Langston Institute hosts LGBTQ youth of color performance

Seattle Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute invites you to “Bearing Witness,” a showcase featuring performances by LGBTQ youth of color and their friends, on Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:45 p.m.). Langston Hughes Performing Art Institute is located at 104 17th Ave. S at E Yesler Way in Seattle. Attendance is free, and the show is about 90 minutes.

For more information visit

Closing the arts access gap in the Central District

Mayor Ed Murray and Superintendent Larry Nyland pose with Kindergartners and 1st graders at Leschi Elementary School.

In the first year of implementation of The Creative Advantage arts education access initiative in the Central region, the arts access gap was closed. What does that mean? In 2011, we conducted a needs assessment around the state of arts education in Seattle Public Schools. The assessment found inconsistent access to arts education, especially for students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, students eligible for the transitional bilingual program, and students identifying as Black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native.

We launched the Creative Advantage in one area of the School District that demonstrated particularly challenging numbers, the Central District. After just one year, the Central District now shows access hours on par with the rest of the district – closing the access gap for those students. In all, nearly 1700 students attended music classes that would not have been available before the Creative Advantage roll-out. Additionally, more students in the Central District are reaching standards in the arts, and there is an increased awareness and conversation around issues of social justice, tied to this initiative.

If you’d like to read the full report, you can download it here;

We’re so proud of these wins for students, and encouraged by this demonstration of impact. It’s also a great time to announce The Creative Advantage is expanding! In addition to the 13 schools served by the Creative Advantage in the Central District, The Creative Advantage will roll-out in Southwest Seattle in 2015, serving Arbor Heights, Concord International, Highland Park, Roxhill, Sanislo, West Seattle Elementary, K-5 STEM, Denny International Middle School, Chief Sealth International High School and Middle College at High Point.

Professional development and planning is starting now, and next school year will see new programs in Southwest Seattle focused on arts access. Stay tuned for updates throughout the years.

A note from Artistic Freedom & Artistic Responsibility organizer, Kathy Hsieh

[On Monday, August 18, our Office and the Seattle Repertory Theatre, in partnership with 4Culture and the Office for Civil Rights, presented Artistic Freedom & Artistic Responsibility, a forum to address art, race and cultural representation, which attracted 350 people. You can watch a video of the event here. The following represents the thoughts of event curator, Kathy Hsieh, cultural partnerships and funding manager at the Office of Arts & Culture, following the event.]

   The forum was designed to give a glimpse at what some of the impacts are when different cultural groups are represented in ways that are stereotypical, not authentic or even completely invisible, and practical suggestions for how to be more inclusive in the work that we do. While potentially divisive, “The Mikado” controversy became an opportunity for our community to learn from one another. We wanted to create a safe space where a diversity of views could be shared, to inspire more people to get a little less uncomfortable with doing the work of dismantling racism. We chose to make the focus of the Artistic Freedom & Artistic Responsibility forum broader than just a single production because it’s the underlying politics of why the controversy happened that need to be addressed. It’s not just one show or one company or one incident that’s at issue. It’s far broader, deeper and more pervasive than that, as we can see playing out in different ways all over the country.

Huge thanks to everyone who worked to make the forum happen and for all who took the time to attend or view the live-stream video. Most importantly, we’re so thrilled at the after-response. People have been signing up for trainings, supporting events that feature greater diversity, blogging, organizing follow-up events, asking for advice, and most importantly talking with each other and via social media about next steps for creating change around how race is represented in the arts. And the thing that excites me the most? The diversity of the people who have been doing all of the above. Because sometimes people attend these things and feel that just by attending they’ve done their share. But this time, I’m seeing a demographic shift in who’s been following up – I’m seeing a lot more non-people of color wanting to know what they can do next.

So what can we do to ensure that change does happen? Take a moment to understand why. Most arts and cultural organizations want more people attending and participating in the work we do. Many would love to reach a greater diversity of people. But in order for others to want to come to us, we have to be truly welcoming and inclusive. And in order to come across that way, we have to look internally first. How do we come across to the people we want to attract? Who is reflected in the work we do, in our programming, on our staff and board, and with the artists we use? If people don’t see themselves represented, they’re not going to feel welcome.

  • Accept that it may feel uncomfortable. This work isn’t easy. And it will take time.
  • Ask and listen. It’s okay to ask for help, but be willing to listen with the goal of understanding where the other person is coming from.
  • Sign up for training. These are also great opportunities to connect with others working through similar issues.
  • Make time to talk with staff at all levels, with your board, with your artists, with your audience – to get their ideas on how to be more inclusive and why it’s important to do so.
  • Commit to making the changes necessary.

Now let’s all work together to carry this momentum forward. Here are some opportunities and resources to start doing just exactly that.

–          Kathy Hsieh

Photos by Jenny Crooks

Arts District forum in Capitol Hill

Each spring, Capitol Hill Housing hosts a public forum for the community to discuss an issue relevant to the neighborhood.  Returning May 20, the focus will be on forming an Arts District on Capitol Hill, and speakers include Seattle Arts Commission chair, Michael Seiwerath and Office of arts & Culture cultural space liaison, Matthew Richter.

Capitol Hill Housing’s 9th Annual Community Forum: Launching a Capitol Hill Arts District

Tuesday, May 20 5:30 pm

Oddfellows Building – 2nd Floor West Hall – 915 E. Pine St.


  • 5:00 Doors
  • 5:30 Vibrant and Engaged Communities: Capitol Hill Housing’s vision
  • 5:45 Arts Districts and the city of Seattle: Councilmember Nick Licata
  • 5:50 Arts District Intro:  Michael Seiwerath
  • 6:00 Successful Case Study:  Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row Arts District Phoenix, AZ
  • 6:20 Discussion: What does Capitol Hill want out of an arts district?
  • 120 second speed round featuring Matthew Richter, City of Seattle Cultural Space Liaison; Tonya Lockyer, Executive Director, Velocity Dance Center; Leslie Bain, Frameworks Cultural Placemaking; Jason Plourde, Three Dollar Bill Cinema; and others
  • 6:35 Facilitated discussion, moderated by Andy Fife
  • 7:00  Program ends, bar opens, opportunity for socializing

As a recent map and study from the city of Seattle shows, there are 28 arts spaces on Capitol Hill.  It’s a neighborhood with a long, proud tradition as an arts destination.  But real estate development pressures are increasing, and citywide five arts organizations rent for every one that owns.

Creating an arts district will bring attention to the many arts companies and venues on Capitol Hill, and will help build a case for tools to preserve them.  Building on successful arts districts in other cities, a Capitol Hill Arts District could bring shared marketing plans, pole banners and wayfinding, and developer’s tools for preserving and creating arts spaces.

We look forward to seeing you at the event!

Public Art Tours in May

In the next several weeks, we will celebrate our region’s museums and cultural institutions in conjunction with the American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Seattle. More than 55 organizations have created special programming and admission offers – you can check it out here, at In addition to special offers around the region, the Office of Arts & Culture has created a number of free tours of Seattle’s noted public art collection for the public to enjoy. We hope you will join us for a glimpse into some of the art that makes our city so special. Tours will be approximately an hour in length, and cover the following themes.

Tour of Totems, led by Office of Arts & Culture conservation tech, Tiffany Hedrick

WA State Convention Center Art Tour, led by Office of Arts & Culture curator, Deborah Paine

South Lake Union Art Tour, led by Public Art Advisory Committee member Kurt Keifer and Pablo Schugurensky, both of META ARTE

Halls of Power Art Tour, led by public art director, Ruri Yampolsky

Events range from May 16-23 – check out the website for a detailed list of all the activities you can enjoy. See you on a tour!