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.


ARTS welcomes two new commissioners

Jescelle Major and Sarah Wilke join the Seattle Arts Commission.

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

Jescelle Major is a landscape and urban designer at multidisciplinary design firm Mithun. She holds a BS in Sustainability and the Built Environment from the University of Florida and a Masters of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University. Her thesis research and current professional design work have a heavy focus on urban scale change centered on environmental sensitivity, historic fabric and social justice. She has also worked alongside various teams within the City of Miami Beach Parks and Recreation and the planning department at Denver Zoo, before relocating to Seattle. After spending most of her life in the Southeast, she sees the Arts Commission as the perfect opportunity to engage in dialogue, critique and knowledge capture here, in the City of Seattle. Major is involved with the ULI, Arcade Magazine, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Center for Wooden Boats and a local rowing club.

Major served as a Get Engaged Seattle Design Commissioner for the 2016-2017 term and continues to serve as a member of the City’s Public Art Advisory Committee.

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

Sarah Wilke is the Executive Director of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), the largest, most highly attended film festival in the United States. In addition to its 25-day festival which presents over 450 features, short films, and documentaries from over 80 countries each year, SIFF provides year-round film programming though SIFF Cinema’s five screens and SIFF Education youth and adult programming. Prior to joining SIFF, Wilke was the Managing Director of Seattle’s contemporary performing arts center On the Boards, where for 12 years she led day-to-day and long-term strategic management of the organization. During her time there, On the Boards received a 2015 Fractured Atlas Arts Innovation Award for OntheBoards.tv., a 2013 William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, a 2011 Mayor’s Arts Award, and a 2006 Stranger Genius Award for outstanding Arts Organization. Wilke worked as managing director of Consolidated Works in Seattle, as associate curator of education at the Tacoma Art Museum, and at the Freer & Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. in various education, programming, and curatorial positions. Wilke was a Fulbright Fellow in Sri Lanka. She has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, The Kresge Artist Fellowships, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Artist Trust, and the National Performance Network.


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 Seattle Art Commission welcomes Dr. Quinton Morris

Dr. Quinton Morris is a concert violinist, educator, entrepreneur, filmmaker and founder of The Young Eight String Octet, comprised of distinguished African American string players from the nation’s most prestigious music schools. Morris earned a Master of Music degree from the Boston Conservatory and a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. Currently he is the Director of Chamber and Instrumental Music and Associate Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Seattle University. A native of Renton, WA, he is also the founder of The Key to Change, a nonprofit whose mission is to ignite positive change in the world through music education. Key to Change has a violin studio in South King County, which serves middle and high school students of color and lower economic backgrounds in Renton, Kent, Auburn, Maple Valley, and Federal Way.

Dr. Morris is a board member of Artist Trust and has received the Bronze Award at the Global Music Awards and Diamond Award at the European Independent Film Awards in 2016, the United States Army Medal of Honor in 2007 and a Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award in 2011.

New Seattle Arts Commissioners

The Seattle Arts Commission welcomes Dawn Chirwa, Senior Advisor at Philanthropy Northwest, S. Surface, Program Director at Design in Public and the new Get Engaged commissioner Ana Lester, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dawn Chirwa focuses on a wide range of strategic advisory work for The Giving Practice at Philanthropy Northwest. Prior to joining Philanthropy Northwest, Chirwa was chief of staff in the U.S. Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she helped develop education strategies and led critical implementation initiatives. She also served as chief of staff to Goldman Sachs’ president and COO and helped build a Goldman Sachs capital markets public policy group. Chirwa received her J.D. from Stanford Law School and her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin.


S. Surface is a Seattle-based designer, photographer, curator, community organizer, writer, critic, researcher and lecturer. Surface’s practice centers the creation and preservation of livable, equitable places and demonstrates how design can support civic participation. As Program Director of Design in Public, Surface organizes the annual city-wide Seattle Design Festival and curates exhibitions at the Center for Architecture & Design. Surface is a curator with The Alice, a project/exhibition space and writers’ residency, and is a visiting critic at the University of Washington Department Of Architecture. Surface received their M. Arch. from the Yale School of Architecture and their B.F.A. in Integrated Design from Parsons School of Design, New York, NY.


Get Engaged Seattle Arts Commissioner:

Ana Lester is an arts advocate and supports fundraising and development efforts for artists and arts organizations. She currently works at Richard Hugo House in Business & Operations. Previously, Lester was on assignment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in K-12 Education working directly with grantees and partners to provide support and assistance during investment shaping. She also served as the Development Manager for Spectrum Dance Theater where she secured funding from individuals, wrote grants, and helped coordinate special events. She has a wide variety of experience in the non-profit arts sector and has done graduate school research and internships at Bellevue Arts Museum, On the Boards, the University of Washington Museum without Walls, Fremont Abbey Arts Center, and ArtsFund. Currently, she is the Development Chair on the Board of Directors for Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra. Lester has her Masters in Fine Arts from Seattle University in Arts Leadership, a degree in Museum Studies from the University of Washington; and majored in History with a minor in Anthropology from the State University of New York at Brockport.