Seattle Arts & Lectures cultivates transformative experiences through story and language with readers and writers of all generations.
Our programs include
The Literary Arts Series presents talks and conversations with the leading fiction and non-fiction writers of our time.
Ijeoma Oluo Presents: Our Existence Beyond Trauma
SAL’s brand new three-part community-curated series is curated in 2021/22 by writer Ijeoma Oluo and presented in partnership with Langston Seattle.
The Poetry Series presents established and emerging poets for readings and lectures.
Created by journalists for protectors of free press in 2018, SAL’s three-part Journalism Series is in partnership with National Book Award-winning writer and correspondent Tim Egan and renowned journalist Sam Howe Verhovek.
Women You Need to Know (WYNK)
Women You Need to Know (WYNK) is a three-part series that features and celebrates feminist authors, artists, icons, trouble-makers, and visionaries.
SAL Presents features authors, artists, and prominent thinkers discussing their latest works, as well as other exciting literary surprises.
From pop culture to social justice, Hinge presents new books by and for the next generation via accessible ticket prices.
Writers in the Schools (WITS)
SAL’s Writers in the Schools (WITS) program places professional local writers in public elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, empowering young people to discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices. Since 1994, WITS has served over 100,000 students throughout the Puget Sound region.
Every summer, we partner with The Seattle Public Library to create a Book Bingo card for our free summer reading program. Adults and kids play along from May – September to be entered in a chance to win fabulous prizes.
Youth Poet Laureate
The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) and Urban Word NYC. Founded in Seattle in 2015 by WITS writers Matt Gano and Aaron Counts, the YPL program aims to identify youth writers and leaders who are committed to poetry and performance, civic and community engagement, education and equity across the Puget Sound region.
The Prowda Literary Champion Award is named for Sherry Prowda, SAL’s founder and first Executive Director. It was created to honor Prowda’s vision of a future in which imaginative acts such as reading, writing, and creative thinking are indispensable to a curious, engaged, democratic society, and her leadership as a champion of the literary arts.
Vision & Values
SAL envisions a future in which story and language continuously and courageously revitalize equity, justice, and belonging.
Belonging. We believe access is core to belonging, and we bring an intersectional lens to breaking down historical and societal forces that create and enforce racial, economic, access, and geographic barriers. We strive to foster spaces where all community members feel valued, invited, and welcomed in a spirit of mutual inspiration and exchange.
Racial Equity. We bring an anti-racist lens to all of our programmatic and budgetary decisions to work against the historical and present-day effects of white supremacy. We prioritize, amplify, and celebrate the voices, stories, and lived experiences of writers and readers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the community and beyond.
Transparency & Trust. We build trust through transparency in our processes, decision-making, follow-through, and accountability. We prioritize thoughtful, intentional action; responsiveness over reactivity; and regular, open, and honest communication centered on community feedback.
Curiosity. We cultivate curiosity—in our audiences, students, staff, and community members—by providing opportunities for wonder and learning that are rooted in humility and make visionary futures possible.
Joy. We value the joy forged through individual acts of reading and writing and the connection and community created through the sharing of stories.
Seattle Arts & Lectures is striving towards racial equity at all times, in all parts of our organization. And, though we will inevitably make mistakes, we commit to telling you what we’ve been doing in this area going forward. To be transparent about this important work, twice a year—in July and in January—we will share how racial equity has shaped our efforts over the previous six months. To read our July 1, 2021 Racial Equity Accountability Report, click the button below.
July 1, 2021 Racial Equity Accountability Report
A little over a year ago, George Floyd was murdered as the world watched. Knowing the fate of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black lives lost to racial hatred called each of us to reckon with our part in an unjust system. And, like many other organizations, Seattle Arts & Lectures expressed our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We expressed our outrage and our heartbreak, and we also clarified what we had—too quietly—been working on. We committed to saying aloud, to you, how we are moving forward in our journey to becoming an anti-racist organization.
We would like to share with you the first of what will be regular racial equity accountability updates to come. Each of our four teams highlighted the top three actions, areas of work, or long-term opportunities for change that our staff have worked on over the last year.
We feel deep gratitude towards those who have contributed time and emotional labor into providing SAL with feedback. We hope that this update provides a doorway, rather than a window, into anti-racist actions at SAL, and the many ways that literature, storytelling, and words can bring joy, hope, and justice to the process of dismantling white supremacy culture. We invite your questions, comments, and conversation, as always. And we are grateful for all the ways you stay curious as we learn and grow together. .
Prioritized additional Writers in the Schools (WITS) subsidies (on top of the typical sliding scale contribution, in which SAL provides 60-95% of the actual program cost) to historically underfunded schools serving majority populations of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. This year, 10 of our 23 partnering public schools serve 50% or more students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals and 58% or more students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Extended our 3-year pilot program with schools new to the WITS program with the highest free and reduced-price meal rates—extending the additional SAL subsidy of the pilot program throughout this school closure year to provide long-term investments and build partnership and trust in the WITS program.
Invested in ongoing race and equity professional development training opportunities for WITS writers—both for current writers and to build pipelines for future WITS writer development. This included supporting the development of an Indigenous literature and land-based pedagogy curriculum and budgeting for a WITS writer apprentice program in the coming year.
Followed through with our continued commitment to ensure at least 50% of our speakers identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color, and curated a season that held many conversations about racial equity and justice, as well as Black, Indigenous, and people of color creativity, joy, and thought. Planned the launch of a paid, guest-curated community series to share curatorial power with Black, Indigenous, and writers of color.
Partnered with CD Forum to co-present and split revenue for an event with Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, which celebrated their anthology, Black Futures. Partnered with Marguerite Casey Foundation to present two free community events centered on anti-racism with Heather McGhee (The Sum of Us) and Dorothy A. Brown (The Whiteness of Wealth).
In an effort to begin addressing the intersections of class and racism at SAL, we opened up a new $10 reduced-price ticket level at 84% of our events. We committed to offering digital access for every event going forward, which lowers social, physical, and economic barriers to access.
Focused on using a strengths-based approach in our fundraising communications that does not perpetuate racial stereotypes or tokenization in our printed and online materials, event programs, or videos. Spent thoughtful time with the students, writers, and community members we invite to participate in our fundraising to thoroughly explain the context, goals, and audience of each event.
In conversations with donors and funders, we were explicit about SAL’s commitment to anti-racism and racial equity, and that the need to provide competitive salaries and benefits to our staff is an equity issue.
Engaged the entire team in a facilitated session with racial equity consultants Kyana Wheeler and Diana Falchuk in the fall of 2020. The full staff has contracted to work with Kyana and Diana since 2018, and the Leadership Team has worked with Diana several times a year since 2019 to specifically address leading with an equity lens as an all-white, all-female Leadership Team.
Organized white affinity learning groups for white staff to better understand and interrogate our own roles in perpetuating systems of oppression and structural racism, and dedicated the same financial resources to our Black, Indigenous, and staff of color to support their wellness and professional development as they see fit.
Spent the year in deep staff conversations to determine our organizational values, intentionally slowing down the process and examining each value through an equity lens.
Devoted time for each team, on a biweekly basis, to discuss readings, articles, books, and podcasts that are informing our efforts to incorporate equity and anti-racism into our particular work areas and all of our work together.
Seattle Arts & Lectures was founded in 1987 and launched its first season in 1988 with John Updike, Calvin Trillin, Donald Barthelme, Louise Erdrich, Isabel Allende, and Rosamond Bernier. See our full archive of past events here.
In 1994, SAL brought the nationally-recognized Writers in the Schools to Seattle—an educational program that places local professional writers in public school classrooms to develop skills and spark student interest in reading and writing. The Poetry Series, featuring such notables as Philip Levine and Anne Carson, debuted in 2000. Hinge, inaugurated in the 2014/15 season, presents new books by and for the next generation at accessible ticket prices. In the 2015/16 season, SAL introduced Women You Need to Know (WYNK), a three-part series designed to showcase cutting-edge, thought-provoking women. It opened with the graphic novelist and Tony Award winner, Alison Bechdel. Summer Book Bingo, also launched in 2015, is a partnership with the Seattle Public Library to present a free summer reading program for adults (Kids Book Bingo, a program of SAL alone, was launched in 2017). In the 2018/19 season, SAL debuted a three-part Journalism Series in partnership with National Book Award-winning writer and correspondent Timothy Egan and renowned journalist Sam Howe Verhovek.
As Seattle has grown in size and sophistication, SAL has kept pace and helped engage, inspire, and connect our growing community. In 2019/20 alone, over 29,000 SAL attendees had accessible, meaningful experiences with the foremost writers and thinkers of our time through SAL programming. 13% of SAL tickets were provided at very low or no cost to community members who otherwise cannot afford to purchase tickets. In the 2020/21 season SAL launched $10 tickets at most events as well as digital access for all events in response to COVID-19.
Our Writers in the Schools program matches accomplished creative writers with local K-12 public schools and hospitals for year-long writing residencies. In 2019/20, nearly 5,000 students worked with a WITS Writer-in-Residence in 180 classrooms at 32 schools and via 2 programs at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Seattle, WA—JULY 27, 2021: Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) has added Billie Jean King and Peter Wohlleben to the SAL Presents series of special events for their 2021/22 season line-up. In addition, “Ijeoma Oluo Presents: Our Existence Beyond Trauma,” has added two events: Patrisse Cullors and Sonya Renee Taylor. The Journalism Series has also added a third event with EdYong. The Literary Arts Series event with Lauren Groff will now be offered in-person and online, with a new date and time: October 17, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. (PT). Additionally, the event with Jelani Cobb, part of the Journalism Series, will now be offered in-person and online, with a new date and time: November 3, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. (PT).
All Subscriptions, select Single Tickets, and all Digital Passes on sale now; all In-Person Single Tickets go on sale August 9.
Seattle, WA—JUNE 7, 2021: Today, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) announced their 2021/22 Season at 10:00 AM (PT). A new 3-part series curated by Ijeoma Oluo launches and all season tickets include online streaming option. Subscriptions are now on salefor all 2021/22 series including the Literary Arts Series, Ijeoma Oluo Presents: Our Existence Beyond Trauma Series, Journalism Series, Poetry Series, and Women You Need to Know (WYNK) Series, as well as a 15-part Super SAL subscription for those who want maximum SAL inspiration. Four-part Create Your Own Series subscriptions, select In-Person Single Tickets, and all Single Digital Passes will go on sale July 12.
Seattle, WA—May 28, 2021:Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) is thrilled to announce the June 2021 release of Motherland, the first collection of poetry by the 2020/21 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, Bitaniya Giday, published by Poetry NW Editions. This week, in a pre-recorded online event as part of the 2021 Folk Life Festival, Bitaniya will answer questions regarding her inspirations, her approach towards poetry, and how her writing has evolved throughout the publication process. This event will also reveal the 2021/22 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate and debut the full 2021/22 Youth Poet Laureate cohort on lectures.org.