City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools announce successes in collaboration to close access gap in arts education

The City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools today announced the first year results of their Creative Advantage arts education initiative. The program succeeded in closing the access gap in arts education for students in the initial roll out area of the Central District. For 2015, the program will expand to include ten more schools in the district.

The Creative Advantage is a unique public-private partnership between the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and The Seattle Foundation. It is reinvesting in Seattle’s students and our community’s economic and creative future by addressing inequities in access to the arts and restoring arts education to all Seattle classrooms.

Arts are considered a core academic subject by the state of Washington and are included in the current SPS Strategic Plan. In alignment with these state and district policies, the goal of the Creative Advantage is to address the systemic barriers to student access to arts and ensure that every student has arts integrated into their education, starting in kindergarten. The long term goal is that by 2020, all Seattle students will have access to a continuum of arts learning opportunities.

“We must invest in our students’ ability to problem solve, collaborate, think outside of the box and persevere,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “These are exactly the kinds of skills that are developed through arts education. Our partnership is helping to close the opportunity gap in the arts.”

“We know students learn best when their education engages their heads, their hearts and their hands,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools superintendent. “The Creative Advantage is a shining example of the district, the City and the community collaborating to give all students access to a well-rounded education.”

In March 2013, the Creative Advantage began implementation in the Central Arts Pathway, all schools that feed into and out of Washington Middle School.

Highlights from the Creative Advantage Year One Evaluation report include:

  • In 2013-14, the minutes of arts instruction in the Central Arts Pathway elementary schools increased from 2012-13 levels, and now reflects similar levels to the rest of SPS.
  • Similarly, students meeting standard in the arts significantly improved in Central Arts Pathway elementary schools.
  • During 2013-14, 1,659 elementary students attended music classes that would not have been available without the Creative Advantage roll-out.
  • Among stakeholders, there is a sense that arts learning has become a priority, not only for the district, but for the city and the community at large.
  • Stakeholders report that there is a conversation occurring around issues of social justice as a benefit of the arts initiative
  • Building on this year’s success, next year, every K-5 student in the Central Arts Pathway will have music class.

In 2015, SPS and ARTS will roll-out the Creative Advantage to one new K-12 Arts Pathway, the 10 schools in south-southwest Seattle: Arbor Heights, Concord International, Highland Park, Roxhill, Sanislo, West Seattle, and K-5 STEM, Denny International Middle School, Chief Sealth International High School and Middle College at High Point.

The program expands into two additional pathways in 2015-2016.

The City has prioritized this program through new staff capacity and an investment of $450,000 in the program to date, with plans for an additional investment of $525,000 over the next two years.

The School District has invested $600,000 in increased staffing, supplies and professional development, while the Seattle Foundation has created capacity in private fundraising that raised $200,000 from foundations and individuals to date.

For more information on the report click here:

The Creative Advantage can be found online at, at and on twitter @SeattleArtsEd.