Mayor's Arts Award

In August 2017, the Mayor's Arts Awards recognized the accomplishments of artists, arts and cultural organizations and community members committed to enriching their communities through the arts. Twelve finalists were selected from a pool of over 160 public nominations.

2017 Recipients

Cultural Ambassador Individual Award: Assunta Ng Mayor's Award
Assunta Ng, Photo by Marcus Donner

Assunta Ng is the founder and publisher of the Seattle Chinese Post and Northwest Asian Weekly, bringing news written by and for Asian communities for over 35 years. Her award-winning newspapers have been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for strength in content. Ng has also established several community projects and organizations including the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation, an organization that designs leadership, community-building, and diversity training programs for youth and adults, as well as the Women of Color Empowered luncheon series.

Cultural Ambassador Organization Award: Seattle Music Partners Mayor's Award
Seattle Music Partners, Photo by Marcus Donner

Seattle Music Partners cultivates a diverse and vibrant music-making community by providing youth with free music instruction and one-on-one mentoring. Through this unique combination of private instruction, mentorship, and collaborative ensemble experiences, SMP seeks to eliminate racial and economic barriers to quality music education. SMP hosts after-school programs two days a week at four elementary schools in the Central District, as well as an evening program for middle school musicians. Instruments, music books, music stands, and transportation are provided free of charge to participating students. SMP believes that the bonds formed through these musical relationships are fundamental to social change.

Arts & Innovation Award: Courtney Sheehan, Northwest Film Forum Mayor's Award
Courtney Sheehan, Northwest Film Festival, Photo by Marcus Donner

Co-founder of Cine Migratorio, a migration-themed film festival in Spain, and the Seventh Art Stand, a national series of films from the countries and people affected by the travel bans, Courtney Sheehan strives to build coalition through her work with film and media. Courtney is the executive director for Northwest Film Forum, the nonprofit film and arts center founded in 1995 and located in the Pike/Pine corridor of Capitol Hill. The Forum presents hundreds of films, community events, multidisciplinary performances, public discussions and workshops each year. In addition to producing the largest children's film festival on the West Coast, the Forum offers a range of artist services and hosts fundraisers for community initiatives and nonprofits. Courtney has also curated and produced film programs for theaters and festivals on three continents. As a journalist, she covered events ranging from the world's largest documentary festival to South America's largest animation festival.

Emerging Leader in the Field: Leilani Lewis Mayor's Award
Leilani Lewis, Photo by Marcus Donner

For Leilani Lewis, a career in the arts was inevitable: as a child, she spent countless hours exploring the Detroit Institute of Art, which instilled in her a reverence for the works, the artists, and the hallowed halls that housed them. Much later, this passion led her to the Northwest African American Museum shortly before its opening in 2008. Since then, Leilani, now at the University of Washington, has become a true homegrown leader who collaborates with artists of all disciplines to build community and provide opportunities for the public to engage with the arts. Through museum work and independent projects, Leilani established herself as a creative catalyst working on behalf of artists. Whether through independent curation, arts programming, advising, or just showing up, Leilani focuses on breaking down barriers to arts appreciation, strengthening the bonds that draw communities together, and giving her all to ensure a culturally vibrant future for the Northwest.

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