ArtsFund is one of the nation’s leading United Arts Funds. With the development of Seattle Center and the 1962 Century 21 Exposition (World’s Fair), Seattle began to carve out its place on the cultural map. Begun in 1969 as the United Arts Council of Puget Sound, ArtsFund brought together corporate and civic leaders to help establish and fund the major arts institutions of the day, including the opera, symphony, ballet and theater. On October 23, 1969, with a grant of $25,000 from PONCHO (The Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations),the United Arts Council of Puget Sound was incorporated, and ArtsFund’s history began.
44 years and a couple of name changes later (to Corporate Council for the Arts in 1975 and to ArtsFund in 2003), ArtsFund has strengthened the community by supporting over 75 arts organizations with more than $71 million in grants and by providing valuable leadership and advocacy.
A period of expansion for ArtsFund began in 1989 with the hiring of Peter Donnelly as President and CEO. Peter had been instrumental in the success of the Seattle Repertory Theatre and the building of the Bagley Wright Theatre. Under Peter’s leadership, ArtsFund created, along with The Boeing Company, a statewide program known as Building for the Arts. Building for the Arts channels state funds to arts organizations’ capital building projects, and funds secured through this program now surpass $81 million. Under Peter’s leadership, community members’ trust in our allocations process began drawing endowment gifts which today total nearly $15 million. Additionally the Century Building became our permanent home and revenue source and we became one-third owners of Classic KING FM.
The name ArtsFund was added in the mid 1990’s as individual donors joined businesses in using our trusted grant making process to distribute their personal arts philanthropy. ArtsFund’s 2003 official name change from CCA reflected both an increasing focus on attracting individual contributors as well as the expanded range of arts organizations that we support. ArtsFund is currently the only organization in the region where a single contribution supports the full range of arts organizations, across all disciplines, both large and small.
When Peter retired as in 2005, attorney and community leader Jim Tune took the helm. Jim led the process of institutionalizing the ArtsFund brand, expanding fundraising and programmatic efforts, and strongly positioning ArtsFund to take the next steps forward.
Mari Horita took the reins as President & CEO in January, 2012. Under her leadership, in the fall of 2012, ArtsFund embarked upon a comprehensive strategic planning process, the results of which are driving our work moving forward.
Just as the Seattle environment went through dramatic changes in the 60s, it is doing so again. Seattle’s economy is no longer dominated by a few large companies as it was then. The region has a diverse economic base including software, technology, manufacturing, healthcare, research and philanthropy. Similarly its arts organizations are now wide-spread and diverse. The area has a growing national reputation for its innovative and vibrant arts community, which is a driving force in national and global recognition of the region as one of innovation and invention, and of creative vitality luring top talent at the forefront of new business and research, technology and design. And, as evidenced in the 2010 census, the demographics of the region have changed.
In response to the region’s evolution and the objectives and priorities identified through the strategic planning process, ArtsFund is looking to expand and deepen its impact in the community by generating new support for an increasingly broad range of arts organizations in our region. These goals are reflected in our expanded mission and vision, and are reinforced by our ongoing and upcoming initiatives.