Seattle Arts Commission letter to King County Council in favor of Access for All

Today, the Seattle Arts Commission (SAC), 16 citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council, supporting the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture released a letter to the King County Council in favor of placing Access for All on the August ballot. Commission members include artists, arts professionals and other citizens with diverse backgrounds and strong links to Seattle’s arts community.

The full letter is available here. Below is an excerpt.

The Seattle Arts Commission (SAC) promotes the cultural vitality of our region by supporting arts and culture through a lens of economic, geographic and racial equity. While our charge is limited to the City of Seattle, we are acutely aware of our role within the cultural fabric of our county and our responsibility to serve a much broader region. With that in mind, we strongly encourage you to consider placing Access for All on the August ballot for voter consideration in King County.  

Protecting the Values of Our Region 

We are faced with a challenging political climate in our nation. A stark cultural divide has called our values into question and inspired many of us to mobilize in efforts to defend the principles we hold dear. The field of arts and culture has not been immune from vulnerability and Access for All offers our region the opportunity to respond with a powerful statement of support.

The Creative Advantage 2017 Winter/Spring Learning Series

Join us for the 2017 Winter/Spring series of free Creative Advantage Art Partner trainings. Open to any interested teaching artist, community organizations, arts advocate, teacher, or arts specialist. Workshops offered at no cost to participants. Online registration required and includes three Washington State Clock hours for teachers.

Workshops in this year’s series include:

Saturday, March 4, 2017, 1 – 4 p.m. Northwest African American Museum 21st Century Training

Saturday, March 18, 2017, 1 – 4 p.m. Southside Commons Advocating for Arts and Social Justice

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 1 – 4 p.m. Youngstown Cultural Art Center Teaching and Learning with LBGTQ Youth

Saturday, May 13, 2017, 1 – 4 p.m. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute Arts and ELL

The Creative Advantage invests in artists and educators thru ongoing professional learning opportunities that deepen qualities of practice and foster community. This includes an annual Learning Series and Summer Arts Partner Institute.  Emerging to established teaching artists, teachers, administrators, and youth development workers are invited to participate in these trainings presented in partnership with Seattle Art Museum.


Photo: Robert Wade

Recap: The Creative Advantage Arts Partner Summer Institute

The Creative Advantage kicked off the 2016-17 school year with its third annual Summer Institute in partnership with Seattle Art Museum. Over 100 teaching artists, administrators, classroom teachers, and youth development workers gathered for a day of learning, community building, and practice.  Sessions were facilitated by local artists, instructors, and national partners with topics ranging from Healing Justice in Arts Education (inspired by the work of Shawn Ginwright), The Entrepreneurial Teaching Artist, to Trauma-Informed Practice.  Participants also had opportunities to creatively engage and reflect by art discipline.

The morning plenary centered the role of racial equity and social justice in curriculum and approach. This included a deeply moving poem on structural barriers within education by Carlynn Newsome the 2016 Youth Speaks Seattle grand slam champion, followed by music and a story from Shontina Vernon, a mentor teaching artist with 4Culture’s Creative Justice program. Robyne Walker Murphy, Cultural Access Program Director at Cool Culture in Brooklyn, gave a stirring keynote entitled, “Empower, Create Connect: A Framework for Liberatory Education.”

The institute put front and center the values of practitioners working for creativity and justice in education, calling for narratives that position student voice and perspective as fundamental to high quality teaching and learning.

Next up: The Creative Advantage Professional Learning Series, beginning in January 2017.  For more information, sign up here.

Photo Jenny Crooks.

EMP Museum at Garfield High School

I wanted to share with you EMP Museum’s experience at Garfield HS as a Creative Advantage provider the past two years. This story is a testimony to all of your (Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture) diligent years of work/advocacy for arts education resulting in The Creative Advantage, creating real impact for students and teachers. – Bonnie Showers, Curator, Education + Interpretive Services, Experience Music Project

EMP Museum, as a Creative Advantage provider, has had an exciting first two years at Garfield HS following our August 2014 Garfield HS All-Staff Arts in STEM  Professional Development training held at EMP and led by five of our professional teaching artists, funded by The Creative Advantage.

The result of that first Arts in STEM PD has led to excitement at Garfield about teaching through the arts in all subject areas.  As the first year of staff participants reported:  that 2014 all-staff training was the springboard, supporting development of a shared language and enthusiasm among teaching staff and administration.  They experienced multiple learning styles effectively addressed through the arts, and the enthusiastic creative learning that emerged.

In the last two years, supported by The Creative Advantage funding at Garfield, EMP has provided 22 five to 10-day arts-integrated residencies in multiple topics from geometry/paper engineering and sculpture, voice over for engineering students, graphic novel and visual narrative for language arts, wire sculpture for biology students, Theatre Skills and Performance for English language learners (ELL), video-making for Japanese language classes, to RHINO software and 3-D printing for ceramics students. Over 600 students and 10 teaching and library staff have participated in these arts integrated projects.

Teachers noted in residency evaluations higher student engagement, enthusiasm, success and increase in confidence. (We have evaluations from all participating staff and teaching artists for these projects, and a set of 2015-16 student-centered pre and post evaluations focused on tracking 21st Century skills, arts skills, and subject area target goals. 100% of participating teachers reported that their arts integrated objectives were met or significantly exceeded in all projects)

EMP has now been requested to provide a follow up Garfield HS ALL-staff PD  focused on STEM in Arts on August 30, 2016.

This training is 100% supported by Mr. Howard principal at Garfield HS. We are delighted,  as this request represents an evolution in thought: learning skills to teach through the arts is a priority.

I am so appreciative of Bonnie Hungate-Hawk, Garfield’s tireless arts team lead, with Janet Woodward, a dynamo of an arts librarian, and the team of participating teachers: 2014-15: Heather Snookal, Ian Sample, Nicolas Fell, Gwen Johnston; 2015-16: Alan Kahn, Rachel Eells, Mary Hopkins, Thomas Townsend, Janet Woodward, Michele Flett.

It has been a rich two years and we are looking forward in 2016-17 to supporting Garfield’s growth as an arts integrated rich learning environment, as one of our Outreach Partner Schools.

I would like to thank each of you for all your advocacy and support for arts learning opportunities for these students. When I saw the smiles of success and confidence on the ELL students faces last night at their Family Night performance, it was clear: The Creative Advantage has made it possible to reach these students, and these arts opportunities are making all the difference in their lives.

Best, Bonnie

Photos from ELL Family Night, theatre residencies in Mary Hopkins classes taught by Karen Harp Reed.


Seattle Finalist and Runner’s Up Announced for the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

Teen Voices from the NEA Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge featured at Northwest Folklife Festival
Saturday, May 28 from 4-4:30 p.m.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and The 5th Avenue Theatre joins the National Endowment for the Arts and Playbill Inc. with additional support from Disney Theatrical Group, in announcing a King County high school student as the finalist in the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. The winning finalist is Angel Rodriquez, 17, from Puget Sound Adventist Academy. The Runners Up are Victoria Alkin from Tesla STEM High School and Chloe Copoloff from Bellevue High School. Samantha Mueller from Eastlake High School received an honorable mention.

Music from the finalist and runner’s up will be performed in Teen Voices from the NEA Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge at this year’s Northwest Folklife Festival on Saturday, May 28 from 4 -4:30 p.m.

This summer, Angel Rodriguez and the finalists from Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and Dallas County, TX will travel to New York City where they will take part in an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to learn more about songwriting and sharpen their songwriting skills. At the end of the workshop, their original song will be performed by professional musicians and singers in a final competition with judges from the music and musical theater industry.

The national winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award, and each national runner-up will receive $2,500. Scholarships are provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation. In addition, the national winner’s song will be published by Sony/ATV.

“We at The 5th Avenue Theatre are thrilled to partner with The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) on the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for 2016,” says Bernadine C. Griffin, Managing Director of The 5th Avenue Theatre. “We are passionate about musical theater, developing new work, and providing high quality musical theater training for teens at our theater and in local high schools throughout King County. We are proud of all the students who worked so hard and submitted great, original songs to the Challenge.”

In its pilot year, the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students is only available to high school students in three metropolitan locales: in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Dallas County, Texas; and, Seattle and King County, Washington. More information on The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students can be found at Follow the conversation about the Songwriting Challenge at #IWriteSongs16.

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About the 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 Follow @SeaOfficeofArts or

About The 5th Avenue Theatre
The nonprofit 5th Avenue Theatre is acclaimed as one of the nation’s leading musical theater companies and is especially renowned for its production and development of new works. Since 2001, the Seattle-based company has produced 17 new musicals. To date, nine (including the sensational hit Disney’s Aladdin) have moved on to Broadway premieres, earning a combined 15 Tony Awards, including two for Best Musical (Hairspray and Memphis). The 5th Avenue Theatre is also known for its world class, critically acclaimed productions of musicals chosen from both the contemporary canon and the Golden Age of Broadway.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.

About Playbill, Inc.
Since its inception in 1884, PLAYBILL has become synonymous with the legitimate theatre and is an internationally known trademark and symbol of the arts. Playbill Magazine, which can be found in theatres and classical arts venues throughout the country, proudly serves every Broadway house as well as the country’s most prestigious fine arts institutions, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 2016 Playbill presses will roll out 3.5 million programs monthly for nearly 100 theatres in 24 cities. was established in 1994, and has since grown to become the leading source of theatre information on the web and has expanded to a suite of online offerings including Playbill Vault, Playbill EDU, Playbillder, and more. Visit for more information.