Looking In, Looking Out: Equity at 4Culture

Working with mentor artists, King County youth engage in intensive art practice centered around race and incarceration as part of our Creative Justice program, now in its third year. Photo by Timothy Aguero.

As we, like many cultural organizations, wrestle with how to become a more equitable* agency, transparency is key. Being open about this process helps us improve, holds us accountable, and builds community around equity work. In that spirit, we’re sharing some of the work we’re doing to transform the way we serve King County:

Internal Equity: Transforming How We Work

These are all efforts we’re making to change the way our staff works, every day—we feel strongly that equity should be woven into the fabric of our organization.

Beyond Integrity
Our Preservation team is facilitating an effort to ensure the places we honor as historic landmarks tell a complete and inclusive story. In a field where architectural significance is often emphasized over cultural significance, we’ve identified several sites of value to marginalized communities and are in the early stages of working to protect them.

Racial Equity Training
Working with Norma Timbang and Scott Winn—educators and activists with decades of experience—4Culture staff and board have begun a year-long training series around racial equity, with a goal of becoming an organization that is actively working to dismantle racism. So far, we’ve completed two groundwork sessions, with training on implicit bias coming soon.

Cultural Access Consortium
This task force of cultural funding organizations and community agencies began meeting in 2017 to identify ways to broaden access to cultural programs for people with cognitive, intellectual, behavioral, emotional, and physical disabilities. Participating organizations currently include ArtsFund, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 4Culture, and the Washington State Fathers Network, a program of Kindering.

Website Accessibility
After launching our new mobile-friendly website last year, our Communications team worked with a Technology Accessibility Specialist at the University of Washington, to assess the site’s accessibility for users with disabilities. Among other changes, the site is now more compatible with screen readers.

External Equity: Serving All of King County

An essential start to equity work is recognizing that many communities have been excluded from the cultural field in general, and underserved by our programs. These offerings begin to address those inequities.

Arc Artist Fellowship
This annual fellowship helps offset costs of living for artists in King County, with a new cohort of Arc Fellows selected each year. This year, Arc was open to artists with physical, developmental, cognitive, intellectual, and emotional disabilities—this focus will change annually, and Fellows will help shape the program for subsequent years.

Artists Up
Artists Up is a collaborative effort between 4Culture and the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture to expand capacity and networks for artists in our region. The program works to support artists of color and artists from other marginalized communities with resources, services, and programs.

Community 4Culture aims to better sustain an arts and cultural community that reflects King County’s diverse population. This grant has an ongoing deadline, a more flexible application process, and supports community-based groups with both funding and technical assistance.

Creative Forces
4Culture staff serves on Washington State’s Creative Forces Task Force, a federal initiative that places arts therapies at the core of care at 11 military medical facilities across the country. Through this work, we seek to expand creative opportunities and therapeutic support for veterans residing in King County.

Creative Justice
This arts-based program builds community with youth who are most impacted by mass incarceration. Under the guidance of mentor artists, court-involved young people stay out of jail and in their communities, focusing on the positive role their voices can have in building a more equitable society.

Hello 4Culture
4Culture staff hold office hours every third Tuesday of the month in different locations throughout King County to answer questions about our programs and reach more people.

Individuals and organizations who have never been funded by 4Culture can apply for this program. It’s designed to be an introduction to our process, with a simplified application and ongoing deadline.

Poetry on Buses
This public art program celebrates diverse poetic traditions and creates a more inclusive record of local voices in a vital shared space—the bus. Out of our work with community liaisons and in bilingual workshops, poems from King County residents across ages, backgrounds, and languages are presented on transit and online.

Rural Internships
4Culture is providing four paid internships to graduate students to work at all-volunteer heritage organizations located outside the city of Seattle. The Neely Mansion and the Tolt Historical Society are host sites for interns this year.

*We define equity as a system in which everyone has access to what they need to be successful—it recognizes and celebrates our differences.