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Seattle Arts Leadership Team (SALT): Encouraging a community of collaboration

What is arts administration? I mean, I know what it is, but it’s more exciting than it sounds. Leaving art school I wanted to figure out how to make my art and make a living at the same time. Along the way I found that supporting artists and their work was just as fulfilling as it was to be a practicing artist.

Elisheba Johnson HeadshotTo be an arts administrator you have to understand artists and be their advocate. You have to see the value of their practice reaching a broad audience and you have to be open to being moved by the creative and responsive things artists are doing. You are a bridge, a conduit, and a hustler.

Oh, by the way, did I say I am an artist? I say this because so many arts administrators are gallery owners who are artists, musicians who are promoters, dancers who have ballet schools and actors who run performance halls. Artists balance the creative aspect of their artistic practice while balancing a check book and writing grants. I want us to start talking about arts administration in a different way. To quote my friend Lara Davis, “It is really art facilitation.” Arts facilitators, whether new to the field, mid-career, or established could benefit from an incubator of sorts to learn how to better and grow the field. We also need to collectively decide what the Seattle “arts facilitation” field looks like. I joined the Americans for the Arts’ Emerging Leaders Council because I was craving professional development that is engaging, responsive and collaborative. It is an incredible program that connects emerging and established leaders in the arts field all across the country so we can learn from each other, create connections and advance the arts in all of our communities.

It works on a national level and Seattle has one of the largest arts communities in this country. But we don’t have a place, program or organization that nurtures our arts advocates, which includes for-profit, non-profit, artists, administrators, leaders, you name it. There is a thirst for this kind of opportunity, which is why a small group of dedicated arts lovers are coming together to create SALT, Seattle Arts Leadership Team. We are just getting started, but we know we will grow. Everyone who is interested is welcome. SALT will be an amazing resource for Seattle art facilitators and it will also connect us more strongly to the regional and national emerging leaders communities in Portland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

At the first meeting Lara Davis, from the Office of Arts & Culture and Nancy Chang from Reel Grrls will invite us to answer the question “Why we do the work” on Monday, July 27, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Frye Art Museum, RSVP here. Come and enjoy some interesting conversation and help us create SALT from the ground up. The possibilities are endless.