Poetry on Buses Road Show: Lunar New Year

Poetry works in metaphors, but we’re being literal when we tell you this: An upcoming poetry event will transport you.

If you take the First Hill Street Car from Broadway to the International District for this year’s Lunar New Year celebration on Sunday, February 11, between Noon and 1:30pm, you will be treated to a live poetry reading along the way. In concert with King County Metro’s Poetry on Buses program, which has placed more than 350 original poems on local transit like Metro buses and the street car, several Asian and American Asian local aspiring poets will read their work on the way to the annual festivities.

Late in 2016 working with 4Culture, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Metro, Sound Transit, and Seattle Streetcar, King County Metro received thousands of submissions in its “Poetry on Buses” project, soliciting poetry from King County residents. The only guidelines? The poems had to be 50-words or less and had to focus on the decidedly Pacific Northwest theme “Your Body of Water.”

On this special Sunday, several aspiring poets from the Asian and Asian American community will be reading their winning submissions on the route between Denny Way and the ID.

ARTISTS UP Grant LAB awards support vision and inspiration for 18 Washington artists

New Grant LAB program shaped by artists for artists

SEATTLE, (December 13, 2016) — Eighteen artists from Washington State were awarded funds from 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 will receive $3,000 to support their artistic vision.

“By engaging artists as allies and dismantling barriers, the Grant LAB is advocating for an inclusive future in the arts,” says Marilyn Montufar, artist and photographer. “I am honored to be a recipient of the Grant LAB, a grant that advocates for change and greater equity in the arts.”

Grant LAB is an experimental program 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. The Grant LAB funds artists working in all disciplines.

“The application process felt like I was actually being given a chance” says Kamari Bright, a writer, filmmaker and musician. “Although credentials are important, they don’t dictate the level of passion or capacity for impact my work will have.”

2016 Grant LAB funded artists:

Kamari Bright, John Bunkley, Danielle Christian, Alex Crozier, Lynn DeBeal, Rome Esmaili, Kiana Harris, Sarah León Moreno, Emma Levitt, Xavier Lopez Jr., Sara Marie Medina, Marilyn Montufar, Tamiko Nimura, Sandra Pressley, Gabriel Teodros, David Tucker, Gordon Wood, and Miriam Zmiewski-Angelova.

For more information about ARTISTS UP: https://artistsup.org/

#          #          #

Office of Arts & Culture | Seattle The Office of Arts & Culture envisions a city driven by creativity that provides the opportunity for everyone to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences. The Office is supported by the 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council. Find out more at seattle.gov/arts Follow @SeattleArts or facebook.com/SeattleArts


 As the cultural funding agency for King County, 4Culture works to make our region vibrant. Using Lodging Tax and 1% for Art funds, our team of grant-makers, cultural advocates, advisory committees, and volunteer review panelists support a diverse array of cultural endeavors. 4Culture.org

About Artist Trust

Artist Trust is a not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Since its founding in 1986, Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in Washington State artists through cash grants and professional development resources to help artists achieve their career goals. In 2016, the organization unveiled a new strategic plan and made a public commitment to racial equity.  Find out more www.artisttrust.org


“Your Body of Water”: Poetry on Buses launches 2016-2017 season theme

Poems will be accepted starting May 15

April 21, 2016 – In celebration of National Poetry Month and just in time for Earth Day, 4Culture and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture is proud to announce a brand new season of Poetry on Buses focused on the theme of water. The program has expanded to offer community sourced poetry in nine languages on a broad range of bus, rail and station venues.

Poet Planner and Theme Developed by Jourdan Keith, Poetry on Buses’ 2016 Poet Planner, the theme “Your Body of Water” is a poetic exploration of the meaning of water and its local stewardship by King County and Seattle Public Utilities.

“We are all bodies of water, connected to one another through the water web,” says Keith. “Your body of water is connected to streams, rivers, lakes, tides, waterfalls, toilets and faucets…to present homes, childhood homes and ancestral ones by memory, by the water cycle, and by stories. Come tell your story through poetry.”

Keith brings her experience as a poet, playwright, creative non-fiction writer and founding Director of Urban Wilderness Project to the program. She believes that connecting to the natural world is critical to restoring communities and has over 15 years of experience in project management as an artist, environmental educator, community organizer and social justice advocate.

Call for Poems Individuals can submit a poem online starting May 15 through September 30. Anyone who resides in King County, Washington is eligible to submit one poem up to 50 words in length on the theme of water. For more information and to submit a poem go to poetryonbuses.org.

Community Poetry Workshops Starting in May, a series of free community poetry workshops will be held to encourage the public to submit a poem. They can explore poetic traditions as well as their local and global connection to water and how it is protected and cared for by Seattle Public Utilities and King County’s Wastewater Treatment and Water and Land Resources divisions.

Community liaisons are working collaboratively with poets and Poetry on Buses staff to shape bilingual workshops tailored to the needs of Seattle and King County’s diverse communities. Workshops focused on the Chinese, Ethiopian, Punjabi, Spanish speaking, African American and Tlingit communities will be held from May through September. Everyone is welcome to attend a workshop.

Partnerships An expanded Poetry on Buses program is made possible through a partnership between 4Culture, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Sound Transit, King County Metro, King County Wastewater Treatment Division, King County Water and Land Resources Divisions, and Seattle Public Utilities. Poetry on Buses is managed by the Public Art staff at 4Culture and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture using both transit- and water-related Percent-for-Art Dollars and Equity Initiative funds allocated for the commissioning and management of art in public space. It is supported through a grant from Amazon Literary Partnership.

About Poetry on Buses Poetry on Buses began in 1992 as a partnership between 4Culture and King County Metro Transit to present poetry by local community members on buses.. It was rebooted in 2014-15 with poems and workshops in five languages, an online poetry portal (showcasing 365 poems – one new poem released every day of the year) and a focus on Metro Transit’s RapidRide.

For more information and images contact:

Christina DePaolo, 4Culture, (206) 263-1588 Erika Lindsay, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, (206) 684-4337

#          #          #


Water is the new muse for Poetry on Buses

Popular poetry program launches a region wide effort in 2016-17

SEATTLE (February 8, 2016) – After a successful reboot in 2014, Poetry on Buses is now going region-wide, sharing locally-sourced poems in at least eight languages across multiple transit systems, an online portal, and in communities across King County.

The program will be formally announced and launch to the public on Earth Day, April 22, 2016 and detailed information will be available at poetryonbuses.org. Residents will have through October 2016 to submit poems for consideration and the poetry will roll out on transit and online in April 2017, just in time for National Poetry Month.

Poetry on Buses is expanding this year thanks to funds from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) 1% for art funds. In celebration of this, residents will be invited to submit poems on the theme of water. Exploring a water-related theme has local resonance as well as universal significance; water defines our geographic landscape and impacts our health and wellbeing on a daily basis, and offers rich poetic possibilities.

A series of community poetry workshops will be held during the spring and summer months to encourage the public to submit poetry, explore the theme and multiple poetic traditions, and foster creative thinking and expression. Community liaisons and poets in Amharic, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish-speaking and Urban Native communities will create custom, bilingual workshops to reach Seattle and King County’s diverse communities.

The program is further expanding to present poems on a broader range of buses, light rail, street car and station venues. This is in thanks to a partnership between 4Culture, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Sound Transit.

About Poetry on Buses

Poetry on Buses began in 1992 as a partnership between 4Culture and King County Metro Transit to present poetry from the local community on placards found right above bus seats. It was rebooted in 2014-15 with poems and workshops in five languages, an online poetry portal (showcasing 365 poems – one new poem released every day of the year) and a focus on Metro Transit’s RapidRide.


#          #          #

Office of Arts & Culture | Seattle The Office of Arts & Culture envisions a city driven by creativity that provides the opportunity for everyone to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences. The Office is supported by the 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council. Find out more at seattle.gov/arts Follow @SeattleArts or facebook.com/SeattleArts


4Culture As the cultural funding agency for King County, 4Culture works to make our region vibrant. Using lodging tax and percent-for-art funds, 4Culture’s four main program areas—arts, heritage, historic preservation, and public art—put public resources to work in your community.


Transitions to Equity in the Arts: Recognition and First Steps

By August Denhard

Recognition of changes in the landscape comes to all of us in different ways. Mine came two years ago with the realization that my organization, the Early Music Guild of Seattle, was not recognized widely across our region, and that this was costing us grant funding. As a nonprofit arts leader, money usually gets my attention. How can an organization known the world over for its presenting and nurturing of great music not be recognized in its own community?

Maybe because it is representing and serving an increasingly smaller percentage of that community.

The shock of this realization helped me finally take notice that many people in our region have not been invited to share in the art that I hold so dear. Since then I have participated in a flurry of recent seminars exploring issues around equity in the arts, presented by the Office of Arts & Culture, the Office for Civil Rights, and ArtsFund. These seminars have been challenging.

The crux of the challenge lies not with the art, the artists, or the organizations representing people of color, but with the older, established arts organizations firmly grounded in the dominant white culture.  We operate our organizations so that everything from attendance at events to board service is mostly out of reach to outsiders. Our venues are far from neighborhoods. There are financial barriers to participation. Our default is to present the art we have always presented. Because we don’t often question ourselves on equity issues and because we’re rarely questioned from the outside, we tend to drift continually back to the familiar. Our organizations are living in an increasingly lonely place, mostly isolated from those with the energy and creativity that could carry our missions into the next century.

I was compelled to consider new programming that would explore how early music could speak to audiences outside of our established formal concert framework.

Working first as a performing musician outside my capacity as Executive Director of Early Music Guild, I found very receptive artists with whom I collaborated to develop two cross-cultural projects, creating original repertory to serve new audiences.  De México al Mediterraneo scheduled for performances in October, 2015, was funded this year by 4Culture to explore the European and African roots of Mexican folk music.  The Silk Road: Trade and the Currency of Music gave performances this past May. Funded by ARTS in 2015 and 4Culture in 2016, Silk Road imagines a musical journey from Japan, through the Middle East, to Medieval Europe. These projects include resources for teachers, classroom visits, and free community programs/performances. They have been well received by new audiences, and have engendered lively, ongoing musical partnerships between myself and Abel Rocha (voice and guitars), Antonio Gómez (world percussion and educator), Műnir Nurettin Beken (oud), and Tomoko Sugawara (kugo harp).

Putting on my Early Music Guild Executive Director hat, I went in search of organizational partners in the region to try similar programs on a larger scale, and two projects emerged. The first, Pasión en el siglo XVII: De Europa al Nuevo Mundo (September 15, 2014), brought advanced voice students from Mexico to the Northwest to present concerts in Seattle and Yakima in celebration of Mexican Independence Day.  Many partner organizations came on board to offer good advice, in kind help, and financial support, including the Mexican Consulate in Seattle, La Sala Latino-Latina Artists’ Network, Viva la Musica Club, The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, and Arts Washington. The ensemble performed in a school, a community center, on radio, and for a gala performance hosted by the Mexican Consulate.

The second project took place on November 24, 2014 at the height of the Ebola crisis, Ebola Relief: A Musical Response.  Partnering with Transcontinental Christian Ministries (a Liberian church based in Kent), Early Music Guild presented a concert of Medieval European music inspired by the plague, highlighting the universal human response to a tragedy such as Ebola.  Other partners included Town Hall Seattle, the King County Department of Public Health, King FM, and many other local arts organizations and media. The concert raised $2,000 to benefit The Hope Project and Doctors Without Borders.

My experience with both the personal and organizational projects has been the same: individual artists and community organizations are ready to collaborate and are excited to participate in the creation of new works that will involve their communities. Public funders are ready to step in to help make new partnerships financially viable.

If this is so easy, then what is keeping us from institutionalizing these partnerships and presenting truly universal arts experiences for everyone? As I discuss these questions and realities with artists, board members, and staff, there is a consensus that we have begun to recognize our isolation and we see the great potential at hand, but don’t know how to start the process of change from within. A good place for ideas and inspiration are the programs on equity in the arts offered by the Office of Arts & Culture and its partners. They’re doing the heavy lifting on this issue on our behalf.  And if you’re an arts leader or board member, take an artist to lunch. Their eyes are already open.

August Denhard has been the Executive Director of the Early Music Guild of Seattle since 2000 and is a recognized performer on the lute family instruments.

Image caption: Pasión en el siglo XVII: De Europa al Nuevo Mundo  image courtesy Garfield High School. Ebola Relief: A Musical Response by Tino Tran at EMG’s