Creative Youth

Art has the capacity to change the way we understand ourselves and the people around us; art expands perspectives and leads the way to a richer appreciation of our community and our role within that community. In order to give young people the tools they need to succeed in school, life, and our City, we must invest in their creativity. We do this by ensuring that arts opportunities will be available to every student at every school in Seattle through our arts education initiative, The Creative Advantage. We also invest in arts training outside of the classroom, both during the school year and in the summer, through the Youth Arts and Work Readiness Arts Program (WRAP) grant programs. Inclusiveness is at the heart of the Office’s youth development programs, because the data shows that inaccessibility is based on race and class. We must ensure these fundamental opportunities are accessible to everybody as a matter of equity. Investing in our youth is an investment in Seattle’s future.

The Creative Advantage Arts Education Collaboration

The Creative Advantage is a unique public-private partnership between the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and The Seattle Foundation. It is reinvesting in Seattle's students and our community's economic and creative future by addressing inequities in access to the arts and restoring arts education to all Seattle classrooms.

The Creative Advantage brings more arts into the school day, like this Pacific Northwest Ballet experience; Photo: Joseph Lambert

The Creative Advantage operates under a set of goals that every student in every school should receive:

  1. Culturally relevant arts instruction building sequential arts skills. It has been shown that arts instruction helps develop students 21st century skills leading to creativity, critical thinking, communications, collaboration, growth mindset and perseverance.
  2. Instruction from certified arts teachers. Research has found that students who had instruction from arts teachers were more likely to meet state arts standards than those who received instruction from a non-arts teacher.
  3. Integrated arts instruction. Integrated arts learning is an approach to teaching and learning in which students engage in a creative process that connects an art form with another subject to promote deeper learning.
  4. Arts partnerships with community-based organizations and teaching artists. Partnerships increase student engagement in the arts, build bridges between schools and the arts community and broaden students’ experiences in the arts.
  5. Opportunities to connect arts to careers in high school. Arts are key to students’ academic development and students’ growth into creative adults and thoughtful, engaged citizens.

The Creative Advantage can be found online at, at and on twitter @SeattleArtsEd.

Music Career Day

Panelists shared career advice and recommendations with students considering futures in music and creative industries; Photo: Brady Harvey

Music Career Day and Career Day Roadshows provides a direct connection for students to learn about the diverse opportunities and career pathways available in the music industry. City of Music Career Day is free to high school and college students, ages 16-24, and is designed to give participants direct access to music industry professionals through networking, experiential learning, engaging workshops, and performance. Participants are exposed to a wide range of music-related careers including performance, management, concert production, non-profit management, record label operations, retail, licensing, journalism, broadcasting, gaming, and more. Produced in partnership with Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Music Commission, Office of Film + Music, Seattle Arts Commission and Office of Arts & Culture.

Youth Arts

Youth Arts funds teaching artists and organizations providing out-of-school arts training. In 2015, Youth Arts awarded nearly $200,000 to more than 30 programs. This year's funded Youth Arts programs include a workshop led by Emily Korson and two other artists featuring visual arts and literature that will explore the themes of destruction and repair, culminating with an exhibit of completed manuscripts and artwork; the Seattle Globalist will host workshops on research, reporting and publishing for refugee and immigrant teens to create and share their own work for a public showcase; and the Somali Community Services of Seattle will offer teens multi-disciplinary art classes to showcase traditional Somali art forms, based on Somali films and family interviews.

Work Readiness Arts Program

The Work Readiness Arts Program (or WRAP) funded nine organizations providing out-of-school programming linking arts learning and work experiences for Seattle youth ages 14 to 18. The program is a partnership with Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. This year's funded WRAP programs include the Na'ah Illahee Fund, offering a four-week summer internship for youth in the Southwest neighborhoods to build their creative writing, videography and 21st century skills; El Centro de la Raza will work with youth from the Southeast networks to develop individual art pieces as well as a group mural and final event to share their work with the community; and Sawhorse Revolution will pair youth with professional artists and contractors to work as an independent contracting company tasked with creating a beautiful, mobile home for the Nickelsville community.

Teen Summer Musical

The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) and Seattle Parks and Recreation were pleased to present the Teen Summer Musical, Snow White and the Seven: “Each One, Teach One,” featuring 80 youth ranging from seven to 18 years old. Set in both America and Africa and inspired by the fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven: “Each One, Teach One,” follows an African-American girl determined to make a connection with her traditional heritage. Her journey takes many turns, wonderful and worrisome, as she discovers the beauty of herself and her African homeland. The show was rehearsed at LHPAI and is an original play written and directed by Isiah Anderson, Jr., of Seattle Parks and Recreation. The original music was written by renowned Seattle singer/songwriter Michelle Lang who engages creative materials from her R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Gospel roots, with traditional African genres. Professional dancer/choreographer Tyrone Crosby brings an innovative blend of dance styles to the show’s choreography.

The popular Teen Summer Musical is a significant and engaging performing arts production that, since its inception in 1996, has served more than 1,700 culturally diverse youth and provided inspiring performances to over 70,000 audience members. The Teen Summer Musical is a testament to the power the arts can have on opening doors of discovery for young people. These productions have allowed aspiring artists of color the opportunity to star in roles that showcase their culture and talent. One of the summer musical’s greatest benefits is that young people of diverse backgrounds are empowered to develop personal discipline, confidence, motivation, and creativity while experiencing a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose and pride.

Freshest Roots Open Mic

Freshest Roots is an organization established to connect youth to their roots through music and art, while spreading awareness of culture and social issues, spurring creativity and positive energy and celebrating diversity. In partnership with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, Freshest Roots presents Expresso Open Mic on the first Friday of the month, with poets, vocalists, rappers, dancers and comedians. Expresso Open Mics are responsive to current events and social justice issues.

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