Seattle Arts & Lectures cultivates transformative experiences through story and language with readers and writers of all generations.

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.

Equity

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.
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Youth Programs

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  • 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.

Public Programs

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  • 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.

Development

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  • 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.
  • Regularly engaged in resources focused on equity issues in fundraising to learn more about how we can integrate racial equity and social justice into fundraising at SAL. This includes the Community-Centric Fundraising group (including their Aligned Actions Tool), the Advancement NW 2021 Annual Conference, which focused entirely on equity and social and racial justice issues, the Nonprofit AF blog with Vu Le, and the Nonprofit Quarterly.

Administration

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  • 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.

History

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.

Read our statement on the Black Lives Matter movement here.

Staff

Woogee Bae

Events & Annual Giving Manager

Letitia Cain

Marketing Coordinator

Amanda Carrubba

Finance & Operations Director

Alicia Craven

Director of Education

Piper Daugharty

WITS Program Associate

Bre’Anna Girdy

WITS Program Coordinator

Christina Gould

Patron Services Manager

Rebecca Hoogs

Interim Executive Director

Leanne Skooglund

Development Director

Alison Stagner

Interim Public Programs Director

Board of Directors

Opportunities

Now hiring!

Executive Director

Since 1987, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) has cultivated transformative experiences through story and language with readers and writers of all generations across the greater Puget Sound region, providing opportunities to engage with the most compelling writers and cultural thinkers of our day. We envision a future in which story and language continuously and courageously revitalize equity, justice, and belonging.

SAL seeks a forward-thinking, innovative Executive Director who will galvanize and inspire students, staff, community members, and the regional public in a collaborative vision for SAL that reflects innovative approaches to identifying and engaging new live and digital audiences. Reporting to the Board, the Executive Director will be responsible for SAL’s consistent achievement of its mission, programs, administration, and financial objectives. This natural relationship-builder will have excellent interpersonal and communication skills as well as an ability to work constructively and collegially with a diverse constituency and community.

 

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Donor Relations Associate

To support SAL’s annual development plan, strategic objectives, and revenue goals, SAL is looking for a people-centered, mission-driven, goal-motivated, data savvy, reading-and-writing enthusiast to be SAL’s Donor Relations Associate. Reporting to the Development Director, the Donor Relations Associate will be responsible for coordinating SAL’s multi-faceted efforts to foster and sustain long-term, meaningful relationships with our many supporters through thoughtful cultivation of community donors, careful stewardship of all donors’ contributions, helping to engage donors in SAL’s mission and programs, and inspiring them with all that their support makes possible.

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Press + Media

Seattle Arts & Lectures Announces 2021/22 Season Featuring Louise Erdrich, Cathy Park Hong, Daniel James Brown, Richard Powers, & More

June 7, 2021

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 sale for 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 Arts & Lectures Announces 2020/21 Youth Poet Laureate Bitaniya Giday to Publish Her First Book in June 2021

May 28, 2021

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.

Seattle Arts & Lectures Names Ijeoma Oluo and Jack Straw Cultural Center as 8th Annual Prowda Literary Champions

March 25, 2021

Seattle, WA—March 25, 2021: Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) announced today the winners of the eighth annual Prowda Literary Champion Awards: Ijeoma Oluo, for her work on the Seattle Artist Relief Fund, and Jack Straw Cultural Center.

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. Each year, the award celebrates the individuals and organizations that make Seattle an outstanding place for writers and readers.

 

Contact SAL

We welcome your questions and comments. If you would like to learn more, or wish to share something with us, please contact us.