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Mayor Jenny Durkan announces the departure of Randy Engstrom from the Office of Arts & Culture

Durkan honors Engstrom’s innovative leadership of ARTS 

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced the resignation of the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) Department’s Director Randy Engstrom, who will turn his attention to teaching, advocating for national cultural policies, and spending time with his family, after leading the department for eight years. Mayor Durkan announced the appointment of Interim Acting Director Calandra Childers until a successor has been appointed. 

The 2018 Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s (ARTS) Mayor’s Arts Awards. Photo by Marcus R. Donner © 2018

“Randy has always been such a dedicated and passionate advocate for arts in our city, and under his leadership, the City supported countless nonprofits, artists, and cultural organizations, created a new home at King Street Station and new cultural districts across the city, and supported relief for artists and nonprofits in this immensely challenging year. The Office of Arts & Culture is at the forefront of the creative economy, pushes to invest in our Black, Indigenous and People of color communities, and continues to lead one the nation’s most innovative public art programs. In the coming year, their work will be central as we commit ourselves to an equitable recovery from COVID-19 that centers our most vulnerable communities, including our workers and artists who have lost so much during COVID-19.” 

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan

“It has been the honor of my career to lead the Office of Arts & Culture for the past eight years. To every artist and cultural worker in Seattle and the vast, brilliant, and resilient cultural sector in our region; you are the center of all of the work we do. As our city entered the myriad of crises that defined 2020 – COVID, economic collapse, and racial justice reckoning, I am proud to be part of the Durkan administration which seeks to re-imagine the way we do our work as a government. I am humbled and hopeful that the city may co-create a more equitable, creative and sustainable city for future generations.” 

Randy Engstrom

In his eight years at ARTS Engstrom has overseen a number of initiatives including: 

  • Continuing to push established and emerging programs to reflect the City’s commitment to racial equity
  •  Working to establish the Cultural Space Agency, the first cultural space affordability and anti-displacement program in the country. 
  • Facilitating a community informed roadmap for a more equitable creative economy, which will center Seattle’s creative and cultural community in its recovery and reimagination post COVID.  
  • Opening ARTS at King Street Station, a community-led exhibition space in King Street Station, opening with yəhaw’ an exhibition that featured more than 100 indigenous creatives. 
  • Launching and implementing The Creative Advantage, ARTS’ comprehensive partnership with Seattle Public Schools to restore arts education to every student in the District. 
  • Establishing ARTS as a national model on the strength of its staff, from a relentlessly innovative cultural investment team to an award-winning public art program

Mayor Durkan announced that Calandra Childers will serve as Interim Acting Director, effective February 1, 2021. Childers, who joined ARTS in 2012, currently serves as the Deputy Director. Mayor Durkan will announce the next steps for a permanent leader of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture in 2021.