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Arts and Social Change Symposium

Key arts and civil rights agencies in Seattle, King County and Washington State will join forces to present Arts & Social Change, a regional symposium, Oct. 12 and 13, at Seattle Center. The event addresses the role that the arts can play in creating awareness, inspiring understanding and developing policies to addess social change.

Arts and cultural administrators, artists, civil rights and social service professionals, local government staffs, and community leaders are invited to participate. National speakers will present three probing plenary sessions, including Dr. Manuel Pastor of University of Southern California addressing Changing Demographics and the Arts in the West, Hmong actor/comedian Tou Ger Xiong from Minneapolis, and Donna Walker-Kuhne, a New York consultant addressing strategies and methods to engage diverse communities as participants for arts and culture.

In addition to the plenary sessions, the symposium will also feature panels, workshops, engagement activities and artists  performing or exhibiting artwork that speaks to how art can be used as a vehicle for social change. The artwork will be located in a temporary exhibit space in the Northwest Rooms, and will be open to symposium attendees and the general public.

The symposium takes place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus an evening event from 6:30pm – 9pm, Friday, Oct. 12,  and 9am to 4pm, Saturday, Oct. 13. in the Northwest Rooms at Seattle Center and Seattle Center Playhouse. Cost of registration, including two lunches and a performance reception, is $100 regular rate. The general public may also purchase $15 tickets to attend the Oct. 12 performance Tou Ger Xiong. For information and registration, visit

The symposium is an interagency effort among Washington State Arts Commission/The Wallace Foundation, 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Seattle Center and Festál, Seattle Office for Civil Rights, and The Association of American Cultures, a national arts advocacy organization. The Boeing Company is also sponsoring the event. 

BACKGROUND:  The staff from Washington State Arts Commission, 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and Seattle Center have together coordinated three Ethnic Arts Showcases since 2005 to promote the powerful and engaging work of emerging ethnic creative artists in Washington State. This year, the interagency effort has expanded to include Seattle Office for Civil Rights and The Association of American Cultures. With additional membership and funding, the steering committee saw an opportunity to plan a symposium that would gather folks who engage with or are from arts and/or social change communities in the to explore what it means to be transformative change agents via the arts.

LOCATION:  Since its beginning 50 years ago, Seattle Center has served as a cultural and civic gathering place at the core of our region. In 2012, The Next Fifty at Seattle Center celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair and the physical legacy it left. The 74-acre Seattle Center campus, home to more than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations presenting nearly 5,000 events annually, exists to delight and inspire the human spirit in each person and bring together our rich and varied community.