Celebrating Black History Month in Seattle

February marks the beginning of Black History Month, but residents of Seattle are able to celebrate and learn about the rich cultural history of Blacks and African-Americans all year long. In honor of Black History Month we have compiled a few events to mark on your calendar in February and throughout the year.

Northwest African American Museum
Black Quarterly – Gentrification
February 4, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
The Black Quarterly brings people together to break bread and delve deeper into a world of topics. February’s conversation topic: Changing Neighborhoods, Displacement, Personal & Cultural Ownership of Community.  Hosted by Inye Wokoma.

With the fluidity of a dinner table conversation, the Black Quarterly takes socially pertinent topics and creates a space for deeper and honest discussion about the dreams and challenges we face as a society. While the table is set for a limited number of guests, the goal is for the fruits of the conversation to ripple into the community as participants learn from each other’s diverse perspectives. The conversation, whenever possible, will also extend directly into the greater community through social media. 

Dialogues in Art: Exhibitions on Racial Injustice
Sign of the Times
Seattle Presents Gallery opening
Thursday, February 4, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
In Sign of The Times Johnson reveals statistics and data that counter the negative media representations of African-Americans. The exhibition will feature artistic representations of data that illustrate the increase of graduation rates of African-Americans from the 60’s; and the increase of marriage in straight and LGBTQ Black homes. Sign of the Times not only demonstrates the power of data and how it is shared but pairs with Black History Month by having a black artist actively re-write history.

Dialogues in Art: Exhibitions on Racial Injustice is a yearlong series of exhibitions that explore artists’ and curators’ interpretations of racial injustice and systemic racism impacting Black and African-American people throughout America. 

Museum of History and Industry
Black History Month Celebration
Saturday, February 13, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Get immersed in Seattle Hip-Hop culture and history through special film screenings, performances, and photography. Participate in a community panel discussion continuing the Town Hall Seattle conversation on the role of Black Lives Matter and the civil rights movement in Hip-Hop.

ARTS Presents: Lunch + Learn
Celebrating Black History Month
Friday, February 19, 12 – 1 p.m.

Please join us for a special Lunch + Learn, celebrating Black History Month. Artists Barbara Earl Thomas, Aramis Hamer and C. Davida Ingram will present their work and Ingram will moderate a conversation about how their artwork reflects their cultural heritage. Please bring your lunch; beverages and food for thought will be provided.

Northwest African American Museum
Complex Exchange – Tradition & Innovation
February 24, 7 – 9 p.m.
A Program Partnership with Seattle Art Museum
Complex Exchange pairs Seattle community members from varying disciplines in a series of conversations related to issues of race, power, and politics of representation.

Artists, technologists, activists, writers, and community builders tackle themes inspired by the exhibitions Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic—on view at the Seattle Art Museum, and The Harmon and Harriet Kelly Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper—on view at NAAM.

EMP Museum
Through the Eyes of Art
Sky Church at EMP Museum
Friday, February 26, 7 – 11 p.m.
$15 ($10 EMP members) All ages.
Presented by EMP Museum and Brandkings, Through the Eyes of Art is the city’s premier Black History Month celebration. Now in its third year, the event will take an artistic look at the topic of Black Love featuring live performances from Draze and others, presentation of the Servant of the People Award honoring gospel singer Pat Wright and Gregg Alex (Matt Talbot Center), and an art show from some of Seattle’s top painters and photographers. Visit Black History Month at EMP to learn about other events.

2016 Black Music Summit
Saturday, February 27, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The 2016 Black Music Summit will bring together music stakeholders including musicians, artists, technologists, promoters, venues, media, educators, community organizers and others to discuss the music industry, innovation and future of Black music in the Central Area, Seattle and beyond.  The theme of the event will be innovation and explore the future of Black music at the intersection of art, technology and business. Tickets are available at http://blackmusicsummit.com/

Celebrate Black culture anytime:

STG Presents: Re:definition Gallery, Curated by Jonathan Moore & Tariqa Waters, Featuring works by Ari Glass & Aramis Hamer
The Paramount Theatre
911 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101
Re:definition aims to redefine historic cultural space in the form of an art gallery for local visual artists, with rotating exhibits occurring throughout the year. Current exhibit on display through May 31, 2016.

As a society, we prescribe definitions to our spaces and faces, in an effort to put the world around us into context. Via participation with a significant number of arts managers in our area, Seattle Theatre Group has gained an increased sensitivity to how definitions can be limiting, outdated and in many cases, hurtful. To expand the conversation on the importance of space and how it can be illuminating, STG will be showcasing three visual art exhibits featuring Black artists and their work.

Spectrum Dance Theater
201516 Season #RACEish
An exploration of America’s 240 years of (failed) race relations. #RACEish is a series of productions that boldly disrupt the current conversation around race – a conversation that has become tinny, familiar, insular, limited, narrowed by political correctness, self-censored, afraid to offend and peopled by people that think alike.

Intiman Theater Summer Festival
July 2016
Award-winning director and University of Washington School of Drama professor Valerie Curtis-Newton will serve as co-curator of the 2016 Intiman Theatre Festival, which will be devoted to great American playwrights who are also inter-generational black female writers.

ARTS welcomes Kristi Woo!

Kristi serves as ARTS’ Youth Funding Project Manager and has a passion for cultural preservation, youth empowerment and community advocacy. Kristi is a former Arts Education Manager of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and Education Manager for the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Her innovation in bridge-building amongst schools, families and artists along with advocacy in underserved communities around arts education is well respected. She has worked and volunteered with pluralistic communities in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, Chinatown International District and Central Area neighborhoods for more than 20 years.


Royal Alley-Barnes Day, January 22, 2016

On Friday, January 22 Mayor Murray proclaimed it to be Royal Alley-Barnes Day, in honor of her service and dedication to Seattle’s artistic landscape. Barnes retired from the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in December 2015.

Royal’s impactful work in connecting communities around public sector government and the arts spans over 35 years. She joined the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in 2009. Royal, has lectured, taught and presented in the fields of visual arts, art history, art education, pluralistic community building and public infrastructures. She is a 2008 recipient of the prestigious University of Washington Charles E. Odegaard Award for Outstanding Achievement, a 2009 city of Seattle Youth Commission Policy Leader, and received the 2010 John C. Little Spirit Award and 2012 Ford Motor Company National “Freedom Sister” Award. A requested speaker and International, artist Royal holds a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master Arts Teaching from the University of Washington.

Mayor, City of Seattle
January 22, 2016

Royal Alley-Barnes has connected communities around public sector government and the arts for her entire career; and

Royal Alley-Barnes has fulfilled an array of leadership roles for the City of Seattle, from the City Budget Office to the Parks and Recreation Department to the Office of Arts & Culture over her 35 year tenure; and

Royal Alley-Barnes has served as the executive director of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, including overseeing a multi-million dollar remodel, since 2009; and

Royal Alley-Barnes has cultivated the Central Area’s artistic heritage of culture from the African diaspora, with a focus on underserved populations; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Ed Murray, Mayor of the City of Seattle, do hereby declare January 22, 2016 as

Royal Alley-Barnes Day

In Seattle, and I invite Seattle’s residents and visitors to join me in celebrating Royal Alley-Barnes and her contributions to Seattle’s artistic landscape.

Introducing our digital Report to the Community!

I’m thrilled to introduce our 2014 Report to the Community – in an all-new digital format. While I’m a little abashed about publishing a 2014 report when we’re three-quarters of the way through 2015 already, I think this one was worth the wait.

The Office of Arts & Culture has been publishing a paper Report to the Community for decades – this document is a wonderful resource to look back and see how the Office has progressed. However, every year we struggle with representing the work we do and not boiling it down to long laundry lists. As our society reveres pictures, emoji and memes over long blocks of narrative, I start to wonder who reads the annual reports we distribute (last year’s was 40 pages long!). Are they a useful tool to share the work we do, or are they just a lot of work?

As I was pondering this year’s report, we were in discussions with a local company, Community Attributes, about mapping our cultural space – and I realized that maps would be a valuable counterpart to lists. I got more and more excited about mapping the deeper we got into the project. As a city that is contemplating how we expend our resources and who benefits from those investments, what better tool to visualize exactly where dollars are directed than a map?

And thus this year’s digital 2014 Report to the Community was born. In here, you’ll find maps of all our public art and activations, where all grant dollars were directed, a prototype for the cultural space mapping that launched this project. Please click around, check it out and tell us what you think.


This version is our first foray into the digital report world. I’m really proud of this piece, and I’m already plotting how to make it better and more useful next year. Which is just a couple months away….


Calandra Childers, Deputy Director, Office of Arts & Culture

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and Seattle Parks and Recreation present Snow White and the Seven: ‘Each One, Teach One’ a Teen Summer Musical extravaganza

Aug. 20 – 23, 2015, Seattle Repertory Theatre

Teens rehearse for the Teen Summer Musical.

The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) and Seattle Parks and Recreation present the Teen Summer Musical (TSM) extravaganza, Snow White and the Seven: “Each One, Teach One,” featuring 80 youth ranging from 7-18 years old, Aug. 20 -23 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre (155 Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98109). Tickets are $8 for youth (12 and under) and $10 for adults.

Seattle Parks and Recreations’ Citywide Teen/Young Adult Programs is committed to impacting the life trajectories of the young people it serves by enhancing the experience they have with recreation programs and related opportunities. Each teen between the ages of 13-18 years old participating in the Teen Summer Musical will receive a stipend of $599 from Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Youth Career Training Program (YCTP) under its Artist-in-Residence training program. Youth will have assigned roles in music, dance, choreography and group ensembles.

All participating youth auditioned for their roles in the musical.

The vision of Seattle Parks and Recreation Citywide Teen/Young Adult Programs is to develop empowered, self-determined young adults who manage their life course successfully. It is through broad recreation based programs that we enhance community development and promote organizations like LHPAI, that enable youth to move along pathways into adulthood by providing the appropriate access and opportunities to participate in programs that increase their information about life options.

Please note: the 7 p.m. show on Sunday, Aug. 23, has been canceled. For a listing of all shows and times, please visit http://www.langstoninstitute.org/performance/2015-lhpai-teen-summer-musical-snow-white-and-the-seven-each-one-teach-one/2015-08-20/. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the LHPAI box office or online at Brown Paper Tickets: http://snowwhite7.brownpapertickets.com/.