Racial Equity

ARTS invested deeply in organizations’ ability to move their own racial equity goals forward in 2015. In partnership with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, ARTS launched the first Turning Commitment into Action cohort. And then quickly followed with the second and the third cohorts in response to the demand.

Turning Commitment into Action

This year in conjunction with the Office for Civil Rights we launched the innovative program Turning Commitment into Action. The program offered a series of three cohorts for arts and culture organizations to receive the training and tools necessary to address barriers to racial equity within their organizations. In total 30 organizations went through more than 40 hours of intensive training and hours of homework to develop racial equity plans for their organizations, creating the building blocks for a more racially just and equitable arts community.


Continuing our partnership with 4Culture and Artist Trust on ARTISTS UP in 2015, the Office of Arts and Culture helped launch the ARTISTS UP report, Learning from Artists: Four Focus Groups. ARTISTS UP (AU) is an initiative to better serve all artists throughout Seattle, King County and Washington State. The report reflects on four artist focus groups organized by AU between July 2013 and April 2015. The intent was to hear directly from artists of color because they have historically had the least access. These focus groups consisted of more than forty artists who explored issues, concerns and barriers related to artist support in Seattle, King County and Washington State. Their input has been invaluable in helping to create better access for all artists.

The findings and recommendations from the four groups illuminates key areas for action, and core themes that bridge the concerns and perspectives of the artists convened:

We are eager to continue to engage deeply with artists of color and other under-represented communities as we refine the work we do and how we reach the residents of Seattle.

Trainings and Workshops

Over the course of 2015, the Office of Arts & Culture also held a variety of training sessions for the cultural community around the topic of racial equity. A lecture by Shaki Butler at the Seattle Public Library attracted nearly 100 people, and a series of more intimate trainings with trainer Robin DiAngelo explored the concept of White Fragility, and how to address a culture of whiteness.

Kathy Hsieh honored with Community Voice Award

This year, Kathy Hsieh, the Office of Arts & Culture’s Cultural Partnerships Program Manager, was honored with the Arts Award from the International Examiner’s Community Voice Awards. The Community Voice Awards honor exceptional leaders who inspire and provide incredible service to our communities. Hsieh was honored for being a leader for her work in increasing City funding for under-represented communities, creating visibility and opportunities for Asian American artists, as well as educating and empowering emerging artists. We’re so proud to have Kathy as a member of our team!

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