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Seattle Office of Arts & Culture celebrates 1% for Public Art

The opening of "The First 50 Years: Highlights from the Civic Collection” at the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture King Street Station Gallery on May 4, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. “Spotted in Seattle” by artist Agustina Forest also opened May 4th, 2023. By Marcus Donner © 2023

50 years, 4,064 artworks, over 1500 artists

50th Exhibition Celebration, Thursday, June 1, 2023,  
5-8 p.m.  ARTS at King Street Station 

Seattle, WA (June 1, 2023) – This year the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) is celebrating 50 years of the 1% for Art Program. Created in 1973, the City’s Public Art Program has shaped, defined, and contributed to the character of Seattle. When former Mayor Wes Ulman and the Seattle City Council created the program, they cited a city’s responsibility to expand the public’s experience with art, stating that art in public places enables people to better understand their communities and their lives. 

“Our vision for One Seattle is a city where the arts are ever present in every community, adding vibrancy and culture to our public spaces and reflecting our shared values of innovation, creativity, and inclusivity. The City’s forward-thinking 1% for Art ordinance, one of the first in the nation, is an ongoing investment in public art and has allowed countless residents, workers, and visitors to experience world-class art woven into the urban fabric of our city. We are proud to celebrate this milestone for Seattle’s 1% for Art program and share pieces from the City’s civic collection with the community.”

Mayor Bruce Harrell
By Marcus Donner © 2023

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the collection, ARTS has organized The First 50 Years: Highlights from the Civic Collection, 1973-2023 at ARTS at King Street Station. It encompasses 150 artworks highlighting the breadth and depth of the civic collection and regional artists. Artists in the exhibition include artists such as Humaira Abid, Natalie Ball, Marita Dingus, Jacob Lawrence, Sherry Markowitz, Jeffry Mitchell, Jake Prendez, Susan Point, Akio Takamori, Robert “Running Fisher” Upham, and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.  

Civic Art Collection 

The 1% for art ordinance established that all Capital Construction departments should include “an amount for works of art equal to at least one percent (1%) of the total cost of any such construction project.” Now in 2023, the 1% for Art Program encompasses the Civic Art Collection (400 permanently sited/integrated artworks and over 4,000 portable artworks); temporary art opportunities, a Waterfront for All art program, artist-in-residence programs, Public Art Plans for Capital Departments, galleries (ARTS at King Street Station, City Hall, Seattle Municipal Tower), and Public Art Boot Camp (a capacity building program for emerging artists).  

Seattle’s 1% for Art Program expanded the boundaries of what public art should be by integrating art and artists into the actual design of buildings. Seattle was the first city to utilize the Artist Design Team model integrating art building designs. Seattle also embedded artist-in-residence opportunities in capital construction departments which paved the way for design elements integrated in sidewalks, right of ways; and changing the way the city created the built environment. ARTS has created virtual galleries on Emuseum, an online resource that allows the public to view the collection virtually for increased accessibility.  

The Seattle 1% for Art Program is also committed to race and social justice and is expanding the field by increasing the diversity of artists that create public art. To foster the growth of the collection and the diversity of artists working in the field, ARTS pioneered a capacity-building program, Public Art Boot Camp, which provides training to artists who are ready to translate their studio art experiences to the public art realm.