The Office of Arts & Culture invested $2.7 million to support more than 375 individual artists and cultural organizations in 2016 supporting more than 3,600 performances, events and exhibit days which served an audience of 1.7 million participants. Each of the eight granting programs utilizes a peer panel review and employs a race and social justice lens in the selection process.

Civic Partners

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Kylee Kitchens and PNB School students in COPPÉLIA; choreography by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

The Civic Partners program awards funding to arts and cultural and heritage organizations in all disciplines with a three-year history of serving Seattle residents and visitors. The City's investment is aimed at creating broad public access to a rich array of quality arts opportunities while promoting a healthy and diverse cultural community. ARTS is committed to ensuring that Seattle’s arts and cultural organizations reflect our community and have the tools and trainings they need to remove barriers to participation, and involve diverse cultures and underserved audiences and artists. In 2016 a racial equity assessment was included in the Civic Partners grant application in order to help organizations understand where they stood in creating a more inclusive, vibrant and sustainable cultural sector. ARTS prioritizes support for partners that value, implement and uphold inclusive practices through a racial equity lens.

Arts Means Business


The Arts Mean Business 2.0 funding program aspires to create greater equity and inclusiveness in Seattle by funding pivotal arts jobs for arts, cultural and heritage organizations that serve under-represented communities. Through the program, six Seattle arts, heritage, cultural and arts-service organizations created and hired positions that positively impact their ability to sustainably carry out their missions. Organizations include Deaf Spotlight, Densho, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, Northwest African American Museum, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and Wing Luke Asian Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

Cultural Facilities Fund

Public plaza at Plaza Roberto Maestas under construction, Photo by Shannon Armstrong

Cultural Facilities Fund is designed to support capital projects that improve Seattle’s arts spaces in significant and lasting ways. The fund’s goal is to help Seattle-based organizations build and improve their facilities in ways that will ultimately advance their missions and strengthen Seattle’s cultural scene. A total of $240,000 was distributed to fourteen organizations in 2016, providing funding ranging from $2,160 to $35,000 for projects such as SouthEast Effective Development (SEEDArts) to build and equip a professional studio which will serve as a digital communications hub for Southeast Seattle and beyond; Densho to improve the process of digitizing historical materials by replacing and upgrading failing and aging digital network wiring with high throughput (Gigabit) capacity wiring and network switches; and Freehold Theatre Lab Studio to transform the 7,000 square-foot basement space in the Freedman Building in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District into a Black Box Theater, two studios, offices, and a library.

Neighborhood & Community Arts and Put the Arts in Parks

MAP IT! (Neighborhood and Community Arts)
MAP IT! (Put the Arts in Parks)
Brazil in the park, Put the Arts in Parks; Photo by Jenny Crooks

In 2016 the Neighborhood & Community Arts program opened in conjunction with a new pilot program created in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, Put the Arts in Parks. Both grant programs support and encourage the vibrant cultural work being done in and by communities throughout Seattle.

Neighborhood & Community Arts (NCA) supported 40 neighborhood arts festivals and events in 2016. The program invested $48,000 ($1,200 per organization). The varied slate of community events includes the The Royal Room, blues festival during the Rainier Valley Heritage Festival weekend; the Pista sa Nayon, the 27th annual festival is a celebration of Filipino culture at Seward Park featuring music, dance, local artists and vendors from the community; and United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, celebrating Native-American culture through dance, music and food.

Put the Arts in Parks (PAP) funded 39 events, series, and temporary art installations, providing $199,400 in support to community-based organizations and artists producing events in City parks. All events were free and open to the public.

African Village Experience, Put the Arts in Parks; Photo by Jenny Crooks

smART Ventures

Working on Finger Painting Large Canvas; Photo by Inese Westcott

As a small awards program, smARTVentures encourages innovation and broadens participation by communities that may not qualify for other funding programs. smART Ventures provides support up to $1,000, proving that small investments can have big impacts. A few of the 2015 smART Ventures partners include Echoes of a Lifetime, in which the artist Savithri Dani interviewed members of the Wallingford Senior Center and painted their portraits; in.dig.e.nize, in which photographer Mel Ponder displayed original portraits of Indigenous people living in Seattle at the Daybreak Star Center; and Visioning Creative Resistance, in which Voices Rising created a community space for artists of color from all disciplines to dialogue about the Black Lives Matter movement.

CityArtist Projects

We Are a Crowd of Others, 2016; In collaboration with Eric John Olson & Sam Wildman; Spun polyester; Photo by Mark Woods

More than $160,000 in awards to 30 individual artists working in film production and new media, literary arts and visual installation, presented through the CityArtist Projects annual funding program, which assists Seattle artists in developing and presenting their work. The program supports new works, works-in-progress, or works taken to the next stage. This year 57% awards went to first time applicants. Awardees in 2016 include Ana Maria Campoy, who performed a bilingual staging of the award-winning play Proof, to raise awareness of mental illness and genius through a Latino cultural lens; Leslie Law wrote, produced, recorded, and broadcast a live radio theater performance episode with an original live music score and sound effects; and John Teske developed an iterative series of new compositions that are uniquely algorithmically generated and accessible on-line. Teske will lead workshops on graphic scores and improvisation with music students at Washington, Aki Kurose and Mercer Middle Schools. The compositions will be premiered by an ensemble of six musicians with strings, winds, percussion and electronics

Youth Arts

MAP IT! (WRAP)MAP IT! (Youth Arts)

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, in collaboration with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI), funded arts, cultural and community organizations providing programming that linked arts learning and work experiences for Seattle youth ages 12 to 18 years old. Learn more in the Creative Youth section.

Inspired Child, Put the Arts in Parks, Photo by Jenny Crooks
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