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News Release: Newly founded LANGSTON to strengthen Black arts and culture in Seattle

New non-profit arts organization announces formation and Board of Directors  

SEATTLE (June 30, 2016) — The Office of Arts & Culture is pleased to announce the founding of LANGSTON, an independent non-profit arts organization based in the heart of Seattle’s Central Area. LANGSTON’s mission is to strengthen and advance community through Black arts and culture. With a vision to cultivate Black brilliance, LANGSTON will launch its inaugural season in the fall of 2016, at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S., under the leadership of its founding board of directors, community advisors, and arts champions.

LANGSTON’s founding board of directors includes:

  • Inye Wokoma, Ijo Arts Media Group (Chair)
  • Sheley Secrest, NAACP (Treasurer)
  • David Harmon, Olio Development Design Strategies (Secretary)
  • Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Frye Art Museum
  • Randy Engstrom, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Ex-Officio
  • Terri Hiroshima, University of Washington
  • Vivian Phillips, Seattle Theatre Group
  • Andrew Russell, Intiman Theatre
  • Sharon N. Williams, CD Forum

To ensure long-term stability and success, the LANGSTON Board of Directors has spent the first two quarters of this year establishing a strong foundation and creating strong financial and programmatic infrastructures. Additionally, dedicated focus has been placed on securing dynamic leadership for the organization by launching a national search for the new organization’s first Executive Director.

The LANGSTON founding Board will support artistry that breaks molds and challenges both artistic and cultural traditions. In service to the cultivation of Black brilliance, LANGSTON will engage, nurture, and support a wide range of local and national artists to share distinct artistry and build relationships and connections to the creative processes. Programming will occur year-round and serve multi-generational audiences and participants.

LANGSTON will be located within Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute’s (LHPAI) historic building. The current LHPAI staff will continue to work for Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture to manage building rentals, support rental programs, and maintain the building and associated property. Highly regarded signature programs of LHPAI, such as the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival and Teen Summer Musical, will continue in 2016. Additional programs, festivals, and artist development will be announced at an open community welcome event in August. LANGSTON will hire a contracted Program Manager in August to carry forward their initial programming while the search is conducted for a new Executive Director.  Details about the Program Manager position can be found at

LANGSTON was created in December of 2015 in response to both the community and City’s desire to establish an independent nonprofit that was community driven and committed to the historic mission of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, a former program of the City’s Parks Department and Office of Arts & Culture. After a three-year review and engagement process, LANGSTON was founded and designed specifically to serve as the hub for African American arts and culture in Seattle.

“LANGSTON is an exciting and necessary addition to the arts ecosystem in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest,” said LANGSTON Board Chair, Inye Wokoma. “It will expand and evolve the boundaries and experiences of African American artistry and Blackness, while creating pathways for accessing African American arts, culture, and community. LANGSTON will contribute to the depth, value, and diversity of Seattle as a world-class city for the arts and artists.” Wokoma is joined by all members of the new board in articulating a commitment to creating a LANGSTON that serves in ways that matter most to the community.

For more information about LANGSTON, visit our website, or email


LANGSTON is a newly formed, community conceived and designed nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to strengthen and advance community through Black arts and culture in service to cultivating Black brilliance. It provides multigenerational, multi-genre programming that is responsive to community needs and desires. LANGSTON will promote artistic expression, encourage artistic excellence, cultivate leaders, practice radical inclusivity, and facilitate cultural education and possibility in our practices, policies, and partnerships.