Seattle Office of Arts & Culture director Randy Engstrom (b. 1977) made the announcement at the Mayor's Arts Awards ceremony on the North Fountain Lawn at Seattle Center. The annual ceremony recognizes the contributions of Seattle residents and arts and cultural organizations that make Seattle a city of creativity.
Quality Arts Education
The name The Creative Advantage was a rebranding of an existing partnership between the Office of Arts & Culture, the Seattle Arts Commission (a board of community volunteers), and Seattle Public Schools. This partnership was formed in 2008. At that time, some Seattle Public Schools offered award-winning arts programs to their students, while other schools had little or no arts curriculum.
The discrepancy between arts-rich schools and schools lacking much arts curriculum usually followed socio-economic lines. Schools in Seattle's wealthier neighborhoods often had parent organizations with strong fundraising capabilities. The money these organizations raised through the sale of goods, donations, and though school-specific grants was used to augment meager funding. Many of the children who attending these schools also benefitted from exposure to the arts as part of their family life: music or dance lessons, museum visits, theater-going.
Arts For All
The 2008 partnership was established with the specific aim of leveling the playing field and making arts education accessible to all students, especially those living in less-affluent communities and in communities of color. Beginning in 2008, the City of Seattle has invested $100,000 each year in the partnership, and the school district has matched these funds. In 2011, The Wallace Foundation awarded a $1 million planning grant to Seattle Public Schools. Part of this planning included focus groups throughout the city.
The Creative Advantage will give Seattle Public School students access to education in dance, theater, music, and visual arts. Re-branding the project signified the beginning of its implementation phase. The new name included a tag-line summing up the program: "Arts Education Now. Innovative Minds Tomorrow" (Creative Advantage website).