Seattle Office of Arts & Culture announces The Creative Advantage on August 30, 2013.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 12/05/2013
  • Essay 10679
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On August 30, 2013, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture announces The Creative Advantage, a partnership between Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Arts Commission, and The Seattle Foundation.  The goal of The Creative Advantage is to provide all students in Seattle public schools with access to a continuum of arts classes by 2020.  

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).

Sources: Seattle Office of Arts & Culture website accessed November 26, 2013 (; Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Seattle Arts Commission/Office of Arts & Culture" (by Peter Blecha, revised and updated by Paula Becker), (accessed October 12, 2013); The Creative Advantage website accessed October 15, 2013 (; Jonathan Zwickel, "Creative Class," City Arts website accessed November 26, 2013 (; "The Arts," Seattle Public Schools website accessed November 26, 2013 (; "Mayor's Arts Awards Honor Raft of Local Luminaries," The Seattle Times, September 3, 2013, p. B-1.

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