Nominations now open for the 16th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards!!!!!

Open now through June 15, 2018

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s (ARTS) Mayor’s Arts Awards celebrates the people and organizations that broaden our horizons and humanize our city and our world.

Based on feedback from last year’s awards we are eliminating categories and are instead asking you to nominate a person or an organization who you think should be recognized and celebrated. Nominations will be evaluated by a panel comprised of Seattle Arts Commissioners and previous award recipients. Four awardees will be recognized from the pool of nominations. The panel will evaluate nominees based on the following aspirations below:

A Mayor’s Arts Award Nominee should ideally embody one or more of the qualities below:

  • A person (all ages and backgrounds) or an organization
  • Furthering for racial equity and social justice
  • Exemplifies artistic excellence
  • A leader in the field
  • Emerging artistic voice
  • Cultural Icon
  • Innovation incubator
  • Fights for arts in education justice

Vivian Phillips, chair, Seattle Arts Commission speaks at the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture 15th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards at the Mural Amphitheatre at Seattle Center on August 31, 2017.
Photo by Marcus R. Donner

2018 marks the 16th year ARTS has asked the community to nominate the people and organizations that represent our city (past and present), our environment and our aspirations. You tell us who should be recognized for their work in community, in education, in the arts landscape and in living out our hopes for a more just and racially equitable society?

Recipients for the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Awards will be announced in July and celebrated on Thursday, August 30 at the Mayor’s Arts Awards Ceremony at Seattle Center.

Terri Hiroshima steps up as new Seattle Arts Commission chair

The Seattle Arts Commission and the Office of Arts & Culture are excited to welcome Terri Hiroshima as the new chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. Hiroshima will take over from Vivian Phillips, who was chair from 2015-17. The Seattle Arts Commission is an advocacy and advisory body for the City of Seattle.

Terri Hiroshima at the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture 15th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards reception at Chihuly Garden & Glass at Seattle Center on August 31, 2017.
Photo by Marcus R. Donner

“It’s an exciting time to chair the commission as we work to increase awareness of the value and role that the arts has in creating vitality and sustainability in Seattle,” says Terri Hiroshima, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, UW. “Seattle Arts Commission work has never been more important now that the arts have become an essential tool for helping to address the challenges of a growing city — be it housing, work space, education, community building — and the equity issues that are tied to them. Vivian’s skillful leadership is one for the records and I hope to serve by strengthening what is now fully put in motion.”

Hiroshima was recently featured in a piece on KUOW, “I’m not the submissive Asian woman you think I am” and has been on the Seattle Arts Commission since 2012.

She is a Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Washington, and was formerly Vice President of Communications at Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Hiroshima has served and worked in Seattle’s non-profit sector for more than 20 years, holding executive and marketing leadership positions at Crosscut Public Media, Seattle Theatre Group, Empty Space Theatre, and One Reel. She currently serves on the Langston board and the Pratt Fine Arts Center board; in the past she has served on the boards of Shunpike and Degenerate Art Ensemble. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations from Boston University, and completed Seattle’s Leadership Tomorrow program in 2009.


Finalists announced for 2017 Mayor’s Arts Awards

Recipients will be presented at the Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony
on Thursday, August 31 at 4 p.m.

Twelve finalists have been selected for the 2017 Mayor’s Arts Awards as part of the 15th anniversary of the award ceremony. Finalists were selected from a public nomination process and the recipients will be presented at the award ceremony on Thursday, August 31 at 4 p.m. at Seattle Center, as a kick-off to Bumbershoot weekend. The Mayor’s Arts Awards recognize the contributions of artists, creative industries and cultural organizations who contribute to Seattle’s reputation as a hub of creativity and innovation.

The 2017 finalists are:

  • Cultural Ambassador – Individual: Sharon Arnold, Ludovic Morlot and Assunta Ng
  • Cultural Ambassador – Organization: Gay City, Seattle Music Partners, and Tasveer
  • Arts & Innovation: Susie Lee, NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth), and Courtney Sheehan
  • Emerging Leader in the Field: Legendary Children, Leilani Lewis, and The Station

The recipients will be announced at the Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony, on Thursday, August 31 at 4 p.m. at Seattle Center at the Mural Amphitheatre. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Presented in partnership with Bumbershoot, the awards ceremony is part of the official opening of Bumbershoot 2017. For 47 years, Bumbershoot has served as Seattle’s annual end-of-summer party — a celebration of music, art and creativity held beneath the iconic Space Needle in Seattle.

In honor of the 15th anniversary of the award ceremony, the Office of Arts & Culture and One Reel will host two exhibitions, one at the Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery (July 11 – September 27, 2017) and the other at the Seattle Center International Pavilion (September 1 –3, 2017). Both exhibitions feature artwork by the visual arts award recipients alongside year-by-year panels listing all the awardees and their accomplishments. The Seattle Center International Pavilion exhibition will be held during Bumbershoot weekend. The artworks in both exhibitions are part of the city’s portable works collection. The city has been collecting artwork for 46 years and the collection is comprised of paintings, prints, sculpture, tapestries, photographs, installations, mixed media and video.

The Mayor’s Arts Awards are presented in partnership with Bumbershoot and One Reel with media sponsor City Arts and event sponsors The Boeing Company and Chihuly Garden and Glass.

For more information about the Mayor’s Arts Awards, including past recipients, visit

About the 2017 Mayor’s Arts Award FINALISTS

Cultural Ambassador – Individual

Awarded to an individual who has significantly contributed to Seattle’s arts and cultural community and raised the visibility of Seattle’s arts culture.

Sharon Arnold, Bridge Productions

Sharon Arnold is a Seattle-based writer, curator, and founder of Bridge Productions. Since 2009, she has independently curated in various nontraditional and commercial spaces, and was one of four curators for the inaugural 2015 landmark event Out of Sight, which continues to run alongside the Seattle Art Fair each year. Bridge Productions is a hybridized commercial/experimental space focusing on process-based work and projects by artists, curators, writers, and performers. This model’s dexterity provides an engaged platform for a broad range of projects including exhibitions, publications, happenings and activations, curatorial collaborations, and curated box sets fostering a rigorous exploration of artistic work and concepts. Bridge collaborates with emerging and mid-career artists, writers, and curators to create a local and national context for their work; building community across the Pacific Northwest and the US. Sharon is currently the author of Field Notes, a bi-monthly online arts column for City Arts Magazine.


Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony

As the Seattle Symphony’s Music Director, Ludovic Morlot has been received with extraordinary enthusiasm by musicians and audiences alike, who have praised him for his deeply musical interpretations, his innovative programming and his focus on community collaboration. From 2012 to 2014 Morlot was also Chief Conductor of La Monnaie, one of Europe’s most prestigious opera houses. In the U.S., Ludovic Morlot has conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony. Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then at the Royal College of Music as recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. Morlot was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2014 in recognition of his significant contributions to music. He is Chair of Orchestral Conducting Studies at the University of Washington School of Music.


Assunta Ng, Northwest Asian Weekly

Assunta Ng is the founder and has been the publisher of the Seattle Chinese Post and Northwest Asian Weekly, the only English-language Pan Asian weekly in the Northwest. Her award-winning newspapers are more than 35 years old and have been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for strength in content. Ng has also established several community projects and organizations including the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation, an organization that designs leadership, community-building, and diversity training programs for youth and adults. Ng is the founder of Women of Color Empowered luncheon series, which showcased and celebrated women in power. Ng has received countless awards and honors, including the 2008 Wells Fargo Trailblazer Award for women in small business, the 2006 Hillary Clinton and Maria Cantwell Women of Valor Award, the 2005 Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award, and the University of Washington 1998 Multicultural Alumni Partnership Distinguished Alumnus Award.


Cultural Ambassador – Organization

Awarded to an organization that has significantly contributed to Seattle’s arts and cultural community and raised the visibility of Seattle’s arts culture.

Gay City

Gay City Arts is a program in which the arts and social justice values come together. We prioritize supporting and resourcing art by, with, and for Queer and Trans People of Color, Trans and Nonbinary People, LGBTQ People With Disabilities, Muslim LGBTQ People, LGBTQ Immigrants, LGBTQ Elders and Youth, Women, and LGBTQ Poor and Working Class People. As Gay City steps into our new role as Seattle’s LGBTQ Center, it’s essential that we reject the idea of a singular Queer narrative, and instead embrace the plurality of LGBTQ experiences and communities. Overwhelmingly, our arts seasons have not just involved, but benefited from the leadership of people living intersectional identities. People are craving opportunities to talk about the challenges and joys of living with multiple identities. Gay City Arts coming season, our fifth, features fifteen productions that involve theater, dance, music, poetry, spoken word, drag, burlesque, and film.

Seattle Music Partners

Seattle Music Partners cultivates a diverse and vibrant music-making community by providing youth with free music instruction and one-on-one mentoring. Through this unique combination of private instruction, mentorship, and collaborative ensemble experiences, SMP seeks to eliminate racial and economic barriers to quality music education. SMP hosts after-school programs two days a week at four elementary schools in the Central District, as well as an evening program for middle school musicians. Instruments, music books, music stands, and transportation are provided free of charge to participating students. Over 150 volunteers from more than 20 high schools, colleges, and community groups help make this work possible. SMP believes that the bonds formed through these musical relationships are fundamental to social change.


Tasveer is a non-profit film and art organization whose mission is to inspire social change through thought-provoking films, art, and storytelling. Tasveer was founded by two immigrant local South Asian women, Rita Meher & Farah Nousheen, in March 2002, after 9/11 as a need to dispel stereotypes of South Asians in the mainstream media. Their goal was to provide a platform for underrepresented South Asian voices, a non-judgmental space to engage in a community dialog on social issues relevant to South Asians.  Now Tasveer runs the largest social justice driven South Asian Film Festival in the world and the longest running South Asian Women Festival called Aaina which spotlights Yoni Ki Baat (a South Asian adaptation of the Vagina Monologues that empowers local South Asian women). Since then we have showcased over 1000 films on various social issues such as human rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, gender equality, class and caste discrimination, the environment and education.

Arts & Innovation

Awarded for originality, ingenuity, and resourcefulness within the creative sector. May include projects that weave together arts and technology, connecting new sectors, creative work in emerging industries, or transformational approaches to established genres. 

Susie Lee

Susie Lee has forged a socially engaged artistic practice of creative entrepreneurship, time-based new media, community convenings, and installations. Her work explores the amplification of human connection through technology. She received accolades from Frieze, Art News, the Guardian, CNN, NPR, Marie Claire, Engadget, The Washington Post, and ThinkProgress. Siren, the artist-driven app she co-founded, positively affected the lives of its thirty thousand subscribers, partnered with global brand Durex on a 37M view campaign, won Geekwire’s App of the Year, and received acclaim from influential arts institutions such asThe New Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, and International Center for Photography.  Lee has exhibited at a number of museums nationally and is included in notable collections. A graduate of Yale, Columbia and UW with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, science education and fine arts, Lee has been recognized as a TEDx speaker, Bonnie Bronson Fellow, Emerging Artist of the Year, Stranger Genius, and Artist to Watch.

NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth)

The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) is the world’s largest film festival for emerging directors and is the flagship program of The Talented Youth, a Seattle-based non-profit. The mission of The Talented Youth is the encouragement and acknowledgement of young artists working in the media arts – promoting their accomplishments through festivals and innovative programs and by celebrating the extraordinary young talent that exist and the compelling stories they tell. Each year, the 4-day festival showcases films by directors 24-and-under from across the globe and provides opportunities for filmmakers to explore emerging technologies like VR/360 filmmaking. NFFTY supports young filmmakers by offering professional level workshops such as a Works-in-Progress event, collaborative screenings, and other events year-round. Also, within NFFTY lies a creative production company, NFFTY Creative, that connects brands with emerging talent to produce original content. Through all the work of NFFTY, the organization aims to be at the forefront of addressing marked needs in education and networking for young artists – especially female-identifying artists and artists of color, and to expand opportunities for promotion of their work to a larger audience.

Courtney Sheehan, Northwest Film Forum

Courtney Sheehan is the executive director for Northwest Film Forum, the nonprofit film and arts center founded in 1995 and located in the Pike/Pine corridor of Capitol Hill. Courtney has curated and produced film programs for theaters and festivals on three continents. As a journalist, she covered events ranging from the world’s largest documentary festival to South America’s largest animation festival. Co-founder of Cine Migratorio, a migration-themed film festival in Spain, and the Seventh Art Stand, a national series of films from the countries and people affected by the travel bans, Courtney strives to build coalition through her work with film and media. She joined Northwest Film Forum first as a college intern, then as program director and artistic director, before becoming executive director in 2016. The Forum presents hundreds of films, community events, multidisciplinary performances, public discussions and workshops each year. In addition to producing the largest children’s film festival on the West Coast, the Forum offers a range of artist services and hosts fundraisers for community initiatives and nonprofits.



Emerging Leader in the field

Presented in honor of a newcomer who is shifting the field of arts and culture without legacy experience in the sector. Impacts may be artistic in nature, creating dialogue or spaces for dialogue, or bringing awareness to an under-represented topic. Contributions may be across a variety of disciplines and modes.

Legendary Children

Legendary Children is many things. It’s a special evening of afterhours arts programming that comes complete with high style and QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) communities in the main spotlight. Legendary Children is designed by our community members to be luxe, transgressive, and totally FREE, while also combining increased access to museums and fine art and libraries and information. Along the way we showcase community voices, prioritize equity and inclusion by standing at the intersection where the underground and arts and social justice meet. At Legendary Children QTPOC voices ringing loud and clear. Our audiences come for the live performances, the amazing performances by drag queens and drag kings, hot DJs, and the artistry of some of the Pacific Northwest’s most talented performers. And they leave with a sense that queer and trans people of color’s lives must matter in our broader communities. After all our beauty and leadership is legendary. Legendary Children is all ages, FREE and always by and for QTPOC.

Leilani Lewis

For Leilani Lewis, a career in the arts was inevitable: as a child, she spent countless hours exploring the Detroit Institute of Art, which instilled in her a reverence for the works, the artists, and the hallowed halls that housed them. Much later, this passion led her to the Northwest African American Museum shortly before its opening in 2008. Since then, Leilani, now at the University of Washington, has become a true homegrown leader who collaborates with artists of all disciplines to build community and provide opportunities for the public to engage with the arts. Through museum work and independent projects, Leilani established herself as a creative catalyst working on behalf of artists. Whether through independent curation, arts programming, advising, or just showing up, Leilani focuses on breaking down barriers to arts appreciation, strengthening the bonds that draw communities together, and giving her all to ensure a culturally vibrant future for the Northwest.

The Station

Hi my name is Luis Rodriguez, I’m an Immigrant from Mexico and the owner of The Station coffee shop in Beacon Hill, my wife Leona and I opened The Station coffee shop in May of 2010 for many reasons, the number one and most important reason was because we were trying to reclaim what belongs to us POC, number two my love for coffee thanks to my father introducing me to coffee at a such a young age and number three and very dear to my heart was to create jobs for my community! I truly love being an owner of my own business but mostly I love being the owner of The Station coffee shop!!




2005 Mayor’s Arts Awards

2005, the third year of the Mayor’s Arts Awards celebrated six individuals and organizations that have had a tremendous impact on our City. Please help us celebrate David Brewster and Town Hall, Peter Donnelly, Sara Liberty-Laylin and Adams Elementary, Alden Mason, The Tsutakawa Family and Reverend Patrinell Wright and Total Experience Gospel Choir, the 2005 Mayor’s Arts Award recipients.

Nominations are open now and this year’s ceremony will take place on Thursday, August 31 at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre at 4 p.m.

2005 highlights:

Seattle News: Jimi Hendrix’s (1942-1970) childhood home is moved from Seattle’s Central Area to Renton. –September 11, 2005

Top local music: Death Cab for Cutie—Plans; Minus The Bear—Menos El Oso

Top local grossing films: Best Film: Innocent Voices; Best Short: Raftman’s Razor; Best Documentary: Murderball —Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)

Top Books/best sellers in Seattle: When the Emperor Was Divine—Julie Otsuka —Seattle Public Library

Top TV shows: TV show Grey’s Anatomy (set in Seattle) premiered. —March 27, 2005


Celebrating the 2005 Mayor’s Arts Award recipients:

David Brewster and Town Hall—Cultural Catalyst

Town Hall Seattle is a vibrant artistic and civic hub located in the heart of Seattle. Annually, they engage 100,000+ people at more than 425 events and educational programs. Their mission is to level the cultural playing field and amplify the voices of diverse communities.

David Brewster is a longtime journalist and civic entrepreneur in Seattle. He is also the founder, creator, and former executive director of Town Hall Seattle. Since coming to Seattle, Brewster has founded and led several organizations, such as: Seattle Weekly and Sasquatch Books. Currently Brewster is the President of The Seattle Athenaeum.

Peter Donnelly—Tour de Force

The late Peter Donnelly was a key figure in the Seattle artistic community for more than 45 years. During his 21-year tenure with the Seattle Repertory Theatre he served as the managing director and later the producing director. Donnelly also co-founded the Seattle Arts Commission, served as Vice-Chairman of Americans for the Arts and was the President and CEO of ArtsFund until retiring in 2005. He served on the Board of Directors for many arts organizations as well.

Sara Liberty Laylin and Adams Elementary School—Innovation in Integrated Arts Education

Adams Elementary, located in the heart of Ballard, is a holistic school that provides an engaging, arts-integrated education. Teachers use the arts to expand learning opportunities in all subjects and every student, including bilingual and special education children, receive hands-on instruction in visual and performing arts.

Sara Liberty‑Laylin has been an educator for over 29 years; she has taught Pre-k through high school. Liberty-Laylin served as the principal at Adams Elementary School, creating their integrated Arts curriculum. Sara truly believes that the arts will teach humanity and as a result students will be better able to cope with the diversity offered in Seattle.

Alden Mason, Northwest Legacy—Visual Art

The late Alden Mason was a Pacific Northwest artist, painter, leader and mentor; he dedicated himself to the arts community for over 50 years. As a teacher at the University of Washington School of Art, Mason brought his own artistic vision to the classroom, inspiring his students to ‘paint what you feel.’ Mason’s work has been featured in numerous galleries and museums in the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco and Wisconsin.

The Tsutakawa Family: Gerard, Deems, Marcus and Mayumi—A Generation of Artistic Inspiration & Leadership

The sons and daughter of Ayame Iwasa Tsutakawa and the late sculptor and painter George Tsutakawa have individually made significant contributions to the artistic and cultural landscape in Seattle and, together, serve as models and inspiration for a generation of Asian American and other artists and musicians. Each has earned accolades in their chosen discipline: Gerard is a sculptor; Deems is a jazz pianist; Marcus is a composer and teacher; and Mayumi is arts administrator, curator and editor.

Reverend Patrinell Wright and Total Experience Gospel Choir—Soul of the Community

Total Experience Gospel Choir is a nationally and internationally known gospel singing group; they are hailed as one of the Pacific Northwest’s finest soulful ensembles. They perform at schools, penal institutions, festivals, public events, political events, churches and religious establishments as well as performing on radio and TV. The choir has engaged in spiritual pilgrimages, educational ventures and tours in 38 states, 5 continents and 22 countries.

Pastor Patrinell Wright is the founder and director of the Total Experience Gospel Choir. Her music career is quite extensive and she has received numerous awards, including: the Washington State Governors Ethnic Heritage Award for helping to preserve Black gospel music in our state; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award; and Edwin Pratt Award from the Urban League of Greater Seattle.

2004 Mayor’s Arts Awards

2004 Mayor’s Arts Awards. Photo: Ian Edelstein.

2004, the second year of the Mayor’s Arts Awards, celebrated six individuals and organizations that have had a tremendous impact on our City. Please help us celebrate Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, The Seattle Foundation, Tim Summers, Sub Pop Records, and Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, the 2004 Mayor’s Arts Award recipients.

Nominations are open  now and this year’s ceremony will take place on Thursday, August 31 at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre at 4 p.m.

2004 highlights:

Commissioned public art installed in 2004: Lightbulb Benches, by Niemi Ries

Seattle News: The Burke Museum’s Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art presents its founding art auction. —May 23, 2004

Seattle Rollerderby League, Rat City Rollergirls was founded.

Top NW albums: Vells— Flight from Echo Falls; Visqueen— Sunset on Dateland

Best at Seattle International Film Festival, 2004: Film: Facing Windows; Short: Consent; Documentary: Born into Brothels

Seattle Public Library, Seattle Reads, 2004: My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile— Isabel Allende

Celebrating the 2004 Mayor’s Arts Award recipients:

Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas – Outstanding Contribution to the Community

Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas has been the home of the African-American community in Seattle for over 100 years. It is the only local, nonprofit organization solely dedicated to presenting and supporting emerging Black art, artists and ideas in the Seattle area.

The Seattle Foundation – Outstanding Arts Philanthropy

The Seattle Foundation, the state’s oldest and largest community foundation, was established in 1946 to improve quality of life in the greater Seattle area. The Seattle Foundation manages nearly $1 billion in philanthropic investments. Together with its donors, the Foundation distributes millions in grants annually to thousands of diverse nonprofits locally, nationally and internationally in such fields as health and human services, education, environment and the arts.

Tim Summers – Unsung Hero, Outstanding Individual Commitment to the Arts

Tim Summers has been active in the Seattle arts community since 1980. He is a notable photographer and has served on the boards of multiple local dance organizations including Beyond Dance and the d9 Dance Collective.

Sub Pop Records – Excellence and Innovation by the Next Generation

Sub Pop Records is an independent record label based in Seattle and has long been an integral force in the Northwest’s vital, vibrant music community. The label’s dedication, flexibility, perseverance and creativity has allowed it to continually stand out as one of the most respected independent labels in the country.

Kent Stowell and Francia Russell – Special Lifetime Achievement

Founding artistic directors Francia Russell and Kent Stowell led Pacific Northwest Ballet from 1977 until their retirement in June 2005. During their tenure, Ms. Russell headed the Ballet’s school and Mr. Stowell served as Principal Choreographer. They have received numerous awards including the Washington State Governor’s Award, the Dance Magazine Award and ArtsFund’s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award, 2004.