2015 Centennial video shoot © 2014, courtesy of Dunn Gardens

One of five lawns at the historic Dunn Gardens that will be cared for by a brand new mower. © 2014, courtesy of Dunn Gardens

When you take an art class, see a play, or check out an exhibit, it can be easy to overlook all the tools that go into making those experiences possible—but for the organizations who put them on, equipment is critical. Through our Cultural Equipment grant, we help fund the things that get used day-in and day-out. They’re not always the most glamorous—kiosks, shelving, data servers—but in the hands of King County’s cultural organizations, they make a big impact. We just awarded our 2016 Cultural Equipment grants! Here are a few highlights:

The Arab Center of Washington noticed something missing from their otherwise successful 2015 Arab Festival at Seattle Center: performances by youth. To promote Arab arts among our region’s young people, the ACW has partnered with Waseem Sbait, a local musician, and Laila Taji, a community organizer, to offer classes centered around the derbekkeh, a durable and kid-friendly drum. After piloting an Arabic derbekkeh class this spring with a small group of preschoolers using borrowed drums, Waseem, Laila, and the ACW are ready to expand. Using their Equipment grant, they’ll purchase 10 derbekkeh drums and plan to offer a 4-week class this fall!

Every week, the Grounds Manager at the historic Dunn Gardens faces a daunting task: mowing 65,000 square feet of grass across five different lawns using a 16-year-old lawnmower. Additionally, in the fall months, that same mower is also used to clean up and shred fallen leaves which, together with the grass clippings, is used to make a mulch compost that nurtures the large planting beds originally designed by the famous Olmsted brothers in 1916. After many years of service, the lawnmower will be retired, and replaced by a John Deere 1023E Sub-Compact Utility Tractor, which will be able to support the work of preserving this piece of Seattle’s past.

Seattle Children’s Theatre, along with many other King County theaters, are doing the critical work of making their performances accessible to hearing-impaired attendees. SCT’s current Assistive Listening System is more than 20 years old and soon to be discontinued, but with help from an Equipment grant, this year they’ll replace it with Hearing Loop technology in both of their theatres. The process, which involves moving and then restoring some seats and carpeted areas to accommodate the equipment, will ensure a full and high quality audio experience for all hearing-impaired patrons at SCT. Look for the system to be up and running in time for SCT’s new season in October!

See the full list of this year’s Cultural Equipment grant recipients!