The Wallace Foundation Awards $7.7 Million to Support Seattle’s Arts Community

November 19, 2008

Contact: Mary Trudel
Senior Communications Officer
The Wallace Foundation
212-251-9815; 212-251-9785

The Wallace Foundation Awards $7.7 Million to Support Seattle’s Arts Community
Foundation grants Wallace Excellence Awards to nine organizations;
funds learning network with the Washington State Arts Commission
to enhance arts participation

Seattle, November 19, 2008 – The Wallace Foundation, the Washington State Arts Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs today announced an innovative, four-year arts funding partnership designed to foster growth in public arts attendance and to identify, develop and share useful lessons on how arts organizations can reach more people.

Nine Seattle arts organizations will receive $6.1 million in grants, and another $1.6 million will support audience building throughout the region. In recognition of their commitment to community and audience building activities, the Foundation is giving its prestigious Wallace Excellence Awards to Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, One Reel, On the Boards, Pacific Northwest Ballet Association, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Opera, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Youth Symphony and SIFF (Cinema Seattle). Each of these organizations will receive four-year grants ranging from $500,000 to $750,000. (More details on these organizations and their plans are provided at the end of this news release.)

The awards were announced today at the Seattle Art Museum by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, The Wallace Foundation President M. Christine DeVita and the Washington State Arts Commission Executive Director Kris Tucker.

“The Excellence Awards honor organizations that have made a commitment to engage more people deeply in the arts part of their DNA,” said DeVita. “We created these awards to shine national attention on the importance of drawing more people into the arts, to encourage organizations to sustain and expand the impact of their work with constituencies, and to generate an assortment of useful, broadly applicable lessons and practices that will be helpful to the field.”

“The arts make significant contributions to Seattle’s economy and to our high quality of life,” said Nickels. “We appreciate The Wallace Foundation’s recognition and its support of Seattle’s vibrant arts and cultural sector.”

“This generous and visionary support by The Wallace Foundation is an investment in the future of arts organizations in the region,” said Tucker.  “We are honored to be working with the Foundation to maximize this opportunity to benefit arts organizations and communities in Seattle and throughout the region.”

The Wallace Excellence Awards were created to support exemplary arts organizations to pioneer effective practices to engage more people in high-value arts activities. The awards are an important part of the Foundation’s efforts to develop and share effective ideas and practices for enhancing arts participation and bringing the benefits of the arts to all. In addition to the grant, each Excellence Awardee will also receive technical assistance to help better understand the attitudes, preferences and behaviors of the target groups the organization is trying to reach, to design more effective strategies for building participation and to gather reliable evidence on program effectiveness. 

In addition to giving the Excellence Award grants to nine arts organizations, the Foundation is partnering with the Washington State Arts Commission (WSAC) over the next four years (2009-2012) to create a learning network for all Puget Sound arts organizations and to foster arts engagement region-wide. The collaboration, funded by a grant of $1.6 million from the Foundation, will inform and support the participation-building work of many arts organizations.

This four-year initiative will strengthen local arts engagement by encouraging leading regional arts organizations to build arts participation among youth and young adults and diverse populations, reflecting the changing demographics of the Puget Sound region. The initiative will also strive to build the capacity of arts organizations to expand access to the arts through new technology. Work will begin with a convening of Seattle arts funding leaders including the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, 4Culture, ArtsFund, PONCHO, Paul Allen Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Grantmakers in the Arts and the Boeing Company, among others, to inform and advise the project. Twelve working papers/artistic responses will be commissioned over the four-year period addressing topics such as changing demographics, new technology solutions and regional trends in arts participation.

The initiative will bolster the region’s arts “eco-system” by adding knowledge-sharing resources and a small pool of project grant funds for local arts organizations to support technology upgrades and targeted outreach to diverse communities. The collaboration will promote the effective exchange of knowledge on and off-line – extending the benefits of this work to many other organizations beyond those that receive individual awards.

The Foundation takes a city-based approach to its arts funding to help improve arts engagement across whole communities. The Foundation chose Seattle as one of six sites for this effort because of the city’s high concentration and variety of arts organizations and the arts community’s robust collaboration. Minneapolis/St. Paul is the other site chosen for the Wallace Excellence Awards grants in 2008. Philadelphia and San Francisco were chosen in 2007, Chicago and Boston in 2006.

2008 Wallace Excellence Award recipients in Minneapolis/Saint Paul are:  MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Northern Clay Center, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

2007 Wallace Excellence Award recipients were:
In Philadelphia: Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Arden Theatre Company, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Clay Studio, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, Philadelphia Orchestra Association, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial and the Wilma Theatre

In San Francisco: Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, the Center for Asian American Media, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, ODC/San Francisco, San Francisco Girls Chorus, SF JAZZ, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Opera, World Arts West and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

2006 Wallace Excellence Award recipients were:
In Boston: The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Lyric Opera, From the Top, The Huntington Theatre Company, The Institute of Contemporary Art and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

In Chicago: The Beverly Arts Center, The Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Hyde Park Art Center, Merit School of Music, Music of the Baroque, Steppenwolf Theatre and the Victory Gardens Theater.


The Wallace Foundation
The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; improving out-of-school time learning opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts. The Foundation maintains a Knowledge Center of free publications on what it has learned at

The Washington State Arts Commission
Established in 1961, the Washington State Arts Commission is a state agency that advances and supports arts and culture in Washington State through leadership, knowledge, funding and resources that build participation in, and access to, the arts. For more information visit

Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture 
The Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs promotes the value of arts and culture in and of communities throughout Seattle. By fostering and investing in the creative contributions of our artist citizens to every facet of the community, we engage the creativity in every resident and build a healthy and vibrant Seattle.


Chris Nelson
Pyramid Communications

Mary Trudel
The Wallace Foundation

Mark Gerth
Washington State Arts Commission

Lori Patrick
Mayor's Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
(206) 684-7306


Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM) integrates art and technology to provide a multi-sensory exploration of contemporary culture, utilizing unique exhibition interactives, artifacts, interpretive materials, and rare audio/video content to actively engage visitors in diverse exhibition themes. The Museum holds several significant collections relating to Jimi Hendrix, early hip-hop, disco and blues, including an estimated 80 percent of all the physical music output (records, posters and instruments) produced in the Northwest in the 20th century, and over 500 science fiction objects on long-term loan. Since opening in 2000, EMP|SFM has welcomed more than 4 million visitors and has organized and presented 38 exhibitions, 10 of which have traveled nationally and internationally. The Museum reaches more than 90,000 participants annually through its education events and public programs, bringing artists, writers and academics in the fields of popular music, fiction, theater and film to interact with Seattle audiences, educators and students. 

EMP|SFM will receive $585,000 over four years to expand and enhance youth-driven programming, leveraging its unique collections and offerings to generate engaging online content. Using existing programs and activities, EMP|SFM will broaden and deepen local teen participation by developing a media lab that trains teens to film, record, edit, mix and upload museum content to the web. The initiative plans to engage youth in a multi-year program that supports age-appropriate developmental needs for artistic expression and satisfaction. Built into the program is a feedback loop designed to measure and evaluate the program’s impact, refine its execution, and share its results with other arts organizations. EMP|SFM seeks to explore the possibilities of re-defining the traditional role of a museum visitor by engaging its local youth community in the creation of “new media”-based opportunities for participation.

One Reel, founded as a traveling theatrical troupe in the early 1970's, is one of the Northwest's oldest, largest and most unusual non-profit arts organizations. The organization has evolved into a diverse, innovative and dynamic arts group that strives to be a cultural driver for the region. One Reel's evolving program of arts and cultural events, performances and activities span disciplines, genres and perspectives, from punk rock to spoken word, Shakespeare to hip hop. From signature festivals and music events like Bumbershoot, Seattle's Arts and Music Festival and the Summer Nights at the Pier concert series, to the zany theatrical pastiche of Teatro ZinZanni, the organization has created over 500 different projects that celebrate live performance, and presented its work to audiences that number over 8 million.

With its Excellence Award of $560,000, One Reel will explore new artistic territory to bring young adults into contact with the world of theater, music, and circus arts of Teatro ZinZanni. One Reel will offer a series of workshops for youth and young adults, designed to build skills and self confidence through one-on-one interaction with members of the rotating international artistic cast. Over the four-year grant period, the program will evolve and extend into master classes for college-age audiences, and internships and apprenticeships designed to reach underserved young adults. The program will include comedic performance, theater-craft, costume and circus arts, character development, storytelling and other aspects of live performance to connect with young people, ages 10 to 25.

On the Boards (OtB), founded by artists in 1978, strives to introduce Northwest audiences to international innovators in contemporary dance, theater and music while developing and presenting new work by promising performing artists in the region. The annual Inter/National Series presents pioneering contemporary performance artists from around the world. OtB also offers strong regionally-based programming that includes the Northwest Series of new evening-length works, the works-in-progress showcase NW New Works Festival and the monthly performance lab, 12 Minutes Max. Under the Boards are outreach programs that allow OtB to engage with audiences at a deeper level and include lectures, master classes, artist interviews, social opportunities for audiences and visiting artists plus rich, interactive online content.

On the Boards will receive $750,000 over four years to pilot and evaluate OtBTV – an expansion of OtB’s current efforts to build audiences for contemporary performance by adapting practices to include producing and distributing full-length, high-definition quality performances online and building community through complementary online tools. OtBTV is the continuation of several years of work in online community-building and will include three interrelated components: 1) recording and distributing performances online to grow new audiences and deepen relationships with existing audiences, 2) building an arts community via complementary online content, advertising and Seattle-based events, and 3) regularly monitoring audience engagement to refine programming and communications.

Founded in 1972, Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) has grown from a small regional troupe into a world-renowned company of 51 dancers with an annual budget of more than $20 million.  PNB is led by Artistic Director Peter Boal, who succeeded Founding Artistic Directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell in 2005. Since its founding, PNB has maintained its vision to “enrich lives in the Pacific Northwest, to be considered a national treasure and acclaimed worldwide, and to epitomize excellence in the performing arts.”  PNB presents 100 performances annually in six mixed-repertory and full-length programs as well as its annual holiday classic, Nutcracker. Each year PNB School offers a complete professional dance curriculum to more than 1,100 students and PNB’s DanceChance program provides free ballet training to more than 100 children from low-income, culturally diverse families. The Outreach and Education Department engages over 14,000 children and adults yearly in performance, appreciation and analysis of dance.

Pacific Northwest Ballet will receive $750,000 over four years to reengineer and redesign the PNB website, creating engaging online content to reduce practical barriers to participation and broaden participation among young adults in the Seattle area. Pacific Northwest Ballet strives to increase young adult attendance and retention, as measured by increased attendance of first-time patrons, as well as heightened audience retention rates. Pacific Northwest Ballet will evaluate the effectiveness of individual web features and promotion strategies through a combination of data analysis and qualitative research. The key goals of this project are to develop a new, user-friendly website, identify which strategies are most successful in attracting and retaining young adults, increase young adult participation by 40 percent, and increase sustained participation among young adults by 20 percent.

For 75 years, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has been a welcoming place for people to connect with art and consider its relationship to their lives. SAM is one museum in three locations: Seattle Art Museum downtown, the historic Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. At each of its sites, SAM serves its public with art installations of its diverse collection, special exhibitions featuring past and contemporary art, artists from around the world, dynamic public programs for adults, families and teens, and a full complement of museum experiences and curriculum resources for schoolchildren and educators.
SAM will receive $750,000 over four years to broaden and deepen participation by young adults (ages 18 to 35) in the museum. SAM will study how it can best serve young adults through research, data analysis and evaluation.  Consistent, entertaining “gateway” experiences combined with engaging programs will provide opportunities for young adults to become more involved with the museum. To reach the young adult audience, SAM will build partnerships with a diverse array of organizations and explore communications strategies, including targeted emails and social networking.

SIFF, formerly Cinema Seattle, is in its 35th year of presenting world cinema to audiences in the Pacific Northwest, striving to foster a community that is more informed, aware and alive. For many years SIFF has presented the largest film festival in the nation, screening hundreds of films, and bringing filmmakers from around the globe to meet enthusiastic cinephiles in Seattle. In March 2007 SIFF opened SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall and over 50,000 filmgoers attended screenings in the first year of operation. As part of the vitalization of the Seattle Center, SIFF is about to begin renovations on the Alki Room and create the SIFF Film Center, set to open in 2010. The Center will become a permanent home for SIFF to present extraordinary films from around the world.

SIFF will receive $750,000 over four years to develop a community outreach campaign designed to diversify and broaden its audience base. Through interactive technology and collaborative partnerships, SIFF will work with leading organizations in the community, breaking down barriers of distance and accessibility. The Wallace Excellence Award will enable SIFF to engage more young urbanites, ethnic minorities, and children and families via an enhanced Internet presence, online social networking and digital programming.

Seattle Opera is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. Founded in 1963, the company is recognized internationally for its theatrically compelling and musically accomplished performances, especially the Opera’s interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner. Led by General Director Speight Jenkins, Seattle Opera presents the classics of the European repertoire as well as new works of American opera. The company has attained, on an opera-by-opera basis, the highest per capita attendance of any major opera company in the United States. Seattle Opera draws opera-goers from four continents, 19 countries and 50 states. In addition to serving high numbers of people through its mainstage offerings, Seattle Opera serves thousands more through its groundbreaking education programs, building sets for other companies and a wide variety of special projects.

Seattle Opera will receive $750,000 over four years, to create a technology infrastructure to increase accessibility to opera. The funding will allow Seattle Opera to create opportunities for new and existing audiences, especially 15- to 40-year-olds to interact and form communities, not only within the opera house but in a variety of non-traditional venues. This initiative has been divided into four years. The first year will focus on Story-telling Through Technology, utilizing Seattle Opera’s internationally-renowned production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle as a vehicle to form virtual communities. The second year will employ the world premiere of Amelia, Seattle Opera’s first commissioned American opera, to create Community Connections Through Technology, which will establish collaborative relationships with community groups and other arts organizations. In year three with Experiencing Place Through Technology, Seattle Opera will capitalize on the opening of the company’s new Opera Center and the debut of plaza-casts to introduce the public to the art of making opera. In year four, Refining, Evaluating and Sharing Technology Applications will evaluate the success of the previous years’ activities through focus groups and surveys, with the ultimate goal of producing lessons that can be shared with other arts organizations.

Seattle Repertory Theatre was founded in 1963 by a group of civic leaders who envisioned a local, professional theater company to rival New York’s best. The vision and tenacity of those leaders made Seattle Rep one of the few regional theaters to spring from a community desire rather than the impulse of an individual artist. Over 40 years later, having been awarded the 1990 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre continues to bring the finest theater artists – directors, playwrights, designers and actors –  together in the same spirit and commitment to excellence as it stages a nine-play season composed of great classics and outstanding contemporary works in two theater spaces. Seattle Rep reaches 140,000 audience members each year through its mainstage productions, new play workshops and audience outreach programs. In addition, Seattle Rep serves approximately 5,500 Washington middle and high school students through a comprehensive series of matinees and short- and long-term innovative, interactive residencies.

Seattle Repertory Theatre will receive a grant of $750,000 over four years to develop and market eight new three-play Social Subscription pilot programs to young parents, singles and members of affinity groups. They will also increase participation in two existing programs that serve under-40 professionals and school teachers. Pre- and post-season focus groups and surveys will investigate if and how adding a social experience to a performance increases patrons’ satisfaction with and connection to the work on stage. The planned social experiences will vary from pre-show gatherings to artist presentations, as appropriate for each group. Seattle Rep will work with a technology consultant to maximize online ticketing and sales capabilities for all Social Subscription participants. Over the grant period, more than 1,500 new and returning subscribers are expected to participate in these programs.    

Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras (SYSO), founded in 1942, is the United States’ largest youth symphony organization, providing high quality, long-term, direct involvement in the study and performance of classical music to over 1,100 students annually. One of Seattle’s oldest and most respected cultural institutions, SYSO provides life changing musical experiences for talented students in the Pacific Northwest, regardless of their financial resources. SYSO helps students develop their relationship to great music, expand their capacity for self discipline and focus, learn the value of community and teamwork, and continuously acquire new musical skills with professional artist teachers. SYSO alumni play in every major orchestra in the United States and hold leadership positions in the major orchestras and opera companies of Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and New York. They also perform in the leading ensembles of London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Milan, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras will receive $500,000 over four years to broaden its partnership with Seattle Public Schools and to increase participation of African-American and Latino students. This program, titled SYSO-in-the-Schools, which introduces new instrumental music programs in elementary schools, is expected to increase the number of middle-school orchestra programs available to Seattle students and generate growth in SYSO enrollment, expanding the pool of public school musicians. SYSO will also use its Wallace Excellence Award to study the impact of participation in its programs on student musician behavior and achievement.