Mayor's Arts Awards

The Mayor's Arts Awards recognize the accomplishments of artists, arts and cultural organizations and community members committed to enriching their communities through the arts.

Information
Office of Arts & Culture

Awards will be presented in the following categories.

  • Cultural Ambassador: Awarded to an individual who has significantly contributed to Seattle's arts and cultural community and raised the visibility of Seattle's arts culture. May include exemplary work across disciplines (as an artist or as an administrator) as well as advocating for and promoting the value of arts and culture. Open to individuals.
  • Arts & Innovation: Awarded for originality, ingenuity, and resourcefulness within the creative sector. Can include organizations or individuals whose current projects weave arts and technology together. Open to individuals and organizations.
  • Philanthropy Award:  Recognizing an individual or organization that has generously contributed to the arts and cultural field through grant making, donations or other investments. Open to individuals and organizations. New category.
  • Legacy Award: Recognizing an individual or organization with a rich and enlightening career in the arts. This individual or organization may be celebrating a milestone anniversary, or capping off a long career in the field, whose contributions have made for a more vibrant city. Open to individuals and organizations. New category.

The Seattle Arts Commission will review public nominations and recommend recipients to the mayor for final selection. Last year more than 400 nominations were received.

Save the Date

Mayor Murray will honor recipients of the 2016 Mayor's Arts Awards at a public ceremony at Seattle Center, Friday, September 2.
The event is free and open to the public.

Watch the 2015 Awards Ceremony
Past Recipients

2015 Recipients

  • Dr. Robin K. Wright - Cultural Ambassador

    Dr. Robin K. Wright is an expert on the Native arts of the Pacific Northwest. She has taught art history at the University of Washington and served as Curator of Native American Art at the Burke Museum since 1985. Since 2003, she has directed the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art, a learning center dedicated to increasing Native and public access to research resources and fostering appreciation and understanding of Native art of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

  • Akio Takamori - Arts & Innovation

    Takamori, Akio (born 1950, Nobeoka, Japan; lives in Seattle) studied at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo before apprenticing with a traditional folk potter in Koishiwara, Japan. He came to the United States in 1974. Takamori studied at Kansas City Art Institute, receiving his BFA in 1976 and earned his MFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1978. His work is represented in many public collections, including the Seattle Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nelson-Adkins Museum of Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK. Takamori was awarded National Endowments for the Arts grants in 1986, 1988, and 1992. In 2001 he was awarded the Virginia A. Groot Foundation grant and in 2006 he received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. In 2011 he was awarded a USA Ford Fellowship. Takamori is professor emeritus at the University of Washington.

  • Densho - Cultural Preservation

    Densho is a digital, public history organization. They work to preserve and share stories of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II by recording firsthand accounts, digitizing historical images and documents, and developing classroom resources. They make these materials available to the public for free so that they can be used to explore issues of democracy, intolerance, wartime hysteria, civil rights, and the responsibilities of citizenship in our increasingly global society. They encourage use of these resources to expand awareness of our country's diverse history, to stimulate critical thinking, to develop ethical decision-making skills, and to help ensure that democratic principles are upheld now and in the future. Densho's work is nationally acclaimed with awards from the American Library Association, Society of American Archivists, and the Oral History Association.

  • Seattle JazzED - Future Focus

    Seattle JazzED empowers students of all skill levels and backgrounds to realize their full potential through exceptional music education. We were founded on the belief that this education should be accessible to all students, regardless of ability to pay. As a result, any student can get financial aid for any program at JazzED. Seattle JazzED programs include big band ensembles, master classes, workshops and summer camps, and we are known for innovative educational initiatives like the New Works Ensemble, Girls Ellington Project and Summer Jazz Ambassadors. Along with musical skills, JazzED students learn the values of discipline, focus and teamwork. JazzED also develops citizenship by providing students with opportunities to perform, volunteer and mentor in the broader community. Our goal is to instill a set of values in every child that makes them not only a successful musician but a successful human being.

  • Daniel Brown - Creative Industries

    Daniel James Brown taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before becoming a technical editor at Microsoft. He now writes narrative nonfiction books full time. His primary interest as a writer is in bringing historical events vividly and accurately to life on the page. Daniel's most recent book—The Boys in the Boat—has spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. The Boys in the Boat was the ABA's 2014 "Indie's Choice" nonfiction book of the year and won the 2014 Washington State Book Award in nonfiction. His two previous books—Under a Flaming Sky and The Indifferent Stars Above—were also finalists for the Washington State Book Award. Daniel lives in the country outside of Seattle with his wife, two daughters, and an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, and honeybees. When he is not writing, he is likely to be birding, gardening, fly-fishing, reading, or chasing bears away from the beehives.

2014 Recipients

  • Alan Chong Lau

    Alan Chong Lau is a poet, painter, editor and sometimes curator and coordinator of arts events. As a poet, his work is represented by publications in numerous anthologies as well as individual titles such as "Songs For Jadina" which won a Before Columbus Award and "Blues and Greens - A Produce Worker's Journal." As a visual artist he has shown in Seattle since the early 1980s represented by Francine Seders Gallery until her recent retirement. He is also the Arts Editor for the International Examiner, a Seattle-based Asian American community newspaper. He believes that the arts play a vital role in society and through his various occupations facilitates culture throughout Seattle. He is a freelance coordinator and curator around town, creating "pop-up" arts events and shows in venues as diverse as Wing Luke Asian Museum, Kobo at Higo's, Elliott Bay Book Company and the M. Rosetta Hunter Art Gallery.

  • MOHAI & Leonard Garfield

    MOHAI has grown to become the largest private heritage organization in Washington State and attracts more than 200,000 visitors annually. MOHAI is dedicated to enriching lives through preserving, sharing and teaching the diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound region and the nation. The museum engages communities through interactive exhibits, online resources, and award-winning public and youth education programs. Executive director Leonard Garfield directs all activities at the museum, working with the Board of Trustees, MOHAI staff and the community to ensure MOHAI achieves its mission. Mr. Garfield holds a M.A. degree in American Culture from the University of Michigan and has more than 25 years' experience managing regional cultural organizations, including 15 years as executive director at MOHAI and six years as executive director of the King County Office of Cultural Resources (now 4Culture). In February 2014, Garfield was one of Seattle Business Magazine's Executive Excellence Award recipients.

  • Path with Art

    Path with Art transforms the lives of adults in recovery from homelessness, addiction and other trauma by providing opportunities for in-depth arts engagement and positive community connection. Since 2007, Path with Art has helped students find their voice through the power of artistic expression. Today, the organization partners with 28 social service partners such as Plymouth Housing Group, Recovery Café, and Harborview Medical Center to offer 30 eight-week studio art classes taught by professional teaching artists across 18 disciplines. Through its Access Art program, Path with Art collaborates with leading arts organizations, to connect participants to arts and cultural events throughout the city. Quarterly art exhibitions and showcases invite the broader community to engage with students through their art and individual stories, fostering a dialogue about the issues surrounding homelessness and recovery, seeing individuals beyond the lens of statistics.

  • Snoqualmie Indian Tribe

    The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Known as the People of the Moon, Snoqualmie Tribal members were signatories of the Treaty of Point Elliot of 1855. The Tribe owns and operates the Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie, WA. To date, the Tribe has donated over $4 million dollars to non-profit organizations located in Washington State. Over fifty arts and culture organizations including the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle International Film Festival, the Genius Awards, Seattle Symphony, Pacific Northwest Ballet, EMP, Vera Project, Seattle Children's Theatre, and Longhouse Media have received donations from the Snoqualmie Tribe. The Tribe seeks to support these and other exemplary arts organizations in the Puget Sound area and collaborate with them to expand open access programming that allows underserved communities the opportunity to enjoy these regional treasures.

  • Stephen Stubbs

    After a thirty-year career in Europe, Stephen Stubbs returned to his native Seattle in 2006 as one of the world's most respected lutenists, conductors, and baroque opera specialists. Previously, he was based in Bremen, Germany, as Professor at the Hochschule für Künste and director of Tragicomedia, which toured worldwide and recorded numerous CDs. Stubbs is the permanent artistic co-director of the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF). With his colleague Paul O'Dette, Stephen directs all BEMF operas and recordings, three of which were nominated for Grammy awards. In 2007 Stephen founded Pacific MusicWorks in Seattle, reflecting his lifelong interest in early music and contemporary performance. Other recent appearances include Gluck's Orfeo in Bilbao, Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte in Hawaii, and Handel's Messiah with the Seattle Symphony. His discography includes well over 100 CDs. In 2013, Stephen was appointed Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Music.

  • Teen Tix

    Since 2004, TeenTix has been the central office of a community-wide effort to engage young people in civic life through the arts. The organization believes that arts institutions have a crucial role to play in building better futures for the youth in our community, and as such, they provide teens with tools to become empowered arts audiences, critics, leaders, and influencers. With a consortium of 54 regional arts-presenting organizations, TeenTix has facilitated the sale of over 45,000 $5 arts tickets to teens over the past decade. Members of the TeenTix Press Corps have written over 400 arts reviews for the TeenTix Blog, the region's best source of teen-centric arts coverage. Graduates of their arts leadership training program, The New Guard, have gone on to take up positions in arts, culture, and civic organizations both locally and nationally. Their vision of a healthy community includes diverse civic leaders who value, support and participate in a thriving arts community.

2013 Recipients

  • 826 Seattle

    Video Profile

    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.

    City Arts Profile

  • Barbara Earl Thomas

    Video Profile

    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.

    City Arts Profile

  • Frye Art Museum

    Video Profile

    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.

    City Arts Profile

  • Pongo Teen Writing Project

    Video Profile

    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.

    City Arts Profile

  • Preston Singletary

    Video Profile

    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.

    City Arts Profile

  • Seattle Repertory Theatre

    Video Profile

    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.

    City Arts Profile

2012 Recipients

  • Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio

    Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio engages people from all walks of life in cultivating audacity of spirit through the practice of theater. A creative haven since 1991, Freehold is a thriving collective of artists, teachers and students collaborating to explore both the mind and the heart. Through education, experimentation and performance, Freehold works toward a theater practice that illuminates the human condition and serves the full, diverse spectrum of the theater community. Freehold provides a place that nurtures risk in all aspects of the practice. Freehold is a laboratory for working professionals, a studio for emerging artists, and above all, a destination where anyone with an inquisitive spirit can join in the celebration of the inherent risk of being human.

  • KEXP 90.3 FM

    KEXP 90.3 FM is more than a radio station—it's a dynamic arts organization that provides rich music experiences on air, online and on the streets. KEXP's unique services benefit music lovers, artists and the arts community. Beginning as a tiny 10-watt station in 1972, KEXP has grown into an innovative, influential cultural force in the Seattle community and beyond that brings national attention to Seattle as a music city. KEXP's programming features variety and specialty shows with the emerging sounds and long-time favorites from the Pacific Northwest, the country and throughout the world. Artists championed by KEXP are not typically supported by traditional media outlets. They are inventive, contemporary musicians creating new work in popular genres that include rock, hip hop, reggae, country, Latin, modern global and more.

  • Li Hengda

    Choreographer and artistic director Li Hengda fuses Chinese and Western dance to form a unique dance style. Founder of the American Asian Performing Arts Theatre and Hengda Dance Academy in Seattle, Li has created more than 20 popular dance works and directed 25 large-scale professional performances combining local and international Chinese artists together to promote the Chinese performing arts. Performances have included the Sichuan Earthquake Relief Performance in 2008 and the world-class performances of the China National Acrobatic Troupe in 2009. Officially recognized in China as a "National Premier Dancer" in 1987, Li was a main soloist with the Pacific Northwest Ballet from 1991 to 1996. Li was also a recipient of the 2011 Artist Trust Fellowship award for his exceptional original work and its impact on the community.

  • Lucia Neare's Theatrical Wonders

    Lucia Neare is artistic director of Lucia Neare's Theatrical Wonders. Since 2006, her company has created acclaimed, free, large-scale, site-specific theatrical works, bringing living dreams to thousands of audience participants. These site-based, participatory, outdoor performances involve hundreds of performers, giant set pieces, larger-than-life costumes, and live orchestra and dance. The works unfurl across the landscape of the city, its waters and the calendar year, drawing people of all ages into parks, beaches and urban thoroughfares. Works include Ooo La La: a May Day Spectacular, which transformed downtown Seattle into a grand corridor of delight in 2008, and Lullaby Moon, a year-long series of performances that brought bedtime whimsy to Seattle's public spaces on each new moon beginning in 2008.

  • Seattle Arts & Lectures

    For 25 years, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) has presented transformative programs with acclaimed writers that foster diverse ideas, the imagination and a love of reading and writing. SAL's Literary Arts Series brings outstanding authors to Benaroya Hall's Taper Auditorium. SAL Presents features the best fiction and non-fiction writers speaking about their latest books at venues in Seattle and on the Eastside. The Poetry Series debuted in 2000, as did SAL U, offering courses for adults taught by distinguished University of Washington professors. Since 1994, Writers in the Schools (WITS) has placed local, professional writers in public school classrooms to develop writing and reading skills. WITS annually serves 5,000 students at 25 schools throughout the region and at Seattle Children's Hospital.



  • Buster Simpson

    Buster Simpson, an active artist since the 1970s, has worked on major infrastructure projects, site master planning, signature sculptures, museum installations and community projects. Simpson is a recipient of numerous awards including National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and the Americans for the Arts Artist of the Year Award in 2009. Installations include Effluence of Affluence (1991) at Seattle Art Museum; Face Plate (1989) at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and Incidence (2003) at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Simpson often melds social and ecological issues into an aesthetic to inform lasting public works. Recent completed commissions include Bio Boulevard (2011) at the Brightwater Treatment Plant in Woodinville and Carbon Veil (2011) at SeaTac International Airport.

  • Three Dollar Bill Cinema

    Since 1996, Three Dollar Bill Cinema has been the premiere arts organization representing LGBT film and media in the Northwest. The organization provides access to films by, for and about LGBT people and their families, and is a forum for LGBT filmmakers to share and discuss their work. Three Dollar Bill's chief program is the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Celebrating its 17th year, the 11-day festival has become the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and has garnered national recognition for showcasing extraordinary and award-winning work. Three Dollar Bill Cinema also hosts many film events for the community, including the free, summer film series in Cal Anderson Park, celebrating diversity in a family-friendly environment.

  • TilibSedeb (Singing Feet)

    TilibSedeb (Singing Feet) is the Duwamish Tribe's language and culture group. The youth group teaches the Duwamish Tribe, especially the children, their ancestral Puget Sound language Lushootseed and their heritage through singing, dancing, oratory and cultural traditions. Duwamish Tribe Chair Cecile Hansen founded the group in 2001 to instill Duwamish family and community values, recruiting Puget Sound Salish educator ?esweli (The Emerging One), also known as Zeke Zahir, to teach the Duwamish children their language and traditions. The group was founded on the belief that learning traditional values and taking pride in accomplishments can help youth avoid drug and alcohol addiction and become contributing members of their community and society. The group also presents to other First Peoples and the broader Seattle community.

  • The Vera Project

    The Vera Project is an all-ages, volunteer-fueled music and arts venue. By engaging participants at all levels of music production and community organizing, Vera fosters a participatory creative culture through popular music concerts, arts programs, experiential learning and volunteer opportunities. Vera's programs focus on young people ages 14 to 24 and include audio engineering training, youth-driven governance, visual art exhibits, live and studio recording, leadership training, silkscreen printing/classes, event production training and weekly concerts. Vera's programs and volunteer-driven structure give youth the skills necessary to pursue their creative and professional passions. Vera engages thousands in the arts, helps develop the future of the music industry.

  • Olivier Wevers

    Choreographer and artistic director of contemporary dance company Whim W'Him, Olivier Wevers is a creative force in Seattle. One of Pacific Northwest Ballet's (PNB) most beloved dancers for 14 years, Wevers has performed lead roles in major classical ballets as well as contemporary works by the world's most noted choreographers. In 2009 he founded his dance company Whim W'Him. The company premiered at On the Boards to sold-out houses and critical acclaim. He has choreographed works for companies in the United States and abroad, as well as PNB and Spectrum Dance Theater. In 2011, he received a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship, a prestigious award given to only two choreographers in the United States each year. Presenting his work both locally and internationally, Wevers helps bring awareness to Seattle as a world-class center of dance.

2011 Recipients

  • Donald Byrd

    Acclaimed choreographer and artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater, Donald Byrd left New York for Seattle nearly a decade ago because he was attracted to Spectrum's mission "to make dance accessible, without limitation to the community."

    Byrd has transformed Spectrum, a former jazz-dance group, into a groundbreaking modern dance company, which supports local talent and offers dance classes at its rehearsal studio on Lake Washington to more than 500 students of all ages each week.

    Byrd has created more than 80 works for his former company of nearly 25 years, the New York-based Donald Byrd/The Group, Spectrum and many major dance companies including The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

    Through Byrd's leadership, Spectrum partners with many Seattle arts groups, including The 5th Avenue Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and most recently Seattle Art Museum, which tapped Byrd to help enact performance "invasions" by dancers wearing artist Nick Cave's otherworldly sound suits.

  • Jack Straw Productions

    Jack Straw Productions—the Northwest's only nonprofit multidisciplinary audio arts center—will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012.

    Jack Straw's mission is to foster the communication of arts, ideas, and information to diverse audiences through audio media, including radio, theater, film, video, music and literature.

    A community-based resource, Jack Straw provides a top-tier production facility for local artists who work creatively with sound. The organization offers artist residencies, a writers program, a new media gallery, and education programs for all ages. Jack Straw also collaborates with arts and heritage organizations to integrate sound and music into their programs.

    Jack Straw's youth education programs give students hands-on experience in a recording studio, allowing them to create their own audio programs including radio theater, oral histories and music recording projects. Many of the participants are disabled or immigrant youth whose access to arts training is limited.

  • Dr. Quinton Morris

    Quinton Morris at Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony.

    Quinton Morris enjoys a multifaceted career as a concert violinist, chamber musician, professor, director and founder of The Young Eight String Octet, the nation's only string octet comprised of distinguished African American string players from the nation's most prestigious music schools. Morris earned a Master of Music degree from The Boston Conservatory and a Doctor of Musical Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.

    Morris is the Director of Chamber and Instrumental Music and Assistant Professor of Music at Seattle University, where recently he won the Outstanding Scholarship and Creative Work Award from the College of Arts and Sciences.

    According to one nominator, "Morris' long list of achievements and awards is impressive, but even more impressive is his determination to make a difference for aspiring young musicians—particularly for youngsters of color who do not always have role models close at hand in the classical community."

    Morris has performed solo and chamber music performances across the country and around the globe, and recently marked his New York City recital debut with soprano Indra Thomas and pianist Maimy Fong to a sold out audience at Carnegie Hall.

  • On the Boards

    According to a recent article in The New York Times, "On the Boards (OtB) is one of America's best theaters for contemporary performance. Its stages are graced by top-tier artists from around the world, as well as locals."

    Founded by artists in 1978, OtB's mission is to introduce audiences to international innovators in contemporary dance, theater and music while developing and presenting new work by Northwest performing artists.

    OtB has featured breakthrough performances by art stars including Laurie Anderson, The Wooster Group, Sankai Juku, Romeo Castellucci and Mark Morris and locals Pat Graney, Reggie Watts, Crystal Pite, Dayna Hanson, and Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey.

    Through performance series and a festival, OtB provides artists room to grow and take risks. OtB's programs include the experimental 12 Minutes Max series; the curated NW New Works Festival; the Northwest Series, which features regional artists and companies; and the Inter/National series which presents artists from around the world.

  • Pratt Fine Arts Center

    Pratt Fine Arts Center makes art accessible to everyone, offering a place for spirited exchange, self expression and personal transformation through creativity.

    Founded in 1976 to provide high quality visual arts training in Seattle's Central District, one of the city's most economically and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, Pratt creates opportunities to learn, make, and experience the visual arts through equal access to free and subsidized classes, a low-cost studio rental program, and free exhibitions, lectures and events.

    Pratt offers hands-on instruction in glass, sculpture, jewelry, printmaking, painting, and drawing, giving individuals of all ages their first exposure to making art and teaching aspiring, emerging and established artists new techniques and skills.

    Pratt's ARTSpark Program provides free art classes to more than 600 underserved children and youth. Throughout its 35-year history, Pratt has served as a creative hub for working artists, arts patrons, and community members to share ideas and learn new skills.

  • Tet in Seattle

    Tet Festival is a free community celebration held annually as part of Festál, a series of world festivals at Seattle Center.

    For the past 15 years, Tet Festival has celebrated the Vietnamese Lunar New Year and Vietnamese culture through the visual and performing arts and cuisine unique to Vietnam. The volunteer-run festival attracts 10,000 to 15,000 participants each year in late January or early February.

    Tet in Seattle's mission is to preserve and promote Vietnamese culture and to help bridge gaps between first and second generation Vietnamese immigrants as well as help foster cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

    As part of the festival, Tet in Seattle publishes a bilingual magazine that features Vietnamese history and stories. The organization also helps develop future leaders in the Vietnamese community and is committed to public service year-round, including participating in the International District /Little Saigon clean up, creating a Vietnamese community float for the Seafair Torchlight Parade and participating in fundraising campaigns for cancer research.

2010 Recipients

  • Juan Alonso

    Video Profile

    Growing up, Juan Alonso never had any intention of embarking on a career as a visual artist. Born in Havana, Cuba, Alonso arrived in the United States in 1966 as a boy. His father sent him to live with an aunt and uncle in Miami, Fla., in the hopes that Alonso would have a chance at a better life.

    It was music that Juan first took up professionally, singing and playing guitar in Florida nightclubs in the late 1970s. He moved to Seattle in May of 1982, where his interest in painting and drawing flourished. Alonso's artwork harkens to his homeland. His paintings draw on childhood memories of Cuba and have evolved over the years from his trademark sensuous floral works to weathered abstractions inspired by the faded facades of Havana's ornate, historic buildings and currently focus on the foundation and inner workings of architectural structures.

    Since his inclusion in a group show of Latin-American artists in 1986 at Seattle Center, what started out as a strong interest in the visual arts, became a lifetime commitment. This commitment is not exclusive to his career, however. Alonso promotes and mentors other artists, advocates for minority artists, is very involved with several arts organizations and spearheads fundraising efforts for various community causes.

    Alonso's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America. He received a Neddy Fellowship in 1997 and the Morrie and Joan Alhadeff PONCHO Artist of the Year Award in 2007. His work is in public collections, including the city of Seattle, state of Oregon, Washington state's art in public places program, city of Everett, IMG Inc. in Tokyo, Microsoft, Safeco, AIDS Housing of Washington, Museum of Northwest Art and the Tacoma Art Museum. He has completed public art commissions for Qwest Field, Sea-Tac Airport, the King County Housing Authority's Greenbridge Neighborhood Park and Sound Transit's Columbia City light rail station.

  • Book-It Repertory Theatre

    Video Profile

    Book-It Repertory Theatre celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to transforming great literature into great theatre and to inspiring its audiences to read.

    The seeds for Book-It were sown in 1987, when a group of Seattle actors gathered at a Capitol Hill acting studio in the hopes of launching a troupe devoted to bringing literature to life on stage. The theater began as an artists' collective adapting short stories for performances and touring them throughout the Northwest. A few years later in 1990, Book-It Repertory Theatre was born.

    Book-It's trademarked style preserves the narrative text as it is spoken, not by a single "narrator" but as active dialogue by the characters in the production. The company's spare production aesthetic serves the adapted literature by mirroring the reading experience, inviting the audience to participate fully with their imaginations.

    Today, in addition to offering four to five fully-produced theatrical productions each season, education plays an integral role in Book-It's work. Book-It All Over, the theater's educational touring program, aims to improve reading and writing skills by making a visceral connection between the written and the spoken word. Its four annual touring performances and school residencies reach more than 60,000 young people every year by travelling to schools, libraries, and community centers around the state.

    Under the leadership of Founding Co-Artistic Directors Jane Jones and Myra Platt, Book-It has produced more than 60 world-premiere adaptations of classic and contemporary literature for the stage. The company has carved out a unique niche in Seattle's theater community. Over the years, Book-It has formed relationships with many great living authors whose works they have adapted, including John Irving, Tom Robbins, Amy Bloom, David Guterson, Maya Angelou, Jim Lynch, Stephanie Kallos, Pam Houston, Isabel Allende, Jonathan Raban, Ivan Doig and Dinaw Mengestu.

  • Dennis Coleman

    Video Profile

    Dennis Coleman has been a leader in Seattle's LGBT and arts communities for nearly three decades. His commitment to using the arts to achieve social justice goals has been a driving force in his life.

    He is best known for his work as artistic director (since 1981) of Seattle Men's Chorus (SMC), having led the Chorus to a position of prominence as the largest community chorus (in audience and budget size) in the United Sates. Seattle Men's Chorus, founded in 1979, is the largest gay men's chorus in the world, with more than 300 singing members. The Chorus, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary season, has built bridges of understanding through the "power of music, touching hearts and changing minds." It performs to more than 20,000 patrons annually and has performed in many of the world's most prestigious halls, including New York's Carnegie Hall and Barcelona's Palau de Musica Catalon.

    In 2002, Coleman became founding artistic director of Seattle Women's Chorus (SWC). Since its inception, SWC has grown to more than 250 members. The diverse membership of SWC provides a model by which lesbian and straight women work together toward a common mission and vision of acceptance.

    Coleman has been active as a civic leader in Seattle. He initiated and continues to direct the downtown Westlake Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration, was the music director of Seattle's Goodwill Games, and served on the advisory board guiding the design of Benaroya Hall. The Pride Foundation created a scholarship fund in his name to provide funding to LGBT students pursuing a degree in music.

  • Reel Grrls

    Video Profile

    Founded in 2001 by Malory Graham, Reel Grrls is an award-winning program devoted to empowering young women through media production.

    Reel Grrls' mission is to cultivate voice and leadership in girls at a vulnerable time in their development. The participants don't just drop into a computer lab after school - they develop lasting relationships with women filmmakers and learn skills that propel them to leadership roles in their community, college scholarships and careers in the media industry. More than 60 percent of participants, many of whom are low income and at-risk teens, receive scholarships.

    Reel Grrls offers a variety of hands-on workshops in specific skills including animation, cinematography, script writing and more. The organization offers day camps, weekend and after-school workshops, and an apprenticeship program in which advanced students provide professional video production services to Seattle-area nonprofits.

    In addition to providing young women with access to resources that allow them to create meaningful films, Reel Grrls helps teens showcase their work at festivals and local public screenings. Reel Grrls films have been screened and honored at more than 80 film festivals in the United States and abroad. Recent highlights include winning two Student Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and official selections in the Los Angeles Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festivals.

    For the past two years, Team Reel Grrls, a group of 10 Seattle-area women filmmakers who also serve as Reel Grrls mentors and staff, have received top honors in the International Documentary Challenge. In 2008, Team Reel Grrls won best film out of a pool of 150 international contestants and took home two 2009 jury awards, including best editing.

  • Sergei Tschernisch

    Video Profile

    Sergei Tschernisch, president of Seattle's Cornish College of the Arts, is a dynamic and respected arts educator. Tschernisch assumed his Cornish job in 1994 and has significantly expanded the campus, enrollment and reputation of the private college that focuses on degree programs in the visual and performing arts. He will retire from his post at the end of the 2010-11 academic year.

    Tschernisch boldly instigated and presided over a period of remarkable expansion of Cornish. Enrollment has grown from 500 students in 1994 to about 800 in 2010. And the school's big plans to add and modernize facilities were realized, despite limited dollars.

    Tschernisch has orchestrated a Cornish renaissance. Under his leadership, the school has achieved yearly balanced budgets, key faculty and staff appointments, curricular changes and new programs. The transformations are most dramatically apparent with the relocation and expansion of the campus from Capitol Hill to the Denny Triangle/South Lake Union area in downtown.

    He served three terms on the Seattle Arts Commission and played an integral role in advancing the commission's commitment to arts education in Seattle Public Schools.

    Tschernisch is an artist, educator and administrator whose professional career includes initiating and shaping some of the country's most progressive arts programs, including a 12-year tenure at CalArts and work at regional theaters in Boston, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. His vision and energy has enabled Cornish to expand beyond Seattle and take its place as the premier visual and performing arts college of the Northwest.

    His vision and energy carry on the legacy of Cornish - since its founding in 1914 - to serve as an incubator for emerging artists and offer them a deep grounding in the skills of their profession (dance, music, theater, visual art) and the personal confidence and determination to succeed.

  • Velocity Dance Center

    Video Profile

    Seattle has one of the most active dance communities on the West Coast. It is home to dozens of independent choreographers and is renowned for producing innovative, cutting-edge work. Velocity Dance Center embodies the cornerstone of Seattle's dance ecosystem and contributes significantly to the national and international field of dance. It's Seattle's only dedicated contemporary dance venue where groundbreaking work and disciplined practice coexist.

    Launched in 1996 by dancer/choreographers KT Niehoff and Michele Miller, Velocity quickly grew into a vital force alongside the Seattle dance community. It offers a full schedule of classes for beginner through professional-level dancers, eight artist development programs, and affordable rehearsal and performance space to local dance companies and choreographers.

    Velocity is also home to the hugely popular Strictly Seattle, a three-week summer intensive that draws dancers from all over the country to participate in three weeks of classes and workshops taught by Seattle-based choreographers and culminating in public performances.

    In 2006, Niehoff and Miller stepped down, and Kara O'Toole took over as executive director of the contemporary dance studio, where the founders remain active as teachers and mentors.

    In 2007, Velocity's former home in the Odd Fellows Building on Capitol Hill was sold to a developer who raised the rent, making it impossible for the organization to remain in the space. So, under the leadership of O'Toole, Velocity launched a capital campaign to raise funds to relocate to and renovate a space just around the corner at 1621 12th Avenue. The organization moved into its new home in March 2010.

    Velocity Dance Center has over 15,000 site visits a year. It serves at least 5,000 individuals: including 3,000 adult students, 100 dance companies and individual artists, and the majority of Seattle's leading contemporary choreographers. Velocity maintains an audience of approximately 2,000 dance enthusiasts and keeps Seattle squarely on the contemporary dance map.

2009 Recipients

  • Artist Trust

    Video Profile

    Artist Trust is a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting Washington state artists working in all disciplines. Founded in 1987 by a group of arts patrons and artists who were concerned about the lack of support for individual artists, Artist Trust has distributed more than $5 million through grants and professional development resources to thousands of the state's most promising and respected musicians, visual artists, writers, dancers, craft artists, filmmakers, cross-disciplinary artists and more.

    Through financial grants, professional development training, resources and artist networking events, Artist Trust provides artists the time and resources necessary to prosper. Its Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) Program provides up to $1,500 in support for artist-generated projects, and the Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowships recognize professional artists of exceptional talent and demonstrated ability with a merit-based $7,500 award. Additionally, each year the organization honors a Washington state female visual artist, age 60 or over, who has dedicated 25 or more years of her life to creating art with the Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, an unrestricted award of $10,000.

    In addition to financial awards, Artist Trust delivers vital professional development information to thousands of artists through print and online resources, including a searchable database of current and ongoing opportunities ranging from grants to job postings to workshop offerings and listings for studio space and housing.

    Professional development training includes the EDGE Professional Development Program, a 50-hour training program for visual, literary and film/media artists, the I Am An Artist Professional Development Weekend, and free grant-writing and resources workshops offered across the state for artists of all disciplines.

    Artist Trust also serves as a clearinghouse for legal resources, health care information, and emergency assistance programs. Artist Trust has taken the lead on addressing the issue of health care for artists through the Washington Artists Health Insurance Project (WAHIP), an ambitious effort to forge new strategies to improve artists' access to health insurance. This year, the organization developed a pilot partnership with Country Doctor Community Clinic on Capitol Hill, where uninsured artists can apply for subsidized primary and preventative care.

  • Jesse Higman

    Video Profile

    Jesse Higman launched his career as an artist during the Northwest's grunge-music heyday of the early nineties. He started out painting leather jackets and guitars and graduated to illustrating album art and posters for local bands including Heart, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. Several of his early pieces are in the collections of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Experience Music Project.

    Higman himself is as inspiring as his artwork. A quadriplegic, he has limited use of his hands. Twenty-four years ago he swerved to miss a squirrel in the road, wrecked his car and broke his neck. Today, his paintings have become larger in scale, and he often relies on the assistance of others to make his art. For Higman, the collaborative process is a driving influence in the visual outcomes of his work.

    Higman's more recent artistic endeavors include "alluvium" art, which he named after the geological term for fine sediment deposited by flowing water. He is most interested in the "physics of life" and is inspired by "nature's patterns, waves, ripples in sand, folds of mountains and iridescent oils on wet parking lots." His paintings could be considered watercolors, since he uses washes of water to deliver pigment. But the real medium according to Higman, is the systems from which things evolve - including weather, electrical, vascular, or ecosystems. Higman is planning a 20-year retrospective of his work at the Moore Theatre later this year.

  • Speight Jenkins

    Video Profile

    Speight Jenkins, celebrating his 25th season as general director of Seattle Opera, is recognized nationally as a politically active arts advocate, a leading authority on opera and one of the nation's most influential and accomplished general directors.

    Under Jenkins' leadership, Seattle Opera's productions have captured international acclaim, boosting the economy and raising the profile of Seattle as a thriving arts city. He has strengthened and extended the opera's reputation as a Wagner center—producing all 10 of Wagner's major operas—including two very different Ring productions. In August, the opera will again present the Ring cycle, generating more than $8 million in economic benefits. This summer's production will bring visitors to Seattle from 22 countries, 46 states and eight Canadian provinces.

    Jenkins led a Seattle Opera team that was instrumental in helping to design and build Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in 2003, raising more than 70 percent of the building costs in tandem with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Center.

    Jenkins has also championed a nationally acclaimed education program that brings young opera artists to elementary schools and encourages thousands of high school students to learn about opera by attending dress rehearsals. Since its inception in 1998, the Opera's Young Artists Program has helped to launch the careers of many singers. Former Young Artists have gone on to perform on Seattle Opera's mainstage and have appeared with major opera companies throughout the United States and Europe.

    Prior to his work at Seattle Opera, Jenkins wrote for the New York Post, was an editor of Opera News and hosted the Metropolitan Opera telecasts.

  • Northwest Tap Connection

    Video Profile

    A South Seattle urban dance studio which trains and inspires young dancers, Northwest Tap Connection is committed to enriching the lives of its students (ages 5 to 19) through dance, while developing self-discipline, instilling self-confidence and encouraging achievement and goal setting.

    Louisiana native and tap dance historian Melba Ayco serves as program and artistic director, striving to incorporate the mood of "Down South" roots into the choreography performed by the company. While rhythm tap is the primary dance form, the school also offers a variety of dance styles, including jazz, modern, hip-hop, ballet, African, and swing.

    Ayco has worked hard to create an environment where dancers can grow artistically and technically, and at the same time develop leadership skills, a sense of social responsibility and knowledge of the history and art form of dance.

    Intermediate and advanced students perform works by emerging and master choreographers and are encouraged to participate in an annual tap festival. Dancers have traveled to Chicago, Ill.; Denver, Colo.; Minneapolis, Minn.; New Orleans, La.; New York, NY; Los Angeles, Calif.; and Washington D.C. Some of the senior students have danced with tap legends such as the late Gregory Hines and Savion Glover.

  • Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras

    Video Profile

    Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras (SYSO) is the largest youth symphony organization in the United States. Founded in 1942, it serves more than 1,100 diverse students a year through four orchestras, three summer programs and partnerships with local public schools. Through its financial aid programs, SYSO makes sure every talented child can receive excellent music education, regardless of their financial resources.

    For many of the region's young musicians, SYSO is their first taste of a musical life, and some have gone on to perform in the world's great concert halls.

    Last fall, The Wallace Foundation awarded SYSO a four-year $500,000 award to support SYSO in the Schools program. Developed in partnership with Seattle Public Schools, the program aims to introduce new instrumental music programs in elementary schools, and ultimately increase the number of middle school orchestra programs in the school district. The project is expected to serve between 6,000 and 10,000 students with instrumental music lessons, in-school concerts and free tickets to Seattle Youth Symphony performances.

    SYSO in the Schools sprung from the Endangered Instruments Program (EIP), founded by SYSO in 1990 as an in-school program to encourage music students to learn less commonly played instruments. EIP provides school music departments with weekly free group instrumental lessons for students in the early stages of learning on instruments such as the oboe, viola, tuba and French horn. The program is designed to increase the size, diversity and quality of school band and orchestra programs.

    SYSO's academic-year orchestra program serves more than 470 students through four full orchestras. Comprised of the organization's most advanced players, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra is SYSO's flagship orchestra and one of the premier youth orchestras in the country. Under the baton of Music Director Stephen Radcliffe, the orchestra's repertoire includes a variety of styles from early music to world premieres. The orchestra performs three regular season concerts in Benaroya Hall.

2008 Recipients

  • 14/48: the world's quickest theater festival

    Video Profile

    In its 11th year, 14/48 is Seattle's beloved theater marathon. Twice a year, it boasts 14 plays conceived, written, designed, scored, rehearsed and performed in 48 hours, thus its official nickname - "the world's quickest theater festival."

    Founded in 1997 by Michael Neff and Jodi-Paul Wooster, the festival has evolved from a one-night one-time only event to a twice-yearly, two-weekend-long theatrical bonanza that features Seattle's most fearless theater artists with occasional guests from Los Angeles; Vancouver, B.C.; and New York. Participation is by invitation only and ranges from experienced fringe theater artists to Seattle's performance elite. Each festival, 14/48's Steering Committee strives to comprise the artist pool of at least 30 percent new participants - or "14/48 virgins" as they are called.

    Here's how the 14/48 process works. On the night before the festival, all participants for that weekend meet and choose a theme at random. Seven writers have one night to write a 10-minute play based on that theme. In the morning, seven directors gather and each randomly draw one play. One half hour later, the directors blindly choose actors to cast the show. And then the band shows up to provide music and sound throughout the festival. The directors and their casts spend the day in rehearsal and tech and mount seven brand new plays that evening. At the end of the night, the audience, inspired by the seven world premieres they just experienced, chooses a new theme and the adrenaline-charged theater-a-thon kicks in again.

    Ticket sales and grant dollars cover the festival's operating costs. Participants aren't paid, but are rewarded with food, beer and a theatrical experience they will never forget.

  • Coyote Central and Marybeth Satterlee

    Video Profile

    Marybeth Satterlee, an inspired middle-school teacher, co-founded Coyote Central in 1986 with fellow teacher Greg Ewert. Their goal - to offer the richness of creative discovery to all kids.

    Today, Satterlee and Claudia Stelle lead the organization, which targets middle-school age students through weekend and summer workshops led by artists and other professionals in real-life settings. Students become filmmakers, hot glass artists, tree house builders, fashion illustrators, photographers, welders, pastry chefs, furniture makers, painters, cartoonists, public artists and much more.

    Since it was founded, more than 10,000 kids have taken part in Coyote's three programs: Studio Coyote, a year-round series of intensive workshops; Hit the Streets, a summer public art project aimed at low-income youth in the Central District and south end; and City Works, collaborations with local businesses and agencies that commission Coyote artists to make site-specific public art.

    Coyote's engaging projects attract young people from diverse backgrounds all over the city. No student is turned away. A scholarship program and a system of auction trades and barters ensure all kids can participate.

  • Hugo Ludeña

    Video Profile

    Photographer Hugo Ludeña has been shining a lens on Latino culture in the Northwest for 15 years. His documentary photography creates a colorful visual narrative of everyday activities and celebrations - from weddings to quinceañeras and community festivals.

    When Ludeña arrived in the Northwest in 1993, he was struck by the cultural separation between Latinos and other cultural groups. His photo essay "Latinos in the Northwest: A Cultural Journey," widely exhibited throughout the region in 2007, aimed to break down barriers between cultures and celebrate local Latino life.

    Two years ago, Ludeña launched Latino Cultural Magazine to highlight Latino contributions to arts and culture. The quarterly fine arts publication also serves as networking tool for artists.

    Ludeña grew up in Lima, Perú and moved to the United States at the age of 18. He studied graphic design and photojournalism. His people and bilingual skills landed him a youth outreach job in Seattle in the early '90s.

    Today, Ludeña continues to mentor youth through the medium of photography. Last year, as a teaching artist for Youth in Focus' South Park PhotoVoice Project, he helped connect young residents of the South Seattle neighborhood to their culture and community through photography.

  • Nonsequitur

    Video Profile

    Nonsequitur Foundation, a new music nonprofit, recently transformed a chapel space into a hopping hub for experimental music.

    Founded by Steve Peters and Jonathan Scheuer in 1989 in New Mexico, Nonsequitur moved to Seattle in 2004. After a few years of renting venues around town on a per-event basis, the organization struck a long-term deal with Historic Seattle to use the renovated Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. In early 2007, Nonsequitur presented its first official show in the new venue.

    Nonsequitur presents adventurous and experimental music ten times a month in the Chapel, sharing most of those nights with a cadre of like-minded artists and organizations at a very reasonable semi-subsidized rate. If ticket sales are under $200, the 20-percent rental fee is waived.

    The Chapel quickly struck a chord in the music community. The hall has hosted more than 100 innovative, experimental music performances and is booked well into 2009.

    Dedicated to the presentation of experimental music and sound art, Nonsequitur began as a CD publishing project and about a decade ago shifted its focus to live events and sound installations. A composer and sound artist, Peters' own work is often site-specific, made with recorded sounds of the environment and found objects, traditional instruments and spoken text. He performs with the Seattle Phonographers Union and also works as a freelance producer, writer and curator.

  • Cathryn Vandenbrink

    Video Profile

    Cathryn Vandenbrink has dedicated the past dozen years of her career working to carve out long-term affordable space for artists and arts organizations in Seattle. In her role as regional director of Artspace Projects, Vandenbrink gives artists room to create in the face of a common scenario - artists settle in low-rent neighborhood, neighborhood becomes hip, artists are forced out by rising prices.

    Artspace is the nation's leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts, based in Minneapolis with an office in Seattle. Vandenbrink was at the helm of the most recent Artspace project in Seattle. The Artspace Hiawatha Lofts in the Central District opened in March and feature 61 affordable live/work studios designed to meet the needs of the creative community. In 2004, Vandenbrink oversaw the rehab of the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts in Pioneer Square, reversing a trend of disappearing artist live/work space in the neighborhood. Both projects feature space for ground-floor retail, galleries and arts organizations.

    Prior to joining Artspace, Vandenbrink was deputy director of the Pioneer Square Community Development Organization. Previously, she worked as a self-employed jewelry artist for 20 years.

  • Wing Luke Asian Museum

    Video Profile

    It began as a modest museum more than 40 years. Today, the Wing Luke Asian Museum has grown into a nationally acclaimed institution for Asian Pacific American history, art and culture. Last month, the museum entered a new era when it opened the doors to its new home in the historic East Kong Yick Building in the Chinatown/International District.

    The museum embarked on a $23.2 million capital campaign to rehabilitate the Kong Yick Building built by Chinese immigrants in 1910. The 60,000-square-foot, four-story building is more than eight times larger than the museum's previous home in a former parking garage less than one block away.

    The museum has set itself apart with its community-driven approach to exhibits. Instead of relying on professional curators to organize shows, museum staff seeks input from community members. The museum's new home features community spaces - a reception hall and theater and galleries with exhibits that address contemporary and historic issues. Guided "Historic Immersion Tours" take visitors back 100 years to a one-room apartment, a neighborhood store, a communal kitchen and more.

    After 17 years at the helm, Executive Director Ron Chew retired in December 2007. A self-taught curator, he steered a grassroots museum into a nationally acclaimed institution for Asian Pacific American history and culture. Beth Takekawa, CEO of the museum, took over as executive director early this year.

    A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the museum is the premier pan-Asian Pacific American museum in the country. Its namesake, Wing Luke, served on the Seattle City Council from 1962 to 1965. He was the first Asian American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest. He was 40 when he died in a plane crash in 1965.

2007 Recipients

  • Clarence Acox Jr., Jazz Musician and Director of Jazz Bands at Garfield High School

    Video Profile

    Clarence Acox Jr., an instrumental figure in the Seattle music scene, has nurtured young musicians for the past 35 years as director of jazz bands at Garfield High School, where he leads the renowned Garfield Jazz Ensemble, winning dozens of awards and making regular appearances at national and international venues.

    A native of New Orleans, La., Acox came to Seattle in 1971 straight out of Southern University, where he was recruited by Garfield High School to revive its moribund music program. Garfield's Jazz Ensemble has twice taken first place (in 2003 and 2004) at New York's Essentially Ellington National Jazz Band Competition and Festival at New York City's Lincoln Center — the country's most prestigious high school jazz competition. Under Acox's direction, the jazz ensemble has swept every major competition on the West Coast, including the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho, and Oregon's Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.

    Acox, who also directs Seattle University's Jazz Ensemble, was named "Educator of the Year" by Down Beat Magazine in 2001. In 2004, the Seattle Music Educator's Association awarded him its "Outstanding Music Educator" award.

    An accomplished and in-demand drummer, Acox co-founded the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in 1995 and performed with the Floyd Standifer Quartet (now Legends Quartet) at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant for more than two decades.

  • Earshot Jazz and John Gilbreath, Executive Director

    Video Profile

    Earshot Jazz, the Seattle nonprofit arts organization best known for its fall jazz festival, was formed in 1984 to support jazz artists, students and audiences in the Seattle area. Over the course of more than 20 years Earshot Jazz has played a pivotal role in Seattle's music community by bringing jazz innovators to the region, championing local and emerging artists and providing quality education programs.

    At the organization's helm since 1991, Executive Director John Gilbreath has shaped Earshot's varied programs, including a year-round slate of concert series, an annual Golden Ear Award recognizing the accomplishments of Seattle jazz artists and a monthly news magazine devoted to the region's jazz scene.

    Under Gilbreath's leadership, the Earshot Jazz Festival, a two-week marathon featuring dozens of jazz concerts at an array of Seattle venues, has become one of the largest jazz festivals on the West Coast. The festival attracts artists from around the world to Seattle's stages and hosts them alongside exceptional local musicians.

    Earshot has been selected for major national funding initiatives from the Lila Wallace and Doris Duke foundations as well as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Earshot is a noted partner of the NEA's Jazz Masters on Tour Initiative. Gilbreath has also fostered countless creative collaborations with Seattle cultural organizations and community partners, including a jazz film series at Northwest Film Forum, and Art of Jazz, an evening concert series at Seattle Art Museum.

  • Jean Griffith, Pottery Northwest, Founding Member and Former Director

    Video Profile

    Jean Griffith, a founding member of Pottery Northwest and its director for more than 30 years, has played a major role in promoting contemporary ceramics in the Northwest.

    Pottery Northwest, a non-profit ceramics center on the edge of Seattle Center, offers a unique communal learning and working environment. Griffith didn't set out to be its longtime director. In 1966, she became one of the first instructors for the new non-profit educational institution. Griffith was hired in 1971 as the director, a position which she held, with one brief retirement, until 2003 when she became president of the board. She stepped down from the board in the fall of 2006, shortly after Pottery Northwest celebrated its 40th anniversary.

    It wasn't until her mid 30s that Griffith got involved in clay. As a graduate student at the University of Washington and president of the Seattle Clay Club, she brought initial attention to raku, then an unexplored area. Her early work also included large-scale, slat-glazed sculpture and raku wall reliefs, monumental for their time.

    Lauded for her contributions in ceramics, Griffith has been heralded as Seattle's "muse of clay." She set her artmaking aside to lead Pottery Northwest, managing its finances, overseeing classes, hiring instructors, setting up workshops, lectures and exhibitions. Widely praised for her leadership, Griffith's honors include being named an Honorary Fellow of the American Craft Council in 1996.

  • Longhouse Media's Native Lens Program

    Video Profile

    Longhouse Media's Native Lens program teaches Native youth not only how to make films but how to collaboratively tell stories that challenge stereotypes about Native Americans while bridging a gap between Native youth and digital media. In addition to providing life skills, alternative education and career development in the media field, this program offers youth an opportunity to express the stories they want to tell while giving back to their communities.

    Longhouse Media was launched in January 2005 by Executive Director Tracy Rector and Artistic Director Annie Silverstein with the support of the Swinomish Indian Tribe. It houses the Native Lens program, which got its start in 2003 in the Swinomish Tribal Community. Since its inception, Native Lens has reached youth across the country and around the world.

    In just over two short, dynamic years Longhouse Media has introduced hundreds of students — many who come from low-income and at-risk backgrounds — to the art of writing and filmmaking. Much of Longhouse's success hinges on partnerships with regional tribes, funding agencies and other nonprofit organizations. In a partnership between Longhouse Media and the Seattle International Film Festival, Longhouse produced the first youth Superfly Filmmaking Experience in Seattle. Superfly is an exciting 36-hour challenge where youth from around the country come to Seattle to plan, write, shoot and edit four complete films. The resulting production is screened at SIFF to an audience of 850 film goers.

    With a mission to catalyze indigenous people and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation, and social change, Longhouse Media's Native Lens program is one of a handful of programs across the nation that focuses specifically on empowering Native youth via film and digital media.

  • Massive Monkees, B-boy Crew

    Video Profile

    Massive Monkees, a Seattle b-boy (break-dancing) crew, is a local favorite on the international performance and competition circuits.

    The world champion breaking crew has wowed audiences around the globe with its spectacular flow and combinations, all the while serving as Seattle ambassadors. In 2004, the group beat out 32 teams at the world championships in London to take the top prize at the World B-Boy Championship. Currently, the Massive Monkees are the subject of a documentary film project, are appearing as part of the sold-out Vans Warp Tour and recently captured a second-place finish at R16 Sparkling Seoul B-boy Competition in Seoul, South Korea.

    Closer to home, Massive Monkees are dedicated to teaching their craft to the next generation through weekly free dance-studio classes at Beacon Hill's Jefferson Community Center. They lend their services to elementary schools to raise awareness about the effects of drugs and alcohol on a healthy lifestyle, host voter-registration drives, organize battles for teenagers that need outlets for their angst and perform as the Sonics Boom Squad at Key Arena during the Seattle SuperSonics' home games.

    Massive Monkees recipe for success is the chemistry within the crew; outsiders note that it seems more like a family. The group formed in 1999, but many members got their start around 1995 thanks to the teachings of Seattle legend Fever1. Today the crew boasts more than two-dozen dancers, DJs, producers and graffiti artists. Nearly all grew up in Seattle's South End neighborhoods. The way Massive Monkees sees it, b-boys are more than just the athletic competitors in hip-hop. They are buzz generators, innovators and role models for Seattle hip hop.

  • Richard Hugo House

    Video Profile

    Seattle is the nation's most literate city, according to an annual ranking called America's Most Literate Cities. Although Seattle is a place known for its writers and bookstores, no central "hub" existed for writers and readers to meet until a decade ago, when Richard Hugo House — the inspiration of three Seattle writers hoping to establish an urban writer's retreat — opened its doors.

    Hugo House, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in September 2007, has supported poets, journalists, prose writers, storytellers, spoken word artists, zine makers, graphic novelists, bloggers and more.

    Today, the Capitol Hill literary arts center is fast evolving into a regional and national force, with a focus on nurturing new writing through classes, literary events and residencies for writers. Hugo Writing Classes and the Hugo Literary Series are at the heart of programming. In the former, writers hone their writing skills; in the latter, writers of regional and national reputation are invited to bring new writing to the House and present it to the public. Other programs include the Hugo Writers Fund, which co-sponsors more than 50 literary events each year; creative writing classes for young people ages 8 to 18; a regular publishing series called InPrint; and the Hugo Zine Archive and Publishing Project, which maintains a library of over 18,000 handmade and independent publications.

    Hugo House's residencies offer established writers stipends and/or space to support their work; in exchange, these writers hold office hours and consult free of charge with anyone in the city and region who seeks their expertise.

    In 2008, Hugo House will expand its current residency program to include two theater residencies, with the purpose of helping build strong, viable theater companies committed to presenting innovative new work.

  • Seattle Art Museum and Mimi Gardner Gates, Director

    Video Profile

    For more than seven decades, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has been one of the Pacific Northwest's leading visual arts institutions, experiencing explosive growth in the past year. When SAM opened its doors in Volunteer Park in 1933, the museum's collection focused primarily on Asian art. Today, the Seattle Art Museum has matured into a world-class arts institution with a global perspective.

    The opening of the expanded downtown Seattle Art Museum in May 2007 marked the completion of two major capital projects and the beginning of a dynamic new era for the museum. The museum's striking new building more than doubles the museum's space. In January 2007, the museum opened the highly acclaimed Olympic Sculpture Park, transforming downtown Seattle's largest undeveloped waterfront property from a former industrial site into a free and vibrant green space for art and people. The Seattle Asian Art Museum, the museum's original facility at Volunteer Park, is a lively center for Asian art and culture.

    The mastermind behind the museum's renaissance is Mimi Gardner Gates, who joined the Seattle Art Museum as director in May 1994. A scholar of Asian Art with a strong interest in Chinese painting, ceramics and the history of ornament, she had formerly served as director of the Yale University Art Gallery.

    During her tenure, Gates has led the museum forward, organizing major exhibitions, publishing scholarly publications and embarking on significant capital projects. In honor of SAM's 75th anniversary in 2008, the museum received an unprecedented series of gifts from prominent museum patrons and collectors. The gifts — nearly 1,000 works from 40 collections — significantly enhance SAM's holdings and reinforce the museum's dedication to artistic excellence.

2006 Recipients

2005 Recipients

2004 Recipients

2003 Recipients

  • The Allen Foundation for the Arts

    Outstanding Arts Philanthropy

  • Arts Corps

    Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education

  • Vinson Cole

    Outstanding Individual Achievement and Commitment to the Arts

  • Consolidated Works

    Excellence and Innovation by a Next Generation Arts Organization.

Presenting Partner

Presenting Partner

Media Sponsor

Event Sponsor

More of our Opportunities
For Artists
The Office of Arts & Culture supports and connects artists through a wide variety of opportunities including public art commissions, grants, professional development, artist rosters, and more.
For Organizations
The Office of Arts & Culture has long strived to serve all residents and communities in Seattle by partnering with arts and culture, heritage, and arts service organizations of all sizes and disciplines. In addition to providing funding and grant opportunities, we also offer resources to help organizations work towards racial and social equity.
More Opportunities to Experience Arts & Culture
Experience Art & Culture
Experience Art & Culture excerpt here
Experience Art & Culture
Experience Art & Culture excerpt here

Get email updates