City of Seattle

Ed Murray, Mayor


SUBJECT:   Mayor announces 2013 Mayor's Arts Awards recipients
7/1/2013  11:00:00 AM

Mayor announces 2013 Mayor's Arts Awards recipients
Mayor's Arts Awards ceremony will be on Friday, August 30 at 4 p.m.

SEATTLE - Mayor Mike McGinn today announced the recipients of the 2013 Mayor's Arts Awards. The honorees include two individuals and four organizations, and represent categories ranging from promoting arts as a means of social change to artistic excellence. The Seattle Arts Commission recommended the recipients from a pool of more than 600 public nominations, which was a new record. The Mayor's Arts Awards recognize the contributions of artists, arts and cultural organizations and community members who make Seattle a city of creativity.

"This year's award winners reflect the diversity of our city and the artistic excellence for which we have come to be known," said McGinn. "Seattle is a better place for having these excellent organizations and people living and working here."

The 2013 categories and honorees are:

  • Future Focus: 826 Seattle
  • Cultural Ambassador: Barbara Earl Thomas
  • Venture Culturalist: Frye Art Museum
  • Arts as the How: Pongo Teen Writing Project
  • Raising the Bar: Preston Singletary
  • Artistic City: Seattle Repertory Theatre

The recipients will be honored at the Mayor's Arts Awards ceremony, on Friday, August 30 at 4 p.m. at Seattle Center on the North Fountain Lawn, which is outdoor and open to the public. Presented in partnership with Bumbershoot, the awards ceremony is part of the official opening of Bumbershoot 2013 and a day of free activities that includes a public preview of the festival's visual arts exhibits beginning at 3 p.m. in the Seattle Center Pavilion and the Fisher Pavilion. After the awards ceremony, the School of Rock will give a free performance at 5:30 p.m. on the same North Fountain Lawn stage, and a preview of the festival's film offerings begins at 7 p.m. at the SIFF Film Center. The Mayor's Arts Awards are presented in partnership with media sponsor City Arts and event sponsors The Boeing Company and Chihuly Garden and Glass.

For more information about the Mayor's Arts Awards, including past recipients, visit

2013 Mayor's Arts Award recipients

826 Seattle
826 Seattle, working with about 3,000 students annually, is a writing and tutoring center that helps young people acquire and strengthen writing skills and express themselves through publishing opportunities. With the help of hundreds of trained volunteers, 826 Seattle offers writing workshops, support for teachers in classrooms, theatrical writing field trips and a vibrant afterschool tutoring program. At 826 Seattle, imagination is key, as is the belief that young people are more likely to grow into compassionate, successful adults if they possess the skill and confidence to share their stories. 826 Seattle inspires learning and creativity in a number of ways, starting with its whimsical storefront: The Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, complete with atomic teleporter entry into the writing center. This sense of wonder permeates all 826 Seattle programs. Opportunities to have their writing published in anthologies inspires students to do their best work. 

Barbara Earl Thomas
Barbara Thomas is a visual artist and a writer with a longstanding record as an arts administrator in the Northwest. She has overseen programs for the city of Seattle and the Northwest's largest arts festival, Bumbershoot. Currently she is the Major Gifts Officer of the Northwest African American Museum where she has served since 2008. Thomas has exhibited artwork consistently since 1982 and her work is included in several prestigious public and private collections including the city of Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Safeco and Microsoft. As an award-winning writer her essays have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, including What to Read in the Rain an 826 anthology, Raven Chronicles, Arcade Magazine, Gathering Ground, A Single Mother's Companion, Calyx, Intimate Nature: The Bonds Between Women and Animals, The Gift of Birds: True Encounters with Avian Spirits and Writing Down the River: Into the Heart of the Grand Canyon.

Frye Art Museum
The Frye Art Museum was founded in 1952 as the living legacy of Seattle philanthropists Charles and Emma Frye, who gifted their collection of European art to the people of Seattle in the belief that access should always be free and for all. In its desire to be deeply relevant to the diverse communities it serves, the Frye supports and presents the work of contemporary artists from Seattle and around the globe as well as historical exhibitions celebrating the enduring values of its Founding Collection. The Frye Art Museum's investment in the well-being of our cultural community inspired and is reflected in recent exhibitions which featured more than two hundred exceptional Seattle artists spanning generations and disciplines. One hundred and twenty years after Charles and Emma Frye first envisioned a public art museum in Seattle, the Frye is seeking to transform the role of the art museum in the twenty-first century.

Pongo Teen Writing Project is an 18-year-old Seattle nonprofit that facilitates personal poetry by distressed teens inside jails, homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites. The majority of Pongo's writers have suffered early childhood trauma, such as abuse and neglect. And this trauma affects the teens deeply, making it hard for them to express themselves. However, Pongo has developed its own teaching approach to help young people write about painful experiences - often for the first time - in a way that promotes insight and healing. Pongo has worked with over 6,000 teens, published 13 anthologies, given away 14,000 copies, and talked to over 10,000 Seattleites about the poetry and lives of our authors. In addition, Pongo is serving youth nationally and internationally through the writing activities on its web site, teacher trainings, an upcoming book on its methods, and ongoing research about the therapeutic power of creative expression.

Preston Singletary
The art of Preston Singletary has become synonymous with the relationship between European glass blowing traditions and Northwest Native art. His artworks feature themes of transformation, animal spirits and shamanism through elegant blown glass forms and mystical sand carved Tlingit designs.  Singletary learned the art of glass blowing by working with artists in the Seattle area, initially focusing on mastering the techniques of the European tradition.  He developed his signature style over the last 30 years, combining European techniques with Native American designs and forms to create pieces that are unmistakably his own. Recognized internationally, Singletary's artworks are included in museum collections such as The British Museum (London, UK), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), The Seattle Art Museum (Seattle WA), the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC). Singletary maintains an active schedule by teaching and lecturing internationally. 

Seattle Repertory Theatre
The Rep celebrates its 50th anniversary with the 2012-2013 season. The theatre was founded in 1963 and is led by artistic director Jerry Manning and managing director Benjamin Moore. One of America's premier nonprofit resident theatres, Seattle Repertory Theatre has achieved international renown for its consistently high production and artistic standards and was awarded the 1990 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. With an emphasis on entertaining plays of true dramatic and literary worth, Seattle Rep produces a season of plays along with educational programs, new play workshops and special presentations. Under Manning's leadership, the Rep has renewed its commitment to investing in Seattle playwrights and serving as an artistic home for the development and production of their work. Through the New Play Program, the Rep has commissioned, workshopped, and/or premiered works by Seattle writers Cheryl L. West, Robert Schenkkan, Elizabeth Heffron, Justin Huertas, Stephanie Timm, and many others.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture envisions a city driven by creativity that provides the opportunity for everyone to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences. They are supported by the 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council.

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Office of the Mayor