National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant of $100,000 awarded to Seattle Public Schools for The Creative Advantage

Grant to support The Creative Advantage, a citywide initiative to establish equitable access to arts education 

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the National Endowment for the ARTS (NEA) second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018.  Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $100,000 to Seattle Public Schools to support implementation of The Creative Advantage.

The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

The Creative Advantage is a citywide initiative to establish equitable access to arts education for every student Seattle Public Schools. It is a collective partnership between Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, The Seattle Foundation, Seattle Art Museum, Arts Corps, ArtsEd Washington, and up to 100 community-based arts organizations.

Since 2008, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and SPS have collaborated to increase high-quality arts learning in high-need schools. The Seattle K-12 Arts Plan was created to address inequities in access to art education and provide a comprehensive, sequential and predictable arts education for all students. To realize the plan, The Creative Advantage was born. It solidifies the collective impact partnership between SPS and ARTS as the “backbone” management structure with The Seattle Foundation as the fiscal agent and high leverage partners to support essential goals of the arts plan.

The Creative Advantage has completed research, planning and mission alignment to develop the Seattle K-12 Arts Plan, which includes regional and school-based planning, increased certified arts staff, 21st century arts learning that is culturally responsive, arts partnerships, professional development for arts and non-arts teachers and arts partners and a comprehensive evaluation.

The Creative Advantage has restored arts access to the Central Arts Pathway (CAP), which includes 13 schools with 6,475 students; the South-southwest Arts Pathway (SWAP), which includes 10 schools with 4,552 students; and launched in the entire Southeast Arts Region (SEAR), which includes 21 schools with 10,208 students.

What Does Freedom Look Like in the Classroom?

Written by Tina LaPadula

The past two years have been especially challenging for educators and students, as we all struggle to find space for restorative and creative learning.

This year’s Creative Advantage Professional Learning Series endeavored to address the rising tension and anxiety with goals to support reflection, healing, and community building. Supported by Regan Pro, Education and Community Programs Director from Seattle Art Museum and Lara Davis, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s Arts Education Manager, my co-facilitators Shontina Vernon, Donte Felder and I created a map for the journey we hoped to guide participants through.

We had 3 opportunities to teach the workshop together, so worked iteratively and moved components around as we honed in on the most mindful sequence of stepping stones. We discussed our own classroom struggles this year and decided to center our exploration on a series of questions.

What is culture?

The day began with a walking meditation that Shontina facilitated followed up with a writing activity she uses with incarcerated youth exploring these prompts – Who claims you? What was happening at the time you were born and at the time you were coming of age?

Participant responses featured story snippets of family and loved ones peppered with generational details ranging from scrunchy hair bands to slain civil rights leaders. We then unpacked how our worldview, artistic practice and our approach to teaching have been shaped by these formative experiences. We explored how beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors are represented in our familial, societal, institutional, and organizational cultures, and named aspects of our acculturation we inherit versus that which we actively seek to create.

Who gets to decide what is relevant?

After lunch the conversation shifted to pop culture. We considered what people in the future will say is happening now; Black Lives Matter, The Me Too Movement, ICE raids, school shootings, student protests, homelessness. Donte wondered what our students find relevant. He modeled an examination of classroom content that he’s used with his Orca K-8 students using the lyrics to Black Panther by Kendrick Lamar.

What does freedom look like in your classroom? In your practice?

My co-facilitators and I shared some critical questions we ask ourselves as a strategy to help us consistently examine the content we bring into our classrooms, check our biases, and support our students.

  • Is it anti-racist?
  • Is it intersectional?
  • What does it say relative to representation?
  • Is it complex or one-dimensional?
  • Does it promote archetypes or stereotypes?
  • What was happening historically as it relates to its origin?

Participants broke into small groups to incubate a larger list of Liberatory Questions. We inventoried our brainstorm, edited and revised it collectively. Here’s a small selection of what more than 90 teachers and teaching artists from all over the district generated:

  • Can students see themselves in this content?
  • Does it allow space for student voice (to create curriculum)?
  • How does this support my own cultural world view? (or detract from it?)
  • Is this cultural appropriation?
  • Am I willing to not be the expert?
  • Am I willing to be vulnerable? (as vulnerable as I’m asking my students to be?)
  • Am I willing to give up power? (power with, not power over)
  • Does this push assumptions?
  • Does this broaden the narrative created by the dominant culture?
  • What stereotypes does this perpetuate?
  • How will I address them if it does?
  • Does this engage + encourage joy?
  • How is this relevant to youth culture now?
  • Am I making space for students to show up in all their identities?
  • Does this support the shared goals of our community?
  • Does it reflect the diversity in the classroom?
  • Are the student’s voices in the content planning?
  • Am I asking more questions than I’m answering?
  • Am I valuing my students’ knowledge and experience?
  • Am I creating a non-hierarchical setting?
  • Is this content or exploration unveiling oppression?
  • Is this content empowering / inspiring action?
  • Does this material speak to me, but exclude others?
  • Am I bringing in this material because I want my students to think about me in a certain way, or because they will learn from it?
  • Do I understand my own authentic relationship to this content?
  • Can the students own his content, as “experts”?
  • Is this in my student’s vernacular / language?
  • Can my students see themselves as the protagonist?
  • Are they (and their experiences) centered?
  • What kind of response reaction might this inspire?
  • Is our institution ready to support us?
  • What are my real or perceived limitations, and how might I get around them?
  • Are my students ready to be liberated? Are WE?

Lara Davis: Racial Equity at the 2017 Grantmakers in the Arts 2017 Conference

This October, Grantmakers in the Arts held their annual conference in Detroit. This year’s conference not only focused on racial equity in grants making it also highlighted the city of Detroit’s legacy of activism; and vibrant arts, music, and design communities. Lara Davis, Arts Education Manager here at the Office of Arts & Culture, covered the conference, sharing her insights, observations, and love for Detroit and the city’s incredible artists.

Oct. 29: Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy

Oct: 30: Counter Narrative is the TRUTH

Oct. 31: What will you risk?

As always, Lara’s thoughtful reflections remind us where we aspire to be and the work we need to do.


Summer Arts Partnership Institute Recap

On August 17, 2017, Seattle Art Museum (SAM) hosted the fourth Creative Advantage Summer Arts Partnership Institute for classroom teachers, teaching artists, administrators, youth development workers, and community members.

Dancers from Northwest Tap Connection opened the day with a rousing performance garnering multiple standing ovations, that showcased the skill, passion, and creativity of three incredible youth performers.

Leaders from the Office of Arts & Culture, SAM, and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) contextualized the day through a lens of racial equity and social justice, which serves a foundation for The Creative Advantage, our citywide initiative that is reinvesting in equitable access to arts education for all SPS students.

Author, professor, and activist, Dr. Shawn Ginwright provided a timely and relevant keynote entitled, “Radically Healing Schools and Communities: The Power of Policy from the Heart.” Dr. Ginwright and teacher activist and organizer, Farima Pour-Khorshid, offered sessions on his Radical Healing Framework, which is based in the premise that, “Radical healing involves addressing both (1) collective healing, and also (2) transforming the institutions, policies, and systems that are causing harm in the first place.”

Local teaching artists Lauren Atkinson (visual arts) and Roberto Ascalon (poetry, creative writing) engaged participants in creative reflection workshops to unpack what it means for practitioners and administrators to be authentic, take risks, and work in community.

Thank you to those who were able to attend, and benefit from this powerful day of learning and building.  For more information on professional development opportunities, please visit the Office of Arts & Culture

Join us for the fourth annual Creative Advantage Summer Institute

Thursday, August 17, 2017; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Seattle Art Museum 1300 First Ave Seattle, WA 98101
Register This free, one-day workshop will include inspiring presentations by national thought leaders, hands-on art-making activities and opportunities to network and collaborate with peers. This year we welcome Dr. Shawn Ginwright, a founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flourish Agenda in San Francisco and an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University, as this year’s keynote speaker.  Dr. Ginwright is a leading national expert on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development.

Advanced registration required, includes lunch and eight (8) Washington State Clock Hours.

About Dr. Shawn Ginwright Dr. Ginwright is an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University. In addition, he is also a founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flourish Agenda, whose mission is to design strategies that unlock the power of healing and engage youth of color and adults in transforming their schools and communities. Flourish Agenda does this through its Radical Healing model, which builds social emotional well-being and leadership development through transformative experiences and new technology tools.

In 2011, Dr. Ginwright was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Senior Specialist award from the State Department for his outstanding research and work with urban youth. He is the author of “Hope and Healing in Urban Education: How Activists and Teachers are Reclaiming Matters of the Heart,” “Black in School- Afrocentric Reform, Black Youth and the Promise of Hip-Hop Culture,” and co-editor of “Beyond Resistance!: Youth Resistance and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America’s Youth.” In 2010, he published “Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America”.