• What is meant by the term ‘arts ecosystem’?

  • The arts sector is a complex web of organizational and individual relationships. This set of linkages is sometimes formal and intentional, but often naturally occurring. These connections enable the mobilization of human, financial, and other resources. The creative work of individual artists –singly and with each other-- is foundational, and joined by the creation of nonprofits, for-profit businesses, and governmental entities engaged with artistic production, presentation, education, funding, facilities, distribution, and more. The arts flourish, struggle, and evolve within an interdependent system.

    Seattle is a relatively young city sitting on land with a long and rich history of indigenous culture. The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair was catalytic in creating new arts entities and events and serves as the threshold for this project’s exploration. A focus on this timeframe permits research based on first-hand experience. Over time, this project will document and examine the many interconnecting spheres that shape the arts ecosystem in the region

  • Why is this research important?

  • There is an urgent need to collect information while many of the individuals involved are able contribute to the documentation and understanding of the legacy and lineage of this still young and vibrant arts ecosystem. The Arts Ecosystem Research Project is collecting data directly from the individuals who participated in this period of dynamic growth of arts, heritage, and cultural organizations, businesses and events. Research undertaken now can provide a foundation for a more nuanced and holistic understanding of the sector, and set the stage for further research to inform the future of the sector.

  • The Timeline is missing important events, businesses, and organizations active in the Seattle region between 1962 and 2012. How will it be filled in?

  • AERP is an ongoing research project. Additional data is added each year based on research collected by Seattle University Arts Leadership graduate students. The research method captures the lived experience of individuals who personally participated in the development of this ecosystem. The Timeline and case studies reflect student analysis of the data, under the guidance of faculty and Community Advisors. New entries are added as a diverse range of arts leaders share their perspectives on what should be added to the Timeline. A future phase of the project is expected to investigate beyond 2012

  • How are individuals selected to participate in this research? How are Timeline entries selected?

  • AERP Community Advisors and project faculty identified an initial group of current and past arts leaders from across the cultural spectrum to be interviewed and surveyed by students. These individuals shared their varied perspectives on pivotal and noteworthy organizations, businesses, and events that they believe have had the greatest impact on Seattle’s arts ecosystem from 1962 to 2012.

    A limited number of individuals are the focus of research each year, based on project capacity, with additional names added from the data collected. Qualitative data is collected, analyzed, and then vetted by AERP Community Advisors prior to being listed on the Timeline or included in the digital repository. An entry on the Timeline indicates that at least three sources have identified the importance of the entry to the Seattle arts ecosystem. AERP research focuses on organizations, businesses, and events that have been important to the evolution of the arts ecosystem in the region rather than on individual artists or arts leaders.

  • What criteria are used for an entity to be included on the timeline?

  • The following inclusion criteria are used, as developed by AERP Advisors, working with students. Each potential Timeline entry is reviewed and assessed to see that it meets at least two of the following criteria:

    • Changed or significantly advanced the Seattle – local or regional-- arts ecosystem.
    • Had a significant impact on local or regional culture, trends, or social attitudes.
    • Filled a community void or need in the Seattle region arts ecosystem, including access for specific communities.
    • Developed and implemented a new or different structure, presentation, or product in the arts, regionally or nationally.
    • Had a significant impact on the arts field or an arts discipline, and/or instigated new levels of creative artistic work regionally or nationally.
    • Served as a catalyst for future arts organizations/businesses/events in Seattle, to which one or more entity traces its lineage.

  • How can I share a suggestion for this project?

  • You can send a brief message by going to the Contact page. All messages are archived and will be periodically reviewed by the AERP Community Advisors and project faculty. A reminder that additions to the Timeline go through the process explained above. We are not able to respond to all messages due to the limitations of staff resources but be assured that your comment has been logged and reviewed.

  • How can I support the Arts Ecosystem Research Project?

  • Your support is needed and appreciated! This project is built on the generous time and insights provided by community members who are contacted by student researchers. Additionally, financial contributions are essential for the timely growth and maintenance of this project. Friends of the Arts Ecosystem Research Project, an associated program of Shunpike, channels financial support for this research. Your donations make possible stipends for student research practicums, editorial services, honoraria for community advisors, project management, commissioned articles, and greatly expands the capacity of AERP to advance and share this research. Click here to make a donation.

    Baseline support comes from Seattle University. The MFA in Arts Leadership’s annual Applied Research Seminar provides graduate students whose research contributes content each year, and Lemieux Library contributes significant resources to develop and maintain the website, the digital timeline and repository, and AERP digital archives. To provide support through Seattle University, please contact Katie Chapman, Director of Development, College of Arts and Sciences

  • I have archives or materials related to an arts organizations, business, or event in the Seattle region. Does the Arts Ecosystem Research Project collect these?

  • The Arts Ecosystem Research Project is focused on creating a digital timeline and repository with the Lemieux Library at Seattle University rather than collection of physical materials. The donation of physical materials may be possible at one of the following regional archives and repositories that we work in partnership with. These institutions actively collect materials related to arts and culture in the Seattle region, and provide AERP access. You are encouraged to contact them directly.

    • Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) collects materials directly related to Seattle and the Puget Sound region. Please see the “Donate an Artifact” information on their website, which also covers the MOHAI Research Library Collection. There is more information about what they collect, and a form for starting the artifact donation process at https://mohai.org/collections-and-research/#donate

    • Seattle Public Library, Special Collections collects material related to Seattle and King County including photographs, posters, sheet music, books, oral histories, archives of organizations, newsletters/publications of organizations, ephemera, etc. They are particularly interested in material related to individual artists and to local arts organizations. For more information please contact the Curator of the Seattle Collection, Ann Ferguson at ann.ferguson@spl.org or via mail at Special Collections, Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104

    • University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections include the Pacific Northwest Collection, Historical Visual Materials, Book Arts & Rare Books, and archival collections and library materials relating to the history, culture, and people of the Pacific Northwest and the history of the University of Washington. The Special Collections Division accepts donations of materials that fit into the scope of their collection policy and may be contacted at (206) 543-1929. Please see https://www.lib.washington.edu/specialcollections/about