Join the Office of Arts & Culture at an informal conversation about Racial Equity and Funding

Kathy Hsieh, Cultural Partnership Program Manager for the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), is hosting open chat sessions designed to bring people in the arts and cultural community together around common questions related to funding and racial equity. These informal conversations are a great way to meet with a small group of people, explore questions, discover possible answers and build connections.

Everyone who attends can learn more about ARTS and each other in the process. Half of the sessions focus on racial equity topics, while the other half cover funding-related topics.

To RSVP please email or call (206) 733-9926. Please include your name, phone number and email address, plus which date you would like to attend.

Upcoming open chats are:

  • Focus/subject: Racial Equity
    Tuesday, March 21, 2017 4:30 – 6 p.m.
    Seattle Presents Gallery entrance at 5th Ave and Columbia St.
    700 5th Ave Seattle, WA 98104
  • Focus/subject: Funding
    Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 5 – 6:30 p.m.
    Seattle Presents Gallery entrance at 5th Ave and Columbia St.
    700 5th Ave Seattle, WA 98104
  • Focus/subject: Racial Equity
    Thursday, April 6, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
    Office of Arts & Culture
    700 5th Ave, Suite 1766 Seattle, WA 98104

Photo: SALT Mentor Night, 2016. By Robert Wade.

ARTS presents Racial Equity workshops with national speaker Carmen Morgan

SEATTLE (September 7, 2016) —Changing the power dynamics in our society and addressing persistent race and social justice inequities is a fundamental pillar of the work of the City of Seattle and the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS). Art allows us to express ourselves and see other people’s realities in ways that can break down barriers and lead to change within ourselves and our institutions. As one tool to address these inequities, ARTS is offering workshops addressing racial equity with the nationally renowned director of artEquity, Carmen Morgan in September.

The artistic process is a powerful tool to help communities come together and foster understanding,” says Randy Engstrom, Director of the Office of Arts & Culture. “Artists and arts organizations can build bridges to bring us together and create solutions. It is integral for us to offer our arts organizations the training they need to address these issues and build a better, more inclusive, stronger society.”

ARTS is committed to ensuring that Seattle’s arts and cultural organizations reflect our community and have the tools and trainings they need to remove barriers to participation, and involve diverse cultures and underserved audiences and artists. Carmen Morgan will be in Seattle in September to offer two newly created workshops, Centering People of Color in the Racial Equity Movement (Sept. 21) and Becoming Effective White Allies by Supporting People of Color (Sept. 22).  Scholarships are available for those working in the arts and cultural sector. Please contact Kathy Hsieh at for more information.

Centering People of Color in the Racial Equity Movement with Carmen Morgan
Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 1– 4:30 p.m.
2100 Building, Community Room B
2100 24th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

What do we people of color (POC) working towards racial equity need to help us feel supported, safe, and better able to be our full selves rather than token representatives of our race? How can we stay engaged in the movement and stay motivated against potential burn-out? Covering self-care techniques to strategies for POCs working in predominantly white organizations or running our own POC-led institutions, this workshop creates space for and prioritizes the needs of POCs. Class size 25. $150/person.

Becoming Effective White Allies by Supporting People of Color with Carmen Morgan
Thursday, September 22, 2016, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, West Room
104 17th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

This workshop is aimed towards those who want to be more effective white allies by learning how they can better support people of color in working towards racial equity. White people have an important role in undoing racism in this country. There are specific strategies that they can take on to help create greater equity in how the movement advances forward. This session will be most effective for white allies who already have an understanding of white privilege and are ready to partner more authentically with people of color. Class size 25. $150/person.

Carmen Morgan is a national consultant leading conversations at the forefront of the field on equity, diversity, and inclusion issues. She is the founder and director of artEquity, a national program that provides tools, resources, and training to support the intersections of art and activism. She has provided leadership development, organizational planning and coaching for staff, executives, and boards for over 100 non-profit organizations.  She is on the faculty of Yale School of Drama where she addresses issues of identity, equity, and inclusion in the arts.

Morgan’s work is rooted in popular education, community organizing, and a commitment to social justice. She remains dedicated to community building and activism, and has worked in the non-profit sector for over 20 years.


The Office of Arts & Culture, in partnership with the Office for Civil Rights, is committed to addressing, and increasing community-wide awareness about, existing inequities so that we, along with our cultural and community partners, can most effectively work together toward a vision of racial equity. Seattle Presents Gallery features a variety of immersive installations, curated exhibitions pulled from the city’s Portable Works Collection, resident artists, and original artworks. The gallery presents both emerging and established artists and curators, and provides all who pass by the opportunity to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences.

Seattle Office of Arts & Culture receives $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

NEA granted 18 awards totaling $437,000 for Seattle; $82 M Nationwide 


SEATTLE (May 10, 2016) —The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts(NEA), it is one of 18 awards, totaling $437,000 for Seattle. The grant for ARTS will support an artist in residence program focused on increasing racial equity in arts and culture organizations.

The NEA grant is part of their Art Works awards which supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields. In total the NEA is awarding more than $82 million to fund local arts projects and partnerships nationwide.

“The NEA’s support for local artists and organizations is invaluable for us thrive as a creative and innovative city,” says Mayor Murray. “This grant will help us deepen our efforts to create a more just and equitable society through the arts. We know that cultural organizations, artists, and their art play a unique role in witnessing, inspiring and creating a stage on which we can work towards eliminating societal inequity and injustice.”

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

The NEA Art Works grant will support the third phase of the Office of Arts & Culture and Office for Civil Rights’ Turning Commitment into Action (TCA) program which aims to provide arts and cultural organizations the training and the skills to address barriers to racial equity within the arts and implement change. The first phase of TCA was a racial equity cohort for arts and cultural organizations, offering trainings on racial equity and tools to create a racial equity plan, which reached 30 organizations. The second phase slated to begin in late 2016 is a teaching artist cohort that will provide individual teaching artists the opportunity to share best teaching practices in the arts through a racial equity lens. The third phase planned for 2017-18, which the Art Works grant supports, creates an artist-in-residence program centered on racial equity, matching individual teaching artists with arts and cultural organizations to develop best practices in the creative artistic process, deepen community engagement and create opportunities to remove barriers to access in the arts.

For more information about the Turning Commitment into Action program visit For more information on NEA awards visit



Americans for the Arts (AFTA) 2015 Annual Convention
June 12-14, Chicago, IL

Americans for the Arts serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Their convention, AFTACON, is a blend of cultural advocates leading the changes we are seeing in the arts field and advancing the arts as central to the future of our communities.

During my frenetic and amazing week in Chicago I steeped myself in the arts, culture and architecture of the city, and spent hours meeting, discussing and connecting with some of the most engaged and passionate arts advocates in the country. Throughout all the panels, discussions, debates, workshops and events, two themes emerged: racial equity and rapid change. These two issues have been central to the office for years and it was gratifying to see that the initiatives we are doing locally are an integral part of the national conversation.

  • Racial Equity: Equity, diversity and inclusion was center stage at this year’s conference. There is no question that civil rights and equity dominates today’s social landscape. Our history doesn’t have to define us, but what we do now, and how we mitigate the impacts of structural racism and inequality built by our past will define our future. The challenge of creating equity is one everyone is exploring, through policy, programs and best practices; we examined how cultural equity can lead to livable cities and stronger communities.

In particular the United States Urban Arts Federation (USUAF), an organization of which I am a member of the leadership team, is working on developing policy to address cultural equity and how we can break down barriers using arts and cultural organizations as the nexus for education, redevelopment and affordable housing.

During the conference ARTS staff (Jason Huff, Kathy Hsieh, Liz Johnson, Lara Davis, and myself) led a free-form conversation about Racial Equity and the Arts, putting our race and social justice efforts at the center of a national conversation.

NOW is a change moment: We are at a point of rapid change. U.S. cities are experiencing a rebirth where creative industries are contributing to our economies at a faster pace than ever before. Cities are becoming innovative incubators and we are at the crest of this wave. Arts and culture can be a driving force for our cities; we can lead urban growth, and be the connector/glue/backbone for solving problems in education, livability, and equity.

Now is the time to take action and begin implementation. Bringing arts education back to our schools improves students’ performance and more importantly prepares them to enter a broad spectrum of creative industries, including public and private, tech, design and science.

There is a powerful convergence of equity, arts education and cultural placemaking and Seattle is a nexus where it is all working together. Each program and initiative is strengthened by community, government and business ties. We are stronger as a whole when we all work together, when arts focused education results in an educated youth that can meet the demands of economic industry drivers. When cultural placemaking can influence the city’s development and planning goals we create a city that not only welcomes, but provides opportunities for immigrants and refugees, artists, low-income communities and sustainable growth.

I always enjoy the amazing whirlwind that is AFTACON and come back to Seattle inspired by what the arts can achieve. In the coming months our office will continue the important initiatives that we have undertaken and we hope to make this city a model of  how to bring ideas from the drawing board to the street.


By Randy Engstrom, director Office of Arts & Culture

Photo: Chicago architecture taken by Randy Engstrom