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A message from Randy Engstrom, newly appointed director of Office of Arts & Culture

Randy EngstromSeattle has long been a city of creativity. From airplanes to the Space Needle to left-handed guitar players, we are a center of innovation. I believe arts and culture are a catalyst for this civic vibrance. With my recent confirmation as director of the Office of Arts & Culture, I look forward to supporting the creative ecology of our city.

Working with our partners at the school district, the Seattle Arts Commission and the Seattle Music Commission, and the Office of Film and Music, we will ensure that every student in Seattle Public Schools has access to an hour of music and and hour of visual art every week. We know that arts education is both a critical investment in our economic and cultural vitality and an issue of equity in our schools, where many students do not have access.

We also know that arts and culture can drive our local economy.  According to the Creative Vitality Index Report from 2011, our region saw 320 non-profit arts organizations generate more that $445 million dollars in revenue, with other creative industries generating another $494 million. Taken together those numbers also represent nearly 31,000 jobs.  Beyond their direct impact on our economy, arts and culture also create the vibrant and dynamic environment that helps us attract businesses both locally and globally.  Companies like Amazon and Starbucks continue to call Seattle home in part because of the quality of life that the arts can support.  This is also further evidence that we must prioritize our investment in arts education to ensure we will have a strong creative workforce and a healthy arts economy in the future. We look forward to working with our partners at the Office of Economic Development to leverage the success of our creative sector.

Arts and culture are more than objects in space and performance on a stage.  They help shape how we experience our landscape, activate our neighborhoods and parks and develop our young people.  Arts can often be the ‘how’ when we look do develop our city. From neighborhood planning to the central waterfront transformation, arts and culture can be a powerful tool to build community. We look forward to working with the Department of Planning and Development to shape policies grounded in creative placemaking that will ensure affordable space for arts and culture in every neighborhood.

All of these projects are exciting to me, especially ones that I’ve worked on for several years as chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. What excites me most however, is the opportunity to work with Seattle’s incredible arts and culture community. I am inspired daily by your passion, your innovation and the work you produce – whether it is a new work of public art, a staged production or something else all together. Thank you for all you do to make Seattle a city of creativity – it is an honor to represent you.

Here’s to a bright future.