Reshaping Our Work in 2021

2020 was a year of learning and transformation for Artist Trust. As a result, we are actively reshaping our work throughout 2021. Over the past several months, we collected feedback through Community Conversations and workgroups. Initial changes include: revising our governing by-laws and grant guidelines, forming new committees to guide our work forward, creating new programs, and more.

We are excited to share the next phase of this work with you! Beginning this month, AV Consulting‘s Alma Villegas and Eliza Arai Carrington will work closely with our board, staff, and artist contributors on an internal audit of our organization, advising us on strategies that will expand our racial equity work and reorient our mission, programs, strategies, and impact.

This audit is just the first step in creating lasting change at Artist Trust. We are continuously learning along the way, and we’ll be sure to share our progress with you as we move forward. We welcome your feedback and thank you for your support!

See below for all of our current updates.


Alma Villegas is a seasoned racial equity advisor. She offers over 25 years of experience in facilitation and multicultural and multilingual community engagement. Her areas of expertise include conducting organizational assessments, facilitating visioning and strategic planning processes with a racial equity lens, and providing one-on-one and group coaching. Prior to launching her consulting practice, Alma worked for several nonprofit organizations in King County in the areas of education, community health, social justice, and the arts. Aside from being a consultant, Alma is an artist. She holds a bachelor’s in liberal arts and has performed in several plays over the years in San Diego and Seattle. In 2001, Alma began singing professionally and in 2010 formed her own band Alma y Azucar, honoring the life of “La Reina de la Salsa”, Celia Cruz. She has released two CDs offering lush renditions of favorite songs from a variety of Latin American countries. For more information on Alma visit www.almavillegasconsulting.com / www.almavillegas.com

Eliza Arai Carrington is a racial equity and community engagement strategist with experience in the public, non-profit and private sectors. With her background in education, she combines curriculum development and facilitation skills to empower communities to identify goals and execute their vision. As a multi-racial, South Seattle native she brings deep appreciation for the diversity of our region and has a history of creating effective partnerships that center on personal connection as a driver for change. In partnership with AV Consulting, she is currently supporting multiple projects including the Port of Seattle’s South King County Fund challenging historical privilege in our local systems with a liaison model for multi-cultural engagement to increase community influence over public dollars.


Listening to Community
– Two Community Conversations, Mission, Vision and Values; and Racial Equity, were held to hear feedback and inform future programs and strategic direction.
– An Arts Innovator Award (AIA) workgroup centering 2020 finalists and panelists met five times to discuss our grantmaking processes and suggest improvements.
– We prioritized compensation for artists throughout our 2021 budget and work plans and increased the commission for artists donating to our auction to 50%.

Eliminating Barriers
– All artist-serving programs at Artist Trust are currently offered at no cost; Artist Trust membership and participation in virtual fundraising events are now offered at a sliding scale.
– Changes to our grant programs to date include simplifying language and process, creating a finalist cohort for AIA, centering artists as experts on panels, and introducing programs that connect applicants to learn in a virtual study hall setting.
– The community is invited to serve as leaders at Artist Trust through our Open Board Application. Applicants are reviewed on a rolling basis by our Governance Committee.

Bringing Staff & Board Together
– Board and staff come together as equals at a new monthly Racial Equity Committee, working to hold Artist Trust accountable to racial equity goals, identify where systems of oppression are upheld, and lead change.
– Thirty minutes at each quarterly board meeting is dedicated to racial equity learning, discussion, and training.
– Participation in racial equity learning and training is a key priority for all board and staff.

Creating Permanent Change
– The board approved changes to Artist Trust’s governing by-laws that include the Racial Equity Committee as a permanent committee with participation from the Board President.
– A new Commitment to Anti-Racism is signed by board members annually. By signing, board members pledge to deepen their understanding of what it means to be actively anti-racist and help build an anti-racist culture at Artist Trust.
– Our 2021 budget includes an increased financial investment for racial equity work.

Please let us know if you would like to get involved in this work, or have questions or feedback. Email us at info@artisttrust.org.