In 2017, the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) invested $3 million to support more than 375 artists and cultural organizations, resulting in over 3,600 performances, events and exhibit days. An estimated 1.7 million people participated in programs funded by ARTS. Each of the eight granting programs' selection processes employed a peer panel review and a race and social justice lens.

Seattle Repertory Jazz Photo by Jim Levitt

Civic Partners

Hugo House, Image by David Wade

The Civic Partners program awards funding to arts, cultural, and heritage organizations in all disciplines that have a three-year history of serving Seattle residents and visitors, granting over $1.79M to 158 organizations. The City's investments create broad public access to a rich array of quality arts opportunities, while promoting a healthy and diverse cultural community.

ARTS is committed to ensuring that Seattle's arts and cultural organizations have the tools and trainings they need to remove barriers to participation and involve diverse cultures and underserved audiences and artists. Since 2016, ARTS has included a racial equity assessment in the Civic Partners grant application to help organizations examine their standing and progress towards creating a more inclusive, vibrant and sustainable cultural sector. ARTS prioritizes support for partners who value, implement and uphold inclusive practices through a racial equity lens.

Arts Means Business

Art Means Business, Photo by Caitlin S Cooper

The Arts Mean Business 2.0 funding program creates greater equity and inclusiveness in Seattle by funding pivotal arts jobs for arts, cultural and heritage organizations that serve under-represented communities. Through the program, five Seattle arts, heritage, cultural and arts-service organizations created and hired positions that positively impact their ability to sustainably carry out their missions, with awards ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. Organizations include Deaf Spotlight, Densho, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, Northwest African American Museum, and United Indians of All Tribes Foundation.

Neighborhood & Community Arts and Arts in Parks


In 2016 the Neighborhood & Community Arts program opened in conjunction with a new pilot program created in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, Put the Arts in Parks. Both grant programs support and encourage the vibrant cultural work being done in and by communities throughout Seattle.

NCA Polish Association, Photo by Mike Penney

The NCA program supports grassroots-level arts and cultural community-building by funding recurring festivals or events with awards of $1,200, In 2017, the NCA program granted $49,200 to 41 neighborhood arts festivals and events. One grantee, Families of Color Seattle, organized a four-day event series with the intent of cultivating a multicultural and multiracial community of families. Over 100 children, parents, and grandparents gathered to build connections, share culture intergenerationally, and participate in culturally-relevant arts activities. Another grantee, Iranian American Community Alliance, hosts the annual Seattle Iranian Festival which brings together dancers, musicians, and nonprofit organizations to celebrate the contribution of Iranian people throughout history. BEGO Ethiopian Art and Culture Organization‘s NCA award allowed them to compensate local artists and performers for their Ethiopian New Year's Eve event.

Arts in Parks (AIP)

Portraits in the Park, Photo by Jenny Crooks

AIP funded 36 events, series, and temporary art installations, providing $169,000 in support to community-based organizations and artists producing events in City parks. All events were free and open to the public.

smART Ventures

The Williams Project, Image by Bruce Clayton Tom

As a small awards program, smART ventures encourages innovation and broadens participation by communities that may not qualify for other funding programs. smART ventures provides support up to $1,000, proving that small investments can have big impacts. An average award of $738 was awarded to 66 recipients, a few of which include Odd Babes Productions, which produces comedy shows highlighting comics who are women, queer, allies, and people of color; Emily Curtiss and Kathreen Absuelo, whose multimedia show Iconic brought together visual art, dance, and music to uplift female artists; and Black Arts Love Summer Mixer & Marketplace, a free community art fair that brought together local performers, vendors, and entrepreneurs in celebration of African American culture.

GRANTEE PROFILE: Rita Meher, Tasveer (smart Ventures 2017)
Tasveer, Photo by Susmita Tantubay

Rita Meher is Executive Director of Tasveer, a Seattle-based nonprofit that elevates South Asian storytelling through art, film, and community dialogue to constructively address issues stereotypes of and prejudice against the South Asian community. Each year, Tasveer produces the South Asian Film Festival; the South Asian International Documentary Film Festival; and Aaina, a festival focusing on artistic work by and about South Asian women. "We do not compromise with our values and work ethics… We have to contribute to social justice, human rights issues, and program our events [with] some thought-provoking process or theme," said Meher. "We are still going on because of City of Seattle, [who] has always supported us from the beginning, big or small."

CityArtist Projects


In 2017, ARTS awarded over $157,000 to 37 individual artists through the CityArtist Projects annual funding program, supporting new works, works-in-progress, or works taken to the next stage.

GRANTEE PROFILE: Ivan Arteaga (City Artist 2017)
Ivan Arteaga, Image Courtesy the Artist

Ivan Arteaga is a teaching artist, performance artist, and composer who, as a recipient of a 2017 City Artist grant, produced a new score for an interdisciplinary concert ensemble featuring dancers, acoustic musicians, and a computer music artist. The piece, entitled Command Ensemble, uniquely incorporated accelerometer sensors attached to dancers' bodies, whose movements then electronically controlled music output. On receiving a City Artist grant, Arteaga said, "it really took [my] whole concept to a completely different level I wouldn't have been able to reach otherwise. It gave me time to work with a larger ensemble, [and the] opportunity to achieve a concept I'd had for a long time."

Youth Arts

MAP IT! (Youth Arts)

In addition to the above programs, the Youth Arts grant program supports youth engagement with the arts. Learn more in the Investing in the Future: Youth Development section.

Continue on to Creative Youth