The Office of Arts & Culture invested $2.7 million to support more than 375 individual artists and cultural organizations in 2015 supporting more than 3,600 performances, events and exhibit days which served an audience of 1.7 million participants. Each of the eight granting programs utilizes a peer panel review and employs a race and social justice lens in the selection process.

Civic Partners

31st Annual "East Meets West" Concert from the Chinese Arts & Music Association. Photo: Haibin Sun

The Civic Partners program awards funding to arts and cultural and heritage organizations in all disciplines with a history of serving Seattle residents and visitors. The City's investment is aimed at creating broad public access to a rich array of quality arts opportunities while promoting a healthy and inclusive cultural community. We partner with arts and cultural organizations to become anti-racist collaborators in creating a more vibrant, sustainable, and racially equitable cultural sector, that provides relevant arts opportunities for all the people who live in, work and visit Seattle.

Carlos Nieto shares his slam poetry at a Totem Star program. Photo: Daniel Pak

One of our current Civic Partners is Khambatta Dance Company. Khambatta Dance Company is a six member dance group led by Cyrus Khambatta celebrating 25 years of making dance in 2015. It has consistently fulfilled its mission to bring communities together and to offer dance to the broadest possible audience by performing both regionally/internationally – in places such as Brazil, Mexico, India, Montana, Oregon and Eastern Washington in the last year alone, and presenting hundreds of local, national and international artists to Seattle audiences of nearly 5,000 annually through The Seattle International Dance Festival.

Arts Mean Business


The Arts Mean Business 2.0 funding program creates greater racial equity and inclusiveness in Seattle by funding pivotal arts jobs for arts, cultural and heritage organizations that are led by and serve historically under-resourced communities – immigrant, people of color, and those with physical disabilities. Through the multi-year program, six Seattle arts, heritage, cultural and arts-service organizations have increased staff capacity to carry out their missions in meaningful ways. Organizations include Deaf Spotlight, Densho, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, Northwest African American Museum, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and Wing Luke Asian Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

Cultural Facilities

Washington Hall renovations were funded throught he Cultural Facilities grant program

Cultural Facilities supports facility renovations or the completion of the final phase of new facilities for Seattle-based arts, heritage, cultural and arts service organizations. A total of $250,000 was distributed to fifteen organizations in 2015, providing funding ranging from $1,850 to $32,500 for projects such as The Chong Wa Education Society to increase accessibility to their historic 1929 facility by constructing an ADA compliant restroom on the first floor and upgrading staircases to the auditorium; El Centro de la Raza to construct a 6,000 square foot multi-cultural community center, which will connect with a public plaza that will provide space for a variety of cultural opportunities for the Beacon Hill neighborhood; and Washington State Jewish Historical Society to make their vision of a new Exhibit Gallery a reality. The funding will go towards design planning and implementation of a security system, display system and museum preservation protocols.

Neighborhood & Community Arts

Folklore Mexicano Tonantzin gave a brilliant performance of various traditional Mexican dances at El Centro de la Raza’s Cinco de Mayo event. Photo: Renee Jewel

The Neighborhood & Community Arts funding awards supported 40 neighborhood arts festivals and events in 2015. The program invested $48,000 ($1,200 per organization) The varied slate of community events includes the Seafair Indian Day Powwow, an event that celebrates Native American culture through dance, music and food; the 206 Zulu Anniversary, a three-day national hip hop summit celebrating some of the community’s best artists, musicians and dancers; Spirit of West Africa, the 10th anniversary of a festival showcasing the creativity of peoples of West African origin and descent through music and dance; and the Chinese New Year Concert, a Cantonese opera presented by Luck Ngi Club, one of the oldest Chinese Opera clubs in the U.S.

Japan Booth at the Foundation for International Understanding Seattle’s CulturalFest; Photo: Harry Lian

smART Ventures

A troupe of actors presents at the Ethnic Cultural Theater; Photo: Tanya Izadora Photography

As a small awards program, smARTVentures 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. A few of the 2015 smART ventures partners include Echoes of a Lifetime, in which the artist Savithri Dani intervieweed members of the Wallingford Senior Center and painted their portraits; in.dig.e.nize, in which photographer Mel Ponder displayed original portraits of Indigenous people living in Seattle at the Daybreak Star Center; and Visioning Creative Resistance, in which Voices Rising created a community space for artists of color from all disciplines to dialogue about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Infinity Box Theatre presents "Anomie" by Courtney Meaker; Photo: Roy Arauz

CityArtist Projects

Samantha Boshnack’s Global Concertos, Concerto for Jazz Trumpet - B’shnorkestra with Thomas Marriott; Photo: Ian Lucero

More than $160,000 in awards to 39 individual artists working in dance, music and theatre arts were presented through the CityArtist Projects annual funding program, which assists Seattle artists in developing and presenting their work. The program, which supports new works, works-in-progress, or works taken to the next stage, received about 130 applications. Nearly 40% of the awards, up to $8,000 each, will go to first-time recipients. Awardees in 2015 include Desdemona Chiang, who produced a new bilingual ASL/English play about the intersection of hearing and Deaf culture and the controversy over cochlear implants featuring a mixed ensemble of Deaf and hearing actors; Alice Gosti, who created a dance performance that brings politics and history to the foreground with questions of identity, community and where art belongs; Alex Guy, who will compose, record and mix a musical score for a feature length documentary about immigration and belonging; and Mirta Wymerszberg, who will recreate and perform a children's theatrical work about 'el contador de cuentos,” the storyeller of ancient Latin American children stories and songs.

Wearable sculpture by PK Pauper; Photo: Martin Ranger

Work Readiness Arts Program & Youth Arts

MAP IT! (WRAP)MAP IT! (Youth Arts)

In addition to the above programs, there are two additional funding programs that support youth engagement with the arts: the Work Readiness Arts Program (WRAP) and Youth Arts. Find out more in the Investing in the Future: Youth Development section.

Pratt Fine Arts Center presents teen glassblowing students; Photo: Myra Kaha Continue on to Creative Youth