NEA Chairman Visits Seattle

NEA Chairman Jane Chu was recently in Seattle to promote the arts and announce The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students.

While Chairman Chu was in Seattle the Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience hosted a Town Hall. It was a vibrant night and exemplified why Washington state and Seattle care so passionately about the arts.

Here is why the arts are so important in Chairman Chu’s own words, excerpted from her remarks that night:

Art can celebrate and preserve our heritage, and also help us see what’s special about who we are, and help us find our place in the world. The arts benefit all aspects of society. We see through hard evidence that in the State of Washington alone, the arts generated $1.8 billion in the economy. There were close to 120,000 creative jobs throughout the state, and that number continues to grow.

In the United States as a whole, the arts and cultural sectors made up 4.23% of the nation’s GDP in 2013. That’s $704.2 billion, that’s three-quarters of a trillion dollars. 4.7 million workers were employed in the production of arts and cultural goods.

And when we see that the ways people are participating in the arts have expanded, we can celebrate that Americans are recognizing the value and meaning that the arts bring to their everyday lives. In addition to the wonderful traditional ways the NEA has measured arts participation for the past five decades, we also know that:

Three-quarters of all American adults – that’s 167 million people – used electronic media to view or listen to art; or they create music or videos through electronic media. More than half of all Americans attended a live visual or performing arts event.

And now, more than ever before, a greater share of adults, take art classes or lessons; like creative writing, acting, visual arts, or music. The arts are a sector that is rich and textured. There’s some type of art for everyone and the cultural landscape can accommodate the different perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors of Americans better than it ever has before.

Washingtonians are overachievers when it comes to participating in the arts. For example, the national average rate of U.S. adults who attended a live performing arts event is 37.4%. In the State of Washington, the average is 45.5%.

  • The national average for attending a jazz performance is 8.1%. The Washington average is 12.7%.
  • In classical music, the national average is 8.8%, but the Washington average is 13.9%.
  • In attendance at Latin Music performances, the national average has been 5.1%, and Washington’s average is slightly higher, at 5.6%.
  • The national average for attending a musical play or opera is 16%, but Washington’s attendance is 20.8%. And in non-musical plays, the national average is 8.3%, and Washington exceeds the national average with 9.9%.
  • In dance, the national attendance average of 7.4% is exceeded in Washington by 10.4%.
  • And the national average of 20.8% of those who attended an outdoor performing arts festival, is eclipsed by Washington’s average attendance of 29.3%.

We’re really making progress as a nation, in moving away from the old stereotype that the arts are removed from the rest of society, or that they’re only for some people but not for others, when we know that isn’t true. They allow us to go deeper, at its heart, the arts is the creative process; this process of innovation and creativity that has made America so great. That is what’s behind the transformational power that the arts have.

When artists create, they’re able to draw in a deeper level of energy, of meaning, of value. They’re able to find new solutions to tired old problems, solving them sometimes in unexpected ways. They’re more appreciative of taking risks. And time stands still for them. Have you ever been so immersed in a process that you enjoyed – even if the process was very complex – that you looked up and suddenly realized that hours upon hours had passed? When we enter the creative process, we’re tapping into an opportunity to provide richer meaning, deeper value, and greater connections for ourselves. And when we attend or participate in these performances, and programs, and arts activities, we’re able to share and honor the creative processes of others, as well.

We know that the arts have provided opportunities to transcend the use of linear, everyday words, and touch something deeper and far more meaningful, making our lives worthwhile. They help us become the best versions of ourselves, providing individuals, communities, and industries with the tools needed to grow and achieve.

ARTS was proud to host the Town Hall with Chairman Chu and we all look forward to more NEA visits to Seattle in the future.

Photo by Strauss Peyton Studios.

ARTS Welcomes three new art commissioners

This month the Office of Arts & Culture welcomes three new arts commissioners: artist Juan Alonso-Rodriguez; Steve Galatro, executive director of Pratt Fine Arts Center and Cassie Chin, deputy executive director at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. All three bring a wealth of arts and cultural experience to the commission.

Juan Alonso-Rodriguez arrived in the United States from his native Cuba in 1966. He is a self-taught artist whose transition from music to visual arts coincided with his move to Seattle in 1982. His work has been exhibited throughout the US, Canada and Latin America and is included in the permanent collections of the Tacoma Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, Microsoft, Swedish & Harborview Hospitals and General Mills and he has created public works for Century Link Field, Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, King County Housing Authority, Epiphany School, Sound Transit’s Light Rail system and Chief Sealth High School. His awards include a 2010 Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award, The Neddy Fellowship, PONCHO Artist of the Year, two Artist Trust GAPs, a 4Culture Individual Artist Grant and a residency at the Centrum Foundation. In 2015, he completed artist residencies for the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture and Town Hall Seattle. Photo by Kseniya Sovenko

Steve Galatro, Pratt Fine Arts Center’s Executive Director since 2012, has extensive experience in nonprofit arts administration and higher education, elevated by an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University. Previous management experience comes from various positions at Empty Space Theatre and the Seattle University Fine Arts Department, where he continues to serve as an adjunct professor. In 2014, Galatro was honored for his rejuvenation of Pratt as one of the top 40 Under 40 business leaders in the region by the Puget Sound Business Journal.



Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, oversees planning and implementation of exhibition, collection, public programming and education initiatives in collaboration with community members. In her 20 plus years with the museum, she has worked with numerous community advisory committees and community members to create exhibitions, gather oral histories and produce other museum projects, including The Wing’s recent multi-year exhibition on Bruce Lee. During the museum’s capital project, she led community-based program planning and served on the design team. She is the author of The Wing’s Community-based Exhibition handbook. She currently serves on the 4Culture Heritage Advisory Board. Chinn holds a BA and MA in art history as well as a Master in Teaching.

The 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council, supports the city agency. Commission members include artists, arts professionals and other citizens with diverse backgrounds and strong links to Seattle’s arts community. The mayor appoints seven of the commissioners; the City Council appoints seven, and a 15th member is selected by those 14. An additional commissioner is selected through the YMCA’s “Get Engaged” program.

September 5 community invited to celebrate expansion of Hing Hay Park


Hing Hay Park is the premier gathering space in the Chinatown-International District.  Hing Hay literally means “pleasurable gatherings.” On Saturday, September 5 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., the community is invited to celebrate Hing Hay Park at 423 Maynard Ave. S. before construction begins for the park expansion in the fall.

The celebration marks the upcoming construction of the Hing Hay Park expansion and the closing weekend of the Bruce Lee Year 1 exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (The Wing), which will be open until 8 p.m. that night. The celebration starts with plenty of activities for families to enjoy.  The event features displays of the new Hing Hay Park expansion, historic photographs of the park, children’s activities including paper lantern making, coloring, face painting and dragon hand tattoos, table tennis and chess. All will be treated to a Bruce Lee movie entitled  “Enter the Dragon “ at dusk (approximately 8:30 p.m.).

The park design is based on the multi-cultural and historic aspects of the Chinatown-International District and moves towards a contemporary setting.  It respects the past while building for the future.  It will be a gathering place for everyone.

Located at the old post office site on 6th and King, the expanded Hing Hay Park was designed by local SvR Architecture with Turenscape, a world-class architecture firm based in Beijing.  They gathered input from the community and gained advice from the Friends of Hing Hay Park.  The design features a welcoming gateway on the southwest corner of the park, places for large and small gatherings and attractive terraced landscaping which creates multiple spaces for a various activities. The old and the new are seamlessly blended together into one place.

“I want to thank the community for their participation in planning for this park and ask for your cooperation during construction,” said Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent. “This park will provide a great community gathering space and contribute to an even healthier neighborhood.”

The planned expansion will double the size of the park.  Construction is anticipated to begin in fall with completion in late spring 2016.

Celebration sponsors include Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Friends of Hing Hay Park, Wing Luke Museum, Chong Wa Benevolent Association, the Filipino American Historical Society and the Seattle Chinatown ID Preservation and Development Authority.

Civic Partner Highlight: The Wing

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

This May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – in other words, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States and the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. The Wing is a longtime Civic Partner of the Office of Arts and Culture and is a glittering gem in the cultural landscape of Seattle.

Founded in 1966, the museum was named after Wing Luke (1925-1965), the first Asian American to hold public office in the Pacific Northwest.  The Wing explores the culture, art and history of the pan-Asian Pacific American experience and is the first Smithsonian affiliate in the Pacific Northwest as well as an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service. Their mission is to connect everyone to the rich history, dynamic cultures and art of the Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences. Their community rich exhibitions offer authentic perspectives on a unique version of the American story.

The Wing exhibitions have explored Seattle’s Japanese community incarceration during World War II, community portrait galleries featuring Filipino, Vietnamese and South Asian portraits, a history of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and temporary exhibitions featuring popular culture and icons. The museum also offers guided neighborhood walking tours that provide an insider look at the historic and culturally-rich Chinatown-International District. Tours include Historic Hotel tour, Bruce Lee’s Chinatown tour, Songs of Willow Frost tour, and dumpling tours (yes, please).

What does being a Civic Partner mean to The Wing? “Support from Seattle Office of Arts & Culture enables The Wing to give voice to those who are underrepresented and underresourced to share their art, culture, history, passions and perspectives. Being a Civic Partner demonstrates our joint effort in providing opportunities to bridge communities and connect with the general public overall.”

Don’t miss the following exhibitions and events at The Wing during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:

Immigration in Context
Thursday, May 7, 6-8pm
Join us for a lively discussion about how immigration and the U.S’s response to new migrants have changed over the last 50 years. Panelists from Changelab, UW, Washington DREAM Act of Coalition, and more will attend. Moderated by Cynthia Brothers. In conjunction with the Belonging exhibit with support from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. RSVP through the website. Free.

Baseball Saved Us
Saturday, May 9, 11am-12pm
Come see Baseball Saved Us, the award-winning children’s book, presented by 5th Avenue Theatre! Follow the journey of young Shiro, who, along with his family, is imprisoned in a “camp” unlike any other, and his struggles learning how to play baseball and survive. Free.

Constructs: Installations by Asian Pacific American Women Artists
May 15, 2015 – October 18, 2015
Explore history & memory, traditional arts & new technology, identity & belonging, and more – all through immersive and interactive environments that have transformed space at The Wing.

Bruce Lee’s Chinatown Tour
Retrace Bruce’s footsteps through the Chinatown-ID, his old stomping ground. His first martial arts studio and his hangouts – see how he became a part of the local community. For more details, go to or call 206.623.5124 ext.133

Interesting Fact: The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

The Wing personifies the type of organization that the Civic Partners program funds. The Civic Partner program awards funding to arts and cultural and heritage organizations in all disciplines with a minimum three-year history of serving Seattle residents and visitors. The City’s investment is aimed at creating broad public access to a rich array of quality arts opportunities while promoting a healthy and diverse cultural community. The 2016/17 Civic Partner program funding opens May 5 so mark your calendars now.


Carlos Bulosan Centennial Commemorated with Free Events

A broad coalition of educators, union activists, community organizers, and artists have organized a two-month-long series of free events to commemorate Carlos Bulosan’s 100th birthday and to cement his place in Seattle’s history. The events will share Bulosan’s history, artistic work and impact even today on contemporary social justice issues.

This project is funded in part by a Neighborhood Matching Fund award from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

As a radical labor organizer and author of the book “America is in the Heart,” Bulosan set the groundwork for Seattle’s rich history of labor activism and community organizing, from the Alaskeros and ILWU Local 37 activists to the fight for community preservation in the International District. The organizing committee aims to connect the events of the past with today’s civil rights, immigration, and labor movements.

Members of the Carlos Bulosan Centennial include: Filipino Community of Seattle, Wing Luke Museum, Inlandboatmen’s Union Region #37, Pinoy Words Expressed Kultura Arts, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, SEIU, University of Washington, LELO, Northwest Film Forum, and many more!

All events are free to the community! For more information and to RSVP for each event, contact

Derek Dizon at or (206) 353-5062.