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Message from the director: Ringing in 2013

Randy Engstrom

As our office begins the new year, we are excited about our work plan for 2013. In October we launched a survey for all of our constituents. With more than 600 responses, our areas of focus were clearly defined. One of the top issues was a desire for an increased concentration on arts education. We have been working with Seattle Public Schools and dozens of community partners on an arts plan funded by the Wallace Foundation. Building on our partnership of more than five years with the district, the K-12 Arts Plan seeks to ensure two hours of arts education instruction for every student in every school—all 48,000 of them. We’ll begin implementing part of the plan in 2013, with our office acting as the connector between schools and community-based organizations, making partnerships more streamlined for both. We’re excited to be expanding our work in arts education, an area so crucial to the future of our industry.

Another area of focus that emerged was the issue of affordable cultural space. From the sale of the Oddfellows building in 2008 to loss of 619 Western last winter, Seattle’s cultural community has long sought a program that could help to preserve affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations. In 2013 we will be hiring a cultural space liaison, and working with the Seattle Arts Commission and 4Culture, will develop a cultural facilities program that can meet the needs of our community. Two specific areas of focus will be on match-making between available spaces and those who need it and technical assistance around land use, code, zoning and incentive polices. Stay tuned for the job opening coming this spring.

A third area of focus will be on professional development and capacity building for the arts and culture community. While our funding programs will continue (check out our 2013 funding deadlines here), we are also seeking new ways to support our community beyond grant-making. This could include supporting emerging leadership, finding ways to help mid-sized organizations, reaching out to rising public artists, and offering workshops on race and social justice, among other things. We will focus on technical assistance in 2013. Do you have ideas on what would be most useful? We’d love to hear it. Please drop me a line.

We are also excited to welcome a new branch of our office—the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI). This new name (formerly the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center) and new home are the beginning of a new movement. We look forward to supporting and amplifying LHPAI’s important programming, and also look forward to partnering with Langston Hughes staff, Seattle Arts Commissioners, and community stakeholders to develop an action plan that will ensure long-term sustainability. In the near-term, look for LHPAI’s new website to launch later this month.

It is sure to be a busy and exciting 2013, and we look forward to working with all of you! Thank you for your continued support and please stay in touch.


Randy Engstrom
Interim Director