Office of Arts & Culture participating in Seattle Design Festival 2015

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture is participating in Seattle Design Festival 2015 with two unique events; a workshop that will explore the vision of an equitable city and a hands-on art making workshop with Portland artist Horatio Law for his temporary public artwork South Park Crisálida.

The Seattle Design Festival celebrates the ways design makes life better. The 2015 festival: Design for Equity explores how design can contribute to a more equitable society. From buildings that everyone can access and move through, to apps that enable civic participation by people in every location and language, to cities where we can all afford to live – design is a vehicle of innovation. Design for Equity invites us to create a future in which everyone in our society – from every background, ability, race, age, gender, location or economic status – can access the same opportunities and outcomes, both now and in the future.

Saturday, September 19 • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Seattle Central Library, 1000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104
WORKSHOP – Designing the Equitable City Four agencies from the City of Seattle present a workshop on visioning an equitable city.

Cities are spaces where diverse cultures, experiences, backgrounds, traditions and ways of being converge. They are nests for creative expression and offer pathways for unique and dynamic opportunities. Yet, although diversity is a clear asset to all cities, not all communities reap the same benefits of what a city has to offer.

The City of Seattle has made a commitment to work towards social equity with an emphasis on racial equity, across all departments. In this workshop you will hear from the City of Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights, Seattle Design Commission, Seattle’s Planning Commission and the Office of Arts & Culture as they share the role that we as designers, urban planners, and artists play in creating a new equitable vision for our cities. There will be a panel of commissioners, design professionals, artists and staff who will share what is happening at a city-wide level to realize the City’s commitment to building a racially equitable Seattle, followed by an interactive brainstorming breakout session where we will all explore our own individual roles in visioning and realizing a more inclusive home that serves all communities. There will be an opportunity to report out on the smaller-group discussions and share what we’ve learned from each other.

Sunday, September 20 • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
8709 14th Ave S, Seattle, 98108
WORKSHOP – South Park Crisálida – Envisioning Community Transformation Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and South Park Arts co-present Horatio Law’s South Park Crisálida

Portland artist Horatio Law and South Park Arts present a hands-on art making workshop that invites community members and Design in Public participants to partner in the creation of South Park Crisálida, a temporary public artwork that will be installed in the South Park neighborhood. Law’s sculpture invites the South Park community to be co-creator of the artwork by weaving “Community Yarns” that will form the outer skin of the artwork. Each participant will be able to create a 10’ “yarn” by weaving colorful ropes and incorporating personal artifacts. Design in Public participants are invited to observe and participate in this equity-building activity that empowers the community to create change.

Law is designing South Park Crisálida to raise community awareness about a sewer improvement project that Seattle Public Utilities will construct in 2016 and become a destination piece that attracts visitors to the neighborhood during construction. Through this workshop, community members and merchants will work together to build stronger ties, as well as incorporate their vision for a future transformed South Park.

“Community Yarns” created during the workshop will be displayed at the South Park Library (8604 Eighth Ave. S., 98108) until South Park Crisálida is installed in spring 2016. The artwork is commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture with Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art funds.

More information on SPU’s South Park Sewer Improvement Project can be found here.

ACCESSIBILITY: ADA/Wheelchair Accessible, Family Friendly, Scent-Free Space, Multilingual program: Spanish interpretation (please check back for additional language interpretation)

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

Racial Equity Learning Cohort – Turning Commitment into Action

Registration opens April 13 at 9 a.m.; closes April 21 at 5 p.m.

The Office of Arts & Culture in conjunction with the Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) is offering arts and cultural organizations the tools they need to turn their commitments to building racial equity – both within their organizations and through their work in and with community – into actions for tangible change. Part of the Community Institute for Racial Equity, this  cohort will include intensive training on  skills to address perceived and actual barriers to racial equity within arts and cultural organizations and the sector as a whole.

“One of the priorities of our Office is to ensure that the arts and culture sector thrives in Seattle,” says Kathy Hsieh, Cultural Partnerships & Funding Manager. “This vision is only possible if the arts and cultural scene is relevant and meaningful and inclusive of all the people who live and work and visit the City. But currently, because of the structural racism that exists, arts leaders, artists and arts and cultural organizations aren’t even aware of how we’re all holding this inequity in place. The workshops we’re offering are in direct response to the desire of many in our community to learn how we can all work together to create racial equity. Talking about it isn’t enough. We need to act upon our talk in order to make change happen.”

Pre-registration Checklist

  1. Read the registration requirements carefully.
  2. Share the cohort description and registration requirements with your executive director or group leader. Make sure the executive director or person with that level of authority signs the Organizational Commitment Form. (For groups with a horizontal leadership structure, please designate someone to sign the form on behalf of the group.)
  3. Select and confirm which two – three individuals from your group will participate before completing the registration form. Make sure each person is able to attend all hours of each of the first two training dates and the follow-up session six weeks later. If someone is not able to attend all the sessions, we ask that you select another person or wait to participate in a future cohort. Additional cohort dates will be announced soon.

Who: Representatives of arts and cultural organizations. No previous training is required. Groups must meet all of the registration requirements. Each participant must complete their own registration form. Only 12 – 15 organizations will be able to participate. For a full list of requirements visit Turning Commitment into Action.

  • Each organization must send 2-3 people who work in different parts of the organization, and are able to participate in the entire training and work together for up to 3 hours in-between the sessions. These people will need to be able to support each other’s work as change agents within the organization. These people must include:
    • At least one organizational decision-maker in a leadership position who is able to authorize implementation of planned changes and hold accountable all levels of the organization.
    • One-to-two others who are situated in different areas of the organization with access to complementary resources and levers to make change.
  • Organizations must complete an Organizational Commitment Form. This states that the organization will fully participate in the training sessions and develop, implement and track progress on the racial equity plan created through this learning cohort.
  • Participants must be able to meet together for a total of 3 – 4 hours (not necessarily consecutive) during the two weeks between the first and second training sessions.

What: During the training participants will build their analysis of racism and racial equity, learn how to use a racial equity assessment to identify personal and organizational power, and develop targeted strategies to achieve racial equity. They will then create a plan to build racial equity within their organizations and through their work with artists, audiences, partners and communities.

Dates: The cohort includes these required sessions:

  • Two full-day training sessions with 3 – 4 hours of work in-between, the bulk of which will be done with the other people from your group: Friday, May 15, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday, May 29, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., at El Centro de la Raza
  • A check-in session to explore tools and learn from peers’ successes and challenges: Wednesday, July 15, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • A final session to assess progress and plan adjustments to strategies and tactics: 4 hours, fall 2015, TBD.

El Centro de la Raza
2524 16th Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98144

Register: Register and read all registration requirements at:


Between April 7 – 15th at 12 pm Diana Falchuk – 206.684.5282

Between April 15th at noon and April 21st at 5pm Kathy Hsieh – 206.733.9926

Photo by Jenny Crooks