past and present - have benefited some communities while limiting opportunities and outcomes for communities of color. We work toward our vision by addressing and working to eliminate institutional racism in our programs, policies and practices.

In alignment with the City's Race and Social Justice Initiative, we seek new solutions that use arts as a strategy to drive not only our office, but the City as a whole toward racial equity and social justice. We will continue to break barriers and build arts-integrated tools that challenge the status quo, and push us toward the inclusive society we envision.


Continuing our partnership with 4Culture and Artist Trust on ARTISTS UP in 2016, ARTS helped launch Grant LAB, an experimental program designed to remove barriers for historically under-represented artists and increase racial equity in grant making programs. Inspired by qualitative research with artists, Grant LAB aligned the grant selection process with how and why artists work and create. Each artist received $3,000 to support their artistic vision.

Grant LAB was created to test grant making ideas, approaches and practices for greater and equitable access to opportunities. Applicants were evaluated on one of three different criteria; potential or demonstrated skill, innovation/experimentation, and community engagement. This grant puts into action the goals of ARTISTS UP, a collaborative effort by 4Culture, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Artist Trust to improve and expand capacity and networks for under-supported artists in Seattle, King County and Washington State. Grant LAB funded artists working in all disciplines.

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