Challenge Day Reflections: Arts & Culture, LT'19

Arts & Culture Challenge Day
January 10, 2019
By: Terry Rice, LT’19

To keep you connected to LT and current issues and topics discussed in the curriculum, LT will share highlights and resources from the recent Challenge Day. We hope you enjoy these monthly updates!

At the Arts & Culture Challenge Day, held at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, LT'19 explored the arts as both a site of racial inequity and a tool of resistance and liberation, met local artists and cultural leaders, learned about the challenges and opportunities in the sector, and discovered new intersections between the arts and their lives.

What could we do if we had the resources to do more than just get by? What would happen if we had the resources to thrive?”
— Manny Cawaling, Executive Director, Cultural Access Washington
Claudia Lawrence.jpg

For a list of objectives and speakers, refer to the agenda. If you would like additional resources, you may access the pre-work here.

Arts and Cultural Leadership Challenge Snapshots

Panelists: Brian Carter, LT'18, 4Culture; Tim Lennon, LT'15, LANGSTON; John Merner, Seattle Center; Becky Witmer, LT'16, ACT Theatre; Moderator: Andy Fife, LT'11, Fife Consulting


Panelists shared their leadership realities and challenges working in their respective contexts. They led us through a conversation about the role of funders and boards of directors. The class asked thoughtful questions leading to discussion of how historical funding, from donors and government, leads to future funding. Brian Carter, LT'18, helped shine a light on how this model leads to inequity, and shared how he is asking questions in his leadership role at 4Culture about who gets funded and why.


Artist Minutes

Artists: Azura Mizan Tyabji, Seattle Youth Poet Laureate; Sandy Cioffi, Executive Director, fearless 360°; Matt Remle, Lead Indigenous Education Liaison, Marysville School District

Azura Mizan Tyabji performed a moving poem about the patriarchal suppression of feminism. Learning about Azura's journey anchored the room in the importance of making space for youth to create art for our communities.

Sandy Cioffi joined us to share her thoughts about cultural innovation. She argued that we must compel a specific use of new and emerging technology to imagine and deliver public art in our communities.

Matt Remle, Lead Indigenous Education Liaison for Marysville School District, closed out our afternoon with Lakota drumming and singing.


Leadership Snapshot: Benevolent Outlaws

Paula Boggs, Founder, Boggs Media, LLC

Paula Boggs discussed how we as leaders cultivate, inspire, and connect with the arts. Her goal in speaking with us was to share what it means to be a citizen artist in the region.

Paula challenged the class to ask the question, "what are you trying to lead?" She spoke of Seattle being a place, but also a state of mind. She defined Seattle as a special and rugged place with a preponderance of people in the creative class. The arts are a major ambassador for Seattle, inspiring more creative-class companies to call Seattle their home. The job of the artist is to speak truth to her city and her nation.


  • Read this article, which details Paula's amazing journey of how she's jumped from airplanes in the ROTC, worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office, reported directly to Howard Schultz, and is now a musician in the Paula Boggs Band.

  • Read this article, written by Paula Boggs, about why she resigned from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Cultural Access Washington: Game Changer?

Manny Cawaling, Executive Director, Cultural Access Washington

We live in an economy of scarcity, and funding is often the Executive Director's biggest challenge. Staff and performers sacrifice day in and day out to continue to create their art. Manny asked, "How do we change this dynamic? What could we do if we had the resources to do more than just get by? What would happen if we had the resources to thrive?"


Manny also discussed the changes in our region and how the pace of this change has left arts organizations struggling to identify how to serve their communities. Cultural Access Washington is committed to realizing the tremendous value of arts and culture in an equitable way.


  • Read this article about Seattle's vanishing black community

  • Read this article about whether art can save the soul of the Central District.

Special thanks to our Challenge Day Sponsors