A Conversation with Debra Webb

Debra Webb   

Why have you decided to be part of CSTL’s advisory board?

I have joined the CSTL's advisory board to promote learning opportunities for our students, faculty, and alumni that are rooted in culture, storytelling, and creative agency. I seek to be a bridge between the university, the arts sector, and the technology sector.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is living your values in action.

Can you tell us more about how you are serving the arts community as the Founder of Future Arts?

I firmly believe that the arts have the power to amplify, agitate, educate, inspire, and heal our most pressing social injustices. I have dedicated my creative career to building strategic cross-sector partnerships that bridge art + technology + community.

In 2010, as a graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership program at Seattle University, I had the opportunity to bring my academic learning into sharp focus with applied research and community engagement as one of the founding advisory board members of Yesler Terrace Youth Media in partnership with Claire Garoutte, Assistant Professor and Director of Photography at Seattle University, Seattle Housing Authority, City of Seattle, and youth residents of the Yesler Terrace community. In 2010, the neighborhood began a 15-year redevelopment. In response to neighborhood gentrification, we launched Yesler Terrace Youth Media to promote youth-led community activism through the arts. The youth summer program ran from 2010 - 2017.

art Photo by Emran Nuru

I continued my interest in new media arts and arts activism by co-founding Future Arts in 2021. The mission of Future Arts is to unleash a pulse of togetherness by cultivating cultural, conversational, and creative disruptions through art, technology, and community. Artists are storytellers, interpreters, agitators, and healers. When we apply innovations in technology to amplify creative voices, visually document history in new ways, and promote social and cultural cohesion across generations, we can witness broader impact when we leverage technology in the arts. In 2022, Future Arts partnered with Seattle-based artist Michelle Kumata, filmmaker Tani Ikeda, and Meta Open Arts to produce Emerging Radiance. Emerging Radiance is a film, public art installation, and augmented reality project which honors the untold stories of Japanese American farmers who lived in Bellevue from 1920-1942. The farmers transformed unusable land into a thriving and prosperous community until they were forcibly uprooted and incarcerated, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans during WWII. The project won the prestigious Tribeca Festival Immersive award 2022.

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