News / Blog

Get to Know Our Workshop Leaders: Leilani Lewis, Pt. 1

Aaron Jin

Communications Intern

We’re excited to start a new blog series to help you get to know our fantastic guest workshop leaders! There’s no better person to kick this off with than our first guest presenter: Leilani Lewis.

Who is Leilani: Arts educator and communications strategist in the greater Seattle area

Favorite place to eat in Seattle: My favorite chefs right now are Chef Tarik Abdullah and Kristi Brown-Wokoma

Defining characteristic: I’m a hard worker. People also tell me I’m very easy-going; I don’t see it but I’m like “oh, okay”

Fun fact: I once fell down 54 times while attempting to snow board. My friends counted.

Role model: Barbara Earl Thomas. She’s just amazing.

One thing you want to see in Seattle: I want our arts and cultural community to thrive. I want to see artists who can afford to live in the city, work in the city, and be appreciated, especially artists of color and underrepresented groups of artists. We’ll lose our artists if we don’t think about equity and especially affordability. What kind of city will we be without our artists?

As the first generation in her family to go to college and to graduate school, Leilani never felt particularly beholden to any linear trajectory in her career. In her first workshop “Developing Your Elevator Speech & Professional Relationships,” attendees can expect to experience some of these principles in action.

As a communications professional, Leilani knows how important it is for a person to talk about their work in a way that others will quickly and easily grab onto. This comes from speaking about your work in a way that is clear yet personal. She believes in the power of people using their own words to describe what they do. In Saturday’s workshop, Leilani will guide attendees through exercises in focusing on the words they want to use before practicing their elevator speeches in a safe, uplifting environment.

As someone who has only spent 10-15 years working in the Seattle arts community, Leilani considers herself an outlier among her peers. Her work in communications at the Northwest African American Museum led her to her current work with the University of Washington developing and advancing communications strategy for the UW President’s Race and Equity Initiative. She is guided through it all by a commitment to her community and a dedication to upholding the individual artist. Stay tuned for the second part of this series for an extended interview with Leilani to learn what “authentic collaboration” means in working with communities and how her arts background led her to a career in communications!

“Developing Your Elevator Speech & Professional Relationships” is presented for free in partnership with Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas and is recommended especially for artists of color. RSVP here:

EDGE Grad Asia Tail on Artist Trust’s Professional Development Programs

Megan Gallagher

Content Contributor

Asia Tail, Swallow Follow, Oil on canvas , 48 x 48", 2016.

Asia Tail (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) is a Tacoma-based painter and arts administrator whose work has been featured in New American Paintings, and exhibitions including the Tacoma Art Museum’s Northwest Art Now @ TAM and Vermillion Art Gallery’s Women on the Brink. She has served as a panelist and juror for several arts awards in the Seattle area, and currently works as the Arts Program Coordinator for Tacoma’s Office of Arts and Cultural Vitality.

After completing her BFA at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, Asia returned to her hometown of Tacoma. She was a Haub Fellow at the Tacoma Art Museum from 2014 to 2016, and developed the museum’s Contemporary Native Voices project as part of her fellowship. The project integrated commentary on Native American representation in art from over 20 Native individuals into the museum’s galleries. In 2016, she also curated Protect the Sacred: Native Artists for Standing Rock at Tacoma’s Spaceworks Gallery. The exhibition featured work from more than 20 Native artists and benefited the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) resistance.

In the same year, Asia graduated from Artist Trust’s EDGE Professional Development Program. “During my time at EDGE, I particularly enjoyed the sessions working on my artist statement, biography, resume, and other written materials. Having peers and teachers review my work and offer suggestions with fresh eyes was invaluable. I also learned how to file my taxes and track my expenses more efficiently as an artist, which saved me significant money and time during tax season,” she reflected.

“The EDGE program was incredibly valuable for me and immediately resulted in new opportunities, lasting friendships, and a positive change in the trajectory of my career as a professional artist. I’m excited to see the program moving to a more accessible and equitable model with the Art Business Night School, while maintaining high quality teaching and meaningful experiences.”

Asia received a GAP award from Artist Trust in 2015, which helped her move into her current studio at Spaceworks Tacoma’s 1120 Creative House and will support her in creating new works, including a coloring book for local Native youth. Her work will also be featured in the upcoming Moon Moan: Works by Asia Tail and Raven Juarez exhibition at Spaceworks Gallery in Tacoma.

Artist Trust is offering a series of professional development courses through Art Business Night School. Inspired by the content and curriculum of the EDGE Professional Development Program, Art Business Night School’s evening classes focus on teaching valuable, fundamental skills to help prepare participants for a career as an artist.

Learn more about Art Business Night School here.

Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She’s obsessed with libraries, art and radio, and aspires toward a future career in nonprofit communications and/or arts administration.

Artist Trust at Seattle Art Fair 2017

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

Takashi Murakami and Vulcan Inc. Curator/Artist Trust Board Member Greg Bell at the 2016 Seattle Art Fair. Photo: Robert Wade

Are you curious about what we do at Artist Trust? Don’t miss your chance to talk one-on-one with an Artist Trust advocate at this year’s Seattle Art Fair!

Artist Trust is a proud Cultural Partner of the Seattle Art Fair. We are honored and extremely thankful to have been named the Beneficiary Partner for the inaugural event in 2015, which funded our Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) awards that year.

The third edition of Seattle’s largest annual art event opens to the public today, August 4 at 11 AM. Be sure to visit our Cultural Partners booth, located near the lobby of the theater. Our team of dedicated staff, interns, and volunteers are happy to answer any questions that you have about our annual grants, artist support programs, volunteer opportunities, and membership program.

We are offering Artist Trust friends and supporters a 20% discount on Seattle Art Fair tickets including single-day tickets and three-day tickets. This discount is only redeemable online. Purchase tickets now.

Many exhibitions and arts events are being held during this exciting weekend. Just a few minutes away from CenturyLink is King Street Station. The recently transformed space is hosting BorderLands, an exhibition organized by the Office of Arts & Culture. BorderLands explores the ideas of belonging and resistance through 2-D and 3-D works. Artist Trust grant recipients featured in the exhibition are Ryan Feddersen, Satpreet Kahlon, and Carina A. del Rosario

Also presented by the Office of Arts & Culture is And She Persisted: Voices of Women Artists, which features 38 pieces by female-identified artists from the City’s portable works collection. Artist Trust awardees Humaira Abid, Ross Palmer Beecher, and Yuki Nakamura are among the list of talented artists selected “who challenge assumptions, take risks and break barriers to create objects of incredible beauty and depth.” View more details at

Shaping the Way of Pursuing Her Craft: Imani Sims’ EDGE Experience

Megan Gallagher

Content Contributor

Imani Sims, Making Magic, 2015. Allyce Andrew.

Seattle native Imani Sims is an accomplished performer, poet, and educator. Hailed by the Seattle Art Museum’s Priya Frank as “a force of nature with the ability to create platforms that bring people together,” Imani founded Split Six productions, which is a POC, LGBTQ, and Allied production company.

Imani holds a BA in English from Hampton University and an MA in teaching from Seattle University. She currently teaches at Hugo House, Seattle Arts and Lectures, and South Puget Sound Community College. She was a 2016-2017 Rain City Teaching Fellow.

Although she started writing at a young age and began performing poetry since she was fourteen, Imani notes that her participation in Artist Trust’s 2012 EDGE Professional Development Program helped her grow and channel her ambitions as an artist.

“The EDGE program gave me practical knowledge to apply towards my writing career,” says Imani. “I learned how important it is to consistently submit work to multiple sources and I left the program with a binder full of knowledge that I reference often. It was also helpful to encounter working artists in my field and ask them questions. Their advice shaped the way I see myself as a writer and the aggressive way in which I pursue my craft.”

In 2016, Imani received an Artist Trust GAP to help fund The Fresh Brewed Tour, featuring work from her latest collection, (A)live Heart, and two other women of color performance poets. The Fresh Brewed Tour aims to integrate performance, ritual, and audience participation while increasing the visibility of women of color poets.

Artist Trust is offering a series of professional development courses through Art Business Night School. Inspired by the content and curriculum of the EDGE Professional Development Program, Art Business Night School’s evening classes focus on teaching valuable, fundamental skills to help prepare participants for a career as an artist.

Learn more about Art Business Night School here.

Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She’s obsessed with libraries, art and radio, and aspires toward a future career in nonprofit communications and/or arts administration.

Join 2015 James W. Ray Venture Project Awards Winner in a museum-wide celebration!

Aaron Jin

Communications Intern

Jim Guptal-Carlson. Blues Divine, 2010. Photograph.

On August 12, the Frye Art Museum will present Community Day in celebration of Casino: A Palimpsest, the first museum solo exhibition of Seattle-based performance artist and poet Storme Webber.

“A song of the stone that the builder refused.”

A palimpsest is a document where old writing has been erased and written over by a new text but still remains visible.

Webber brings those written-over narratives of Seattle to the forefront of the exhibition, honoring the Duwamish, the Black Migration, the pre-Stonewall queer community, the Mothers, the works, the hustlers, the multiracial poor folks. The exhibition links the struggles of the past with the present and stands in witness to ways “in which our Ancestors’ survival informs and inspires our own.”

“It’s especially important to acknowledge that, even in the progressive city of Seattle, there is a long history of backlash against vulnerable peoples who are just trying to live” says exhibition curator Miranda Belarde-Lewis. Webber certainly doesn’t shy away from that, using her own deeply personal family photographs to tell bigger stories from late nineteenth century Seattle and inviting everyone to consider the unknown stories behind their own family artifacts.

A Community Day for Families and All

The Frye is holding a Community Day in honor of the exhibition with activities from 11 am - 5 pm. Highlights of the day (and check out the full schedule here):

- 1-4 pm: Drop-in Art Making: Memories Map – Bring your own family photograph from home and stop by to create your own art in the Art Studio!
- 2-3:30 pm: A Space of Ancestor Honoring – Storme Webber and her cousin Valerie Rosa welcome souls and witnesses to a collaborative performance of poetic text and song.
- 4-5 pm: Gallery talk with Storme Webber and Miranda Belarde-Lewis – Storme Webber and exhibition curator Miranda Belarde-Lewis give an informal tour of the exhibition.

Frozen treats will be provided by our friends at Full Tilt Ice Cream.

Deborah Faye Lawrence’s “Strumpet of Justice” Opens Aug. 3

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

Deborah Faye Lawrence, Targeting the American Dream

2015 Twining Humber Award Recipient Deborah Faye Lawrence’s satirical collages will be shown in a solo exhibit titled Strumpet of Justice opening at BONFIRE Gallery in Seattle’s Chinatown International District.

Featured in Strumpet of Justice are Deborah’s signature collage works that serve as a reflection of the artist’s long-time concern towards contemporary politics and social issues, which she describes as “a force that drives my work regardless of who has hijacked the presidency.”

A member of Seattle University’s MFA faculty, Deborah also teaches collage making to community groups and public school students. In addition to receiving a Twining Humber Award from Artist Trust, Deborah was awarded multiple Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) and Fellowships.

One of her awards helped to produce “Eighty Words,” two affordable five-hour feminist collage workshops. Open to the public, the two workshops used Deborah’s list consisting of 80 gender-specific words meaning “bad woman” to engage in conversations about language bias among its female, male, and LGBTQ participants.

In 2008, Deborah received national attention for her “impeachment ornament,” which she created for the White House, upon invitation from former First Lady Laura Bush. The full story about the controversial bulb, which briefly decorated the White House’s Christmas tree, can be viewed here.

“These days, I keep my scissors extra-sharp, taking heed from the words of Bertolt Brecht: ‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it,’” comments Deborah on her upcoming show.

The opening reception for Strumpet of Justice will be held on Wednesday, August 3 from 6-8 PM at BONFIRE gallery with an artist talk beginning at 7 PM. For more information about the show, contact Bill Gaylord of BONFIRE Gallery by email or phone at 206/790-1073.

BONFIRE gallery is located in the historic Panama Hotel, a six-story building in Nihonmachi (Japantown), an area in the Chinatown International District. During WWII, the basement of the Panama stored the belongings of dozens of Japanese-American families who were sent away to internment camps. More information about the Panama Hotel can be found on the Wing Luke Museum’s website.

2010 EDGE Grad Elissa Washuta and the “Business of Being a Writer”

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

Elissa Washuta, My Body Is a Book of Rules Reading at Hugo House, Performance still, 2014. Photo: Sarah Samudre.

Born and raised New Jersey, Elissa Washuta is a Seattle-based writer of personal essays and memoirs whose work has appeared in Salon, The Chronicle of Higher Education, BuzzFeed, among other publications. She was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and is the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules.

Elissa received a BFA in English from the University of Maryland and a MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington. She is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and currently serves as the undergraduate adviser for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington. She is a nonfiction faculty member in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, a faculty advisor for Mud City Journal, and the Saturday editor for The Rumpus.

Although Elissa is a gifted writer, she once harbored apprehensive feelings toward applying for grants. “I’d spent a lot of hours learning the craft and working on my prose, but I didn’t know much about the business of being a writer. I remember hearing that I’d be learning about how to apply for grants and thinking, I’ll never, ever get a grant. I thought my work was too weird and too far out on the margins for someone to want to fund it,” she lamented.

In the past few years, Elissa has received fellowships and awards from major Washington State organizations including Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund, and Hugo House. She attributed much of the successful outcomes of her grant applications to the skills she gained from participating in Artist Trust’s EDGE Professional Development Program, which she enrolled in after completing her graduate studies.

“The EDGE program taught me how to present my work and its significance on paper, how to present myself as a professional, and how to delineate what I needed and why I should receive it,” Elissa explained. “I began receiving smaller grants to support my writing, and in 2016, I received the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award, $25,000 in unrestricted funds, in large part because of the professional presentation (on paper and in person) skills I gained from the EDGE program.”

Beginning this summer, Artist Trust is offering a series of professional development courses through Art Business Night School. Inspired by the content and curriculum of the EDGE Professional Development Program, Art Business Night School’s evening classes focus on teaching valuable, fundamental skills to help prepare participants for a career as an artist.

To learn more about Art Business Night School, read our blog post here.

Take the 2017 Annual Artist Survey!

Shannon Halberstadt

Chief Executive Officer

Dear Washington State Artist,

I’m writing to invite you to take Artist Trust’s Annual Artist Survey. Year after year, Artist Trust works hard to provide funding, support, and connections for the talented artists in Washington State. This is our third year conducting an annual survey, which has proven crucial in our ability to respond effectively to artists’ needs. Your feedback is core to the work we do and we are so grateful for your participation.

I’d like to invite you to share your perspective with Artist Trust: Click here to take the 2017 Artist Survey Now.
It takes an average of just five minutes to take this survey, which closes midnight on August 30, 2017.

It’s important to us to hear from artists of all disciplines, geographies, cultures, and ethnicities, so please share this survey with other Washington State artists in your network. As an extra incentive, artists who take the survey will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift card to a store of your choosing, which one lucky individual can use to get supplies to support their creativity.

Thanks in advance for your input. This survey will help inform our work and will be shared with hundreds of organizations that support artists in all corners of the state. A few minutes of your time can make a huge difference for Artist Trust, and for your fellow artists in Washington State.


Shannon Roach Halberstadt
Chief Executive Officer | Artist Trust 

A Look Behind the Curtain of Art Business Night School

Katie Creyts

Board Member

Katie Creyts, Goldilocks, As Told by the Mirror, gilded and etched glass, ready-made frames, 12”x24”, 2013.

I am an artist and an art professor and never had a course or workshop focused on professional practice. My interest in the Artist Trust’s professional development program started as a participant in the EDGE Professional Development Program, a week-long seminar held in Port Townsend. The experience was profound for a number of reasons; the people, the seminar content, and the synthesis of content by artists to suit their professional goals. The people involved in this program included efficient and accommodating staff, a wide range of enthusiastic seminar leaders who were experts in their fields, and 18 visual artists eager to network and grow their practice. The comprehensive content ranged from the artist statement to issues of copyright to grant writing. Embedded in these learning sections were opportunities to apply this new knowledge, critique in small groups, and revise.  I left feeling pleased and slightly overwhelmed with new business goals and practices.

Why change a good program?

• The structure of the EDGE program was exclusive in that it was costly and participants had to be able to leave work for a week;
• The program was not inclusive of the range of artists Artist Trust would like to serve, such as musicians, performers, filmmakers, and interdisciplinary artists;
• The intensive nature of the program did not allow time for thoughtful reflection, implementation of practice, and follow-up questions;
• A modular program would allow participants to focus on certain facets of development. This also allows Artist Trust to package smaller programs and workshops throughout the WA State;
• The EDGE curriculum needed to be updated to reflect current trends in creative careers, financial management, digital culture, and business practices.

When Artist Trust approached me about revising the EDGE curriculum, I was eager to help. My process for rewriting the curriculum involved editing, updating, and streamlining hundreds of pages of curriculum into four themed modules. I researched best practices in books, online, and sourced ideas from successful practicing creative people. I submitted and revised based on the invested feedback of Brian McGuigan, Artist Trust’s program director. The work resulted in a new structure for the Artist Trust professional practice workshop, Art Business Night School!

The curriculum addresses all the aforementioned changes. There are four themed sections that are taught in six-week modules. Participants meet once weekly for a two-hour section taught by an expert in the subject matter. Meeting weekly allows participants to digest and implement the curriculum. The coursework is interdisciplinary in the arts, promoting networking and cross-pollination. The curriculum is flexible and relevant, allowing the instructor to prioritize the participants’ needs and encourage connective conversation.

In a nutshell, if you are looking to start a creative career or need to jump start your practice, Art Business Night School will give you a great support system, tactics, structure, and resources to help you on your way to success. It’s all in there, and after meeting the instructors I can’t be more excited for the implementation of this program.

Based on our long-running EDGE Professional Development Program, Art Business Night School provides a comprehensive survey of business practices through a hands-on, interactive curriculum. Topics covered include: Business Fundamentals, Career in Focus, Polish and Prep for Opportunities, and Promotion Fundamentals.

View our current course schedule on our website at Programs Calendar.


Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

THANK YOU to all who visited our #Generocity2017 booth last night at the Living Computers: Museum + Labs.

It was a lot of fun talking about Artist Trust and introducing our mission, strategic plan, and upcoming artist support programs. We are so touched that many people felt strongly toward what we do and want to get involved and do their part to support art at its source.

Sending vibes of gratitude to Vulcan Inc. for sponsoring the 4th annual event and to Seattle Met Magazine for inviting us to participate! We appreciate and enjoyed being apart of a wonderful night that celebrated Seattle’s fabulous non-profit organizations!

Panel: “In Support of Artists: The Evolution of Seattle Exhibition Spaces”

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

On Thursday, May 25, a panel discussion titled “In Support of Artists: The Evolution of Seattle Exhibition Spaces” took place at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square district. The event was hosted by Greg Kucera of Greg Kucera Gallery and co-hosted by Sharon Arnold of Bridge Productions and Gail Gibson of G.Gibson Gallery. All proceeds of the evening benefited Artist Trust.

Building off the momentum of a conversation ( that began in January 2017 at Town Hall, “In Support of Artists” addressed current issues facing Seattle’s galleries including rising real estate costs, loss of funding for arts writing, and lack of diversity and representation in the arts. The panel also illuminated on the practices of art spaces that do not adhere to the traditional gallery model. Read more about the panel on The Stranger (

Presenters (L-R): Brendan Kiley of The Seattle Times, Dawna Holloway of studio e, S. Surface of The Alice, Robert Yoder of SEASON, Beth Sellars (moderator), James Harris of James Harris Gallery, Julia Greenway of Interstitial, Tariqa Waters of Martyr Sauce.

Art Business Night School is Open for Registration!

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

School is now in session! Art Business Night School is back to put some spring in your entrepreneurial step.

From writing a contract to polishing your presentation skills, there is always something new to learn when you’re preparing or strengthening your business as an artist. We know the days are full so we’re bringing you four six-week evening sessions, each geared towards different learning goals. You’ll walk away with a full brain, new skills, and concrete takeaways that will help you along the path to sustainable entrepreneurship, successful grant applications, and more. Space is limited so reserve your spot today!

Need-based and Filipinx scholarships available by request.

Promotion Fundamentals
Thursdays, July 27-August 31, 7-9pm
Hugo House (Gary Classroom)
with Natasha Marin
This class, led by conceptual artist, writer, and communications professional Natasha Marin, will help you develop strategies and goals for effectively promoting your work. Through interactive exercises and group discussions, you’ll identify the best platforms for your work, learn the key components of your web and social media presence, and practice your networking skills, so you can talk about your work online or in person with confidence.

Business Fundamentals
Mondays, August 7-September 18 (No class on 9/4), 7-9pm  
Mt. Baker Lofts (Community Room)
with Ben Kerr
In this class, attorney Benjamin Kerr leads you through the essentials of business and finance for artists. Copyright, earning scenarios, patent law all those complicated legal terms you didn’t learn in school you’ll learn here. By the end of the class, you’ll know how to create a business plan; understand contracts, taxes, and insurance; and be able to organize and manage your finances, so you can support yourself and your artistic practice. 

Career in Focus
Tuesdays, September 5-October 10, 7-9pm
Tashiro Kaplan (Community Room)
with Leilani Lewis
Led by arts leader Leilani Lewis, this class will help you sharpen your professional vision and realize your aspirations. Through assignments, exercises, and group discussion, you’ll create a 10-year vision for your artistic practice, set short- and long-term goals, and practice the professional skills you’ll need to turn your plans into action. By the end of the class, you’ll know what it takes to make it as an artist and sustain your work over the course of a career.

Polish & Prep for Opportunities
Thursdays, 10/5-11/16 (no class on 10/12), 7-9pm
Mt. Baker Lofts (Community Room)
with Kristen Ramirez
In this class, multidisciplinary artist and public art manager Kristen Ramirez covers the essentials any artist needs to apply for grants, residencies, calls for submissions, and other opportunities. In-class exercises and discussion will help you better understand the application process, prepare application materials, and identify the right opportunities for your work. At the end of the class, you’ll have an artist statement, resume, biography, and other parts of a successful grant application and portfolio, and be ready to apply for support for your work.

Questions? Contact Zach Frimmel at

Many thanks to you, 2017 GiveBIG Donors!

Sonja Roach

Development Manager

Artist Trust staff on GiveBIG day. Photo by Erika Enomoto.

During GiveBIG on May 10th, Artist Trust’s amazing community of donors raised $9,421.26. With matching funds of $6,495 from our board of trustees and friends, our total is $15,916.26.

Thank you to the following donors for making this year’s GiveBIG a huge success, underwriting 10 Grants for Artist Projects!

Lynn Adams
Francie Allen
Heather Allen-Lilly
Ginger and Parks Anderson
Claudia Bach
Kimberly Bateman
Wally and Julie Bivins
Antonia Blume
Jennifer Campbell
Margaret Carter
Nancy Chang*
Carl Chew
Barbara Courtney
Andrew Creech
Katie Creyts
Robin Dearling
Dottie Delaney
Cora Edmonds and Phil P. Crean
Stephanie Ellis-Smith and Doug Smith*
Gary Epstein and Susan Kunimatsu
Kathi J. Erickson
Alma Feldpausch
Bridget Fischer
Kathleen Fowells
Richard Freedman (In Memory of Jennifer Smith)
Cristina Friday
David Gloger and Meegan McKiernan
Kristina Goetz (In Honor of the Artist Trust Development Team)
Salyna Gracie
Joy Hagen
Shannon Halberstadt
Ronald Hammond (In Honor of Ezra Dickinson)
Toby Harris
Pamela Hastings
Heather Joy Helbach-Olds*
Tina Hoggatt
Sibyl James
Lisa Jaret
Zabrina Jenkins
Michael Lane and Paul D. McKee
Gar and Barbara LaSalle*
Larry Laurence
Carol Levin
Len Lewicki*
Daniel Loewenstein
John Lucas
Linera Lucas
Frederick Mendoza
Maya Mendoza-Exstrom
Natalie Miller
Suzanne Moore
Quinton Morris and Thomas Grant*
Byron and Phyllis Olson*
Susie Parrent
Steven Peters
Robert Pillitteri
Michael Reid
Barbara Renfrow-Baker
Patricia Resseguie
Perri Rhoden (In Honor of the Artist Trust Development Team)
Paula Riggert
Grant Robinson
Brian Rothstein
Paul Rucker
Lillian Ryan
Line Sandsmark
Cathy Sarkowsky
Pablo Schugurensky and Renata Tatman
Gautam SenGupta
Kimberly Shine
Kathleen A. Smith
Darby Smith (In Honor of Artist Trust Staff)
Larie H. Smoyer
Julia Sokolova
Sheila Sondik
Joannie Stangeland
Asia Tail
Timea Tihanyi
Tanya Trejo and Keane Watterson*
MegganJoy Trobaugh
Kenneth Turner
Lorraine Vagner*
Susan Wagner
Brenda J. Walker
Beth Warshaw (In Honor of Kristina Goetz)
Rebecca Watson
Charlotte Watts
Kristen Webb and David Schooler
Bryan Webster
Lynne White
Sally and Bryan Yates

*Matching pool donor

Behind the Curtain: Grant Panels

Owen David

Program Coordinator: Grants to Artists

If you’ve ever submitted a grant application you must have wondered: who sits on the selection committee, and how do they decide who gets the money? The answer is nuanced, as it varies from grant to grant and between organizations, and it is important for you to do some research and read the grant guidelines and any supplemental materials (FAQs, example applications, etc.) before applying. While there are some big differences in eligibility and selection criteria across the different grant programs at Artist Trust, our selection process generally follows a pattern.

While you are working on your application, Artist Trust is busy assembling a committee of 3 to 5 knowledgeable panelists who will review your online submission. These individuals are working artists or cultural workers (curators, instructors, administrators, etc.) who have achieved a measure of professional recognition and are regarded as having expertise in their field. To ensure a fair decision making process, Artist Trust is careful to build panels that include panelists from outside of King County and from underrepresented communities. We give them the grant guidelines and selection criteria as well as our organizational Equity Statement before asking them to review, depending on the grant, a set of applications that represents either just the submissions for one discipline (ex. Literary Arts, Media, Performing Arts, or Visual Arts) or all submissions regardless of discipline.

For example, while the Artist Trust GAP is open to artists working in any discipline, the disciplinary category that an applicant chooses determines which panel reviews their submission. For example, a painter submitting their GAP application in the Visual Arts category might be reviewed by a gallerist, a sculptor, and a photographer, while a playwright submitting their GAP application in the Performing Arts category might be reviewed by a choreographer, a musician, and a dramaturg. In contrast, all applications to the Arts Innovator Award are reviewed by the same five-person panel where there is one person representing each of the four disciplinary categories plus one interdisciplinary artist. In this scenario an experimental poet might be reviewed by a fiction writer, a filmmaker, a composer, a muralist, and an interdisciplinary artist. While working on your application, it’s important to remember that your audience will consist of knowledgeable professionals but might not include anyone working in your specific medium.

Artist Trust facilitates the selection process by helping panelists with questions surrounding eligibility and selection criteria, but all decision making power belongs the panelists. No Artist Trust staff ever votes on applications.

After the deadline closes, the panel is given access to all of the online submissions and a simple voting system of Yes, No, or Maybe on advancing an application to the second round. Panelists are required to keep their identities and decisions confidential, and at this point they do not know who the other panelists are. As they vote, we ask them to give constructive comments that we might use to give feedback to grant applicants later. We tell them to vote Yes whenever they feel that they cannot evaluate the work (because it is outside of their medium or field of expertise) and want to discuss it live with the other panelists.

With regard to conflicts of interest, we ask panelists to abstain from voting on applications from anyone they are related to or have business dealings with. Because they are themselves artists or cultural workers, panelists are often familiar or friendly with some of the artists in the applicant pool. We ask them to abstain from voting if this relationship is intimate, otherwise we ask them whether they can be objective in evaluating an application before tallying a vote. In all cases, we ask panelists to declare any potential conflicts to their fellow panelists in the second round. Panelists are asked to abstain from voting on an application if their fellow panelists decide that a conflict prevents them from judging objectively.

Following the first round of online scoring, panelists gather at the Artist Trust office for a day (or more) of intensive discussion and decision-making. Yes, Maybe, and No votes are converted to scores of 1, 0, and -1 to rank all submissions by numerical value and establish a threshold for round two. Applications below the threshold are not brought forward for further discussion. The cutoff value varies depending on the size of each pool, but generally the top 20-30% of applications advance to the second round. The only exceptions are Passion Votes, which each panelist can cast for one application that might not have scored very highly but warrants closer deliberation.

At this point, the process becomes an organic dialogue between panelists, with panelists candidly discussing why they voted Yes, No, or Maybe on the applicants within the “Maybe” threshold. Sometimes a Yes vote is resounding but sometimes it means just “good enough,” and sometimes No or Maybe votes are persuaded into Yes votes based on the impassioned advocacy of one panelist. Sometimes panelists respond to a strong work sample but take issue with other parts of the application (and vice versa), and often an observation or some background knowledge that one panelist shares is enough for the others to see the materials in a different light. Issues of aesthetic bias and cultural literacy come up, as do issues of historical and ongoing disparities in access to resources, services, and opportunities for artists to present their work.

In this process, Artist Trust serves as a facilitator for the conversation. In this role we push panelists to adhere to the guidelines and selection criteria while asking them to be mindful of an equitable distribution of funding across all demographics of Washington State artists. Dialogue winnows the applicant pool down as panelists go through all applications above the scoring threshold, eventually coming around to frontrunners. At this point applications get compared to each other as panelists ask: Which ones most strongly meet the criteria? Which ones would be most impacted by the funding? What work is most important for this panel to support right now? 

Panelists are tasked with making tough decisions among indisputably qualified and exceptionally talented artists well before the pool gets to the final recipient(s) and alternate(s). It’s important to remember that being declined for an award is not necessarily a substantive statement on the merits of your work or on the strength of your application. At the end of the day panelists never have enough funding to give every qualified applicant an award, and maybe this year just wasn’t the year for your application.

Artist Trust announces the final recipient(s) and releases the names of panelists after its Board of Directors approving the selection and disbursement of funds. Artists are encouraged to approach Artist Trust and the panelists for feedback on their application and comments on the selection process.

The selection process might differ from the above depending on the grant. For instance, the Arts Innovator Award funded by The Chihuly Foundation includes interviews, while the Conductive Garboil Grant administered in partnership with 4Culture includes studio visits for finalists. As another example, while most Artist Trust grants are open to the general public, the James W. Ray Awards, funded by the Raynier Foundation and administered in partnership with the Frye Arts Museum, involves a nomination process in which we solicit nominations from distinguished artists or cultural workers and only nominees are eligible to apply. Again, it is important do some research and read the guidelines and any supplemental materials (FAQs, example applications, etc.) before applying to a grant.

Reach out if you have any questions about the selection process for any Artist Trust grant! We offer a host of services and resources to help you, and love talking to artists.

Find information on our website, or reach out to:

Owen David, Program Coordinator: Grants to Artists | 206/467-8734 x14


Katy Hannigan, Artist Liaison | 206/467-8734 x25

GAP Story: Casandra Lopez

Casandra Lopez

2016 Grants for Artist Projects Recipient

Portrait by Christine Marie Larsen

Dear Artist Trust Supporter,

When I was notified of my Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) award last fall, I was thrilled. It was also a relief – a moment of clarity that my path and purpose was right on track.

Artist Trust supports writers and artists like me who are in critical stages of their careers and in the development of projects. When I applied for GAP I knew that the project I was working on, A Few Notes on Grief, would be difficult to write, but it was urgently calling me. There was nothing I wanted to write more. I wanted to write from an Indigenous perspective on how violence and grief had impacted not only me, but my family and community. Having my work acknowledged by Artist Trust in this way meant that others saw potential in my project and that I would have the funds to further my research.

When I begin a new project I often second-guess myself. It is a scary process filled with blank pages, but receiving recognition from Artist Trust has been validating. Writing A Few Notes on Grief remains scary and frustrating at times, but I am now confident that I will complete my manuscript.

Each year, Artist Trust invests in working artists like me through grants and educational programs. When I see that national arts funding is under threat, I am relieved to know that artists in Washington State can still depend on Artist Trust. This support of individual artists has never been more important, and it depends on the generosity of folks like you and me.

Your gift right now will help Artist Trust support artists who share the challenging, transformative stories that make our communities vibrant. Artists like me. Thank you for the support you have shown Artist Trust in the past, and thank you again for the support I hope you will lend this year.


Casandra Lopez

P.S. Thanks to donors like you, last year Artist Trust awarded over $350,000 to 85 artists, and reached thousands more through educational programs. That’s why I am excited to share these opportunities to support artists with you!

1. Click here to donate online!
2. Click here to donate through GiveBIG April 28 through May 10! Your gift will be matched by our generous Board of Trustees and friends.
3. Click here to read about the Campaign for a Creative Future and make a pledge.

About the Artist

Casandra Lopez is a Chicana and California Indian (Cahuilla/Luiseno/Tongva) writer and educator who has received fellowships from CantoMundo and Jackstraw. She has been selected for residencies with the SFAI, School of Advanced Research and Hedgebrook. Her chapter book, Where Bullet Breaks, was published by the Sequoyah National Research Center and her hybrid chapter book, After Bullet, is forthcoming from Yellow Chair Press. She is the managing editor of As Us: A Space for Writers of the World.

Casandra has received GAP 2016 funding for A Few Notes On Grief, a hybrid poetry and non-fiction project which will explore grief, violence, and love in many shapes and forms from an Indigenous perspective. The book will be grounded in her personal grief and trauma from witnessing her brother’s murder five years ago, in an attempt to grapple with communal and historical grief and trauma.

Artist Trust in Walla Walla, April 27

Brian McGuigan

Program Director

On April 27, Artist Trust returns to Walla Walla for a workshop on building audience led by Rachel Smith and a panel on being a practicing artist in a rural community featuring artists Juventino Aranda, Justin Lincoln, and Nicole Pietrantoni.

Building Audience for Your Work in Walla Walla and Beyond
Thursday, April 27, 5-7 PM
Studio Articolore
226 E Main St
Walla Walla, Washington 99362
$25 / $20 for Artist Trust Members
Need-based, Latinx, and Filipinx scholarships available by request.

Led by artist Rachel Smith, this workshop will cover essential skills you’ll need to find and develop audiences for your work, including elevator speeches, networking, and effective communications strategies for approaching gallerists, curators, and other art-world gatekeepers.

Being a Practicing Artist in a Rural Community
Thursday, April 27 – Wine & Snacks at 7 PM; Panel 7:30-8:30 PM
Studio Articolore
226 E Main St
Walla Walla, Washington 99362
FREE. RSVP here.

In this panel, artists Juventino Aranda, Justin Lincoln, and Nicole Pietrantoni discuss how to thrive as a practicing artist in rural Washington while building audience for your work beyond the region. Moderated by artist Rachel Smith, the panel will address opportunities and challenges for artists living in Eastern Washington and strategies for cultivating community and support.

These programs, presented with the generous support of Blue Mountain Community Foundation, mark Artist Trust’s third visit to Walla Walla in the last three years. In 2015, we presented a weekend professional development workshop and an artist happy hour, and in 2016, we hosted our annual board of director’s retreat as well as a workshop, an Office Hours, and a networking salon featuring artist Keiko Hara. Since 2010, Artist Trust has invested more than $37,000 in direct financial support to artists in Walla Walla County.

Artist Trust in Spokane, April 28-30

Brian McGuigan

Program Director

Artist Trust’s staff and board visit Spokane April 28-30 for our annual board retreat and a series of programs, including a happy hour, an artist mentorship event, and a presentation on how to apply for artist grants presented in partnership with Spokane Arts.

Happy Hour | Spokane
Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:30-6:30 PM
Black Label Brewing Co.
19 W Main Ave
Spokane, WA 99201
Free. No host bar.

Join Artist Trust staff for a happy hour kicking off a weekend of programs in Spokane. Connect with our staff and other artists and hear about upcoming Artist Trust programs and happenings.

Artist Mentorship Event | Spokane
Saturday, April 29, 2017, 12-3 PM
304 W Pacific Ave
Spokane, WA 99201
Venue info
Free with RSVP.

Sometimes the art world can seem impenetrable. How can you, as an artist, break into it? And once you’ve broken into it, how do you make it? This informal mentorship and networking event gives artists of all disciplines a chance to sit down with artists and arts leaders in small groups for casual conversations about opportunities, issues, and challenges in the arts world. This event is free, but registration is required. Please RSVP to attend. RSVPs will close an hour before the event.

Featuring artists and arts leaders:
Jeff Ferguson, artist
Melissa Huggins, Executive Director of Spokane Arts  
Ginelle Hustrulid, artist & Professor at Eastern Washington University  
Juan Mas, filmmaker and board member of Washington Filmworks  
Nance Van Winckel, author & Professor Emerita at Eastern Washington University    
Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton, artist & Spokane Arts Commissioner

How to Apply for an Artist Grant | Spokane
Sunday, April 30, 10 AM-12PM
Community Building
35 W Main Ave
Spokane, WA 99201
Free. RSVP here.

Writing a grant can be hard, and we want to help you. Join Spokane Arts’ Grants Administrator Jennifer Knickerbocker and Artist Trust’s Artist Liaison Katy Hannigan for an info session where you’ll learn about funding opportunities from both organizations, the ins and outs of applying for grants, and tips that will make your next application stand out. *This workshop is appropriate for artists at all stages of their careers.

These programs, presented with the generous support of the Tremaine Foundation, are part of Artist Trust’s continued presence in Spokane. Led by Spokane Program Coordinator Anne-Claire Mitchell, Artist Trust has presented 22 programs serving more than 500 Spokane artists and community members since launching the Spokane satellite program at the beginning of 2016. Over the last seven years, Artist Trust has invested more than $50,000 in direct financial support to artists in Spokane County. 


GAP Season is Officially Open!

Emily Dennis

Grants for Artist Projects is in its 29th year as Artist Trust’s flagship program and we’re as excited about it now as we were in 1988! (Maybe with slightly less neon.) GAP awards are $1,500 project-based grants, useable for supplies, travel, studio time – anything that supports your new or in-process project. There is also one one-month residency at Centrum in Port Townsend, along with a $500 stipend, up for grabs.

The application deadline is May 15th, but if you can get us your application by the early submission deadline of April 17th, we’ll provide you with feedback so you can edit, perfect, and resubmit by May.

Here at Artist Trust, we are committed to transparency, and to racial and geographic equity. With that in mind, we’re looking forward to traveling around the state with our How to Apply to an Artist Grant workshop. In these sessions, Artist Trust staff will explain the application process, provide one-on-one feedback, and answer questions. We also have a webinar and Office Hours at our home on 12th Ave in Seattle. Read on to see when we’ll be near you and of course, don’t hesitate to contact us with questions.

3.29 – How to Apply for an Artist Grant | Evergreen Longhouse, Olympia
Native artists are especially encouraged to participate

3.30 – How to Apply for an Artist Grant | Gig Harbor Arts Council, Gig Harbor

4.1 – How to Apply for an Artist Grant | Confluence Gallery, Twisp

4.5 – GAP Webinar
Video now available here!

4.10 – Office Hours | AT Office, Seattle

4.12 – How to Apply for an Artist Grant | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, Seattle
This event is co-hosted by CD Forum
Artists of color are especially encouraged to participate

4.13 – How to Apply for an Artist Grant | Department of Parks, Recreation, and Art, Auburn

4.17 – Early Submission Deadline, in order to receive feedback from AT staff

4.30 – How to Apply for an Artist Grant | Community Building, Spokane
This event is co-hosted by Spokane Arts

5.8 – Office Hours | AT Office, Seattle

5.15 – GAP Application Closes


Behind the Curtain: Changes to Artist Trust’s Grantmaking Programs

Brian McGuigan

Over the last year, we’ve made several changes to our grantmaking programs based on feedback from artists, including a new grant management system, preliminary application feedback, free post-panel feedback, launching Office Hours, and increased promotion of award winners. The intent of these changes is to make our programs more artist-focused and to demystify the grantmaking process, or, as I like to say, to show artists “the secret sauce” of applying for grants.

Beginning with the 2016 LaSalle Storyteller Award in Fiction last year, we moved to a new grant management system, Submittable. Often used in literary, film, and dance fields, Submittable gives you more flexibility in the kinds and number of work samples you can submit. Artists who work in multiple disciplines or who have work samples in many different file types can now submit in all formats, audio, video, images, and manuscript. Artists may also request preliminary and post-panel feedback and leave specific questions for the reviewer all through Submittable, making communicating with our staff easier and more efficient. 

Preliminary feedback is a new service we offer to grant applicants. About a month before the deadline, artists can request feedback on their applications. One of our programs staff will review the application and offer section-by-section feedback, either by phone or through Submittable.

Post-panel feedback works similarly. During each grant selection panel, our staff takes notes on the discussion of applicants. Panelists may also leave written notes on applications when reviewing them online before the panel. After we send out decline notices, artists may request feedback by phone or through Submittable. In the past, this was a free service only for Artist Trust members and came with a fee of $30 for nonmembers.

Opportunities for feedback have been popular. In just a few months, we’ve had 131 artists request preliminary application feedback and 161 request post-panel feedback.

We’ve also launched Office Hours, our free grantwriting support program, where artists can meet with our staff for one-on-one consultations to learn more about grants, workshop their applications, and talk through any concerns. In 2016, over 200 artists came for Office Hours in nine cities across Washington State, and several have gone on to receive our awards.

And, finally, we are increasing promotion of award winners through press and social media campaigns, networking events, and parties. From our Annual Artist Survey, we learned one of the biggest needs of artists is building audience. We’ll continue to come up with new ways to showcase our awardees in communications and to connect artists with each other and with gatekeepers and patrons.

Most of the recent changes to our grantmaking programs were inspired by our work on racial equity and geographic diversity and our partnership with Artists Up, an experimental grant program for artists of color presented in collaboration with 4Culture and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. You can read more about Artists Up here, and you can read more about our commitment to racial equity here.  

If you have any questions about our grant programs and services, please email me. We’re excited about these changes and look forward to supporting more artists across Washington State. 

The guidelines for Artist Trust’s 2017 GAP Awards are now available here, and the online application opens on March 27. 

Artist Trust in Port Townsend, March 11

Artist Trust

On March 11, Artist Trust comes to Port Townsend! Meet us at our workshop on How to Build an Audience, at our one-on-one Office Hours, or the Happy Hour!

Workshop: Building Your Audience as an Artist
March 11, 2017, 12:00-3:00 PM
The Business Resource Center
2409 Jefferson St
Port Townsend, WA
$30 / $20 for Members
Need-based, Latinx, and Filipinx scholarships available by request.

Led by arts advocate and communications professional Leilani Lewis, this workshop will help you find audiences and markets for your work. You’ll learn strategies for effective communications and how to develop goals, objectives, and an action plan. The workshop will also include discussion of press releases, websites, elevator speeches, and networking to help you build your audience online and in person.

Office Hours
March 11, 2017, 12:00-2:00 PM
Northwind Arts Center
701 Water St.
Port Townsend, WA

Come to Office Hours with questions about Artist Trust’s grants! Register to reserve your appointment:

Office Hours is a free grantwriting support program for artists of all disciplines looking for advice on how to apply for funding from Artist Trust. Artist Trust staff will provide one-on-one consultation where we’ll walk artists through the application process for our grants, provide feedback on their grant application, and answer any questions they have.

Happy Hour
March 11, 2017 3:00-4:00PM
2231 Washington St.
Port Townsend, WA

Join Artist Trust grant recipients and staff for a happy hour at the Pourhouse in Port Townsend. Raise a glass to the PT arts community and connect with artists and arts lovers alike!

2016 Artist Trust Annual Report

Pablo Schugurensky

Board President

Dear artists, art-lovers, supporters, and friends,

In 2016 we celebrated the first 30 years of Artist Trust. The anniversary serves as a marker – really; an exclamation point – not only to reflect and celebrate the accomplishments to date but also to chart and track future activities.

Indeed, 2016 was a momentous year for Artist Trust: we released our Strategic Plan and Equity framework.

The plan allows us to reflect and align our activities with our values:“Artist Trust is OPEN, TRANSPARENT, RESPONSIVE, and FORWARD-THINKING in all we do. These values drive our actions and decisions, and are woven into our mission and goals.” The Equity framework reflects our strong commitment to be aware, inclusive, and fair, in all aspects or racial equity. The board and staff is engaged in productive dialogue and is enthusiastic to continue this work.

The 30th anniversary celebration took form in several events, including Artist Trust on Tour, which brought awardees in various disciplines to present their work in several locations throughout Washington State, and culminated in a joyous party at V2 where we announced the Campaign for a Creative Future.
The campaign will raise a total of $3.5 million dollars to establish a $2.5 million Fund for Grants and a $1 million Venture Fund. The full board contributed to the campaign and we thank our major donors who stepped in early… and we thank in advance all of you who will join in to help make Artist Trust a sustainable and viable resource for artists.

On that note, in 2016 we awarded over $350,000 to 85 artists, and served another 3,100 artists with programming and resources. This year we made great strides in the effort to fulfill our statewide mission, due in great part to the effort of staff and the Artist Trust Spokane satellite office.

We are truly grateful to do this important work.

These 30 years show that it is possible for a community to value its artists and support them to do their work, and that is the message we are proud to spread around Washington State.

  Pablo Schugurensky
  Board President
  Artist Trust

Thanks for your support in 2016!

Artist Trust

In 2016, thanks to the support of friends like you, Artist Trust:

- Awarded over $300,000 to 85 artists, and reached another 2,500 artists with expanding programming and resources.

- Took Artist Trust on Tour to Port Townsend, Tacoma, Bellingham, and Spokane, and brought programming and increased collaboration to eleven other locations throughout Washington State.

- Hosted a sold out exhibition with performances by Artist Trust grant recipients from across Washington State in celebration of our 30th anniversary.

- Released a Racial Equity Statement and Strategic Plan, and announced the Campaign for a Creative Future

- Grew our Spokane satellite office with the hiring of a Spokane Program Coordinator, leading to increased funding and support for artists in the Spokane region.  

Your donation now will continue to make this work possible, in 2017 and beyond. If you have already made a year-end gift, thank you! Most cultural philanthropy goes to institutions that present artists’ work; Artist Trust is one of the few 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that supports artists directly. By supporting Artist Trust, you will help ensure that Washington artists at all stages of their careers not only survive, but thrive. 

Image: Grandmother winter mask by MissTANGQ. Paper mache, acrylic, textiles, dried moss, and lichen, 16” x 14” x 4”, 2015. This mask is part of an archetypal mask series interpreting characters from Chinese folklore. MissTANGQ is a Chinese-American multi-media artist and and an Artist Trust 2016 Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) recipient. She uses animation, installation, and performance art to create cross-sensory and interdisciplinary work.