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ArtsFund is one of the nation’s leading United Arts Funds. 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.

50 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 240 arts organizations with more than $84 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 $113 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 refocused ArtsFund’s mission and vision on community and access, and established a bold and inclusive vision for the role of the arts in this region. Under Mari’s leadership, ArtsFund doubled the number of arts partners served, forged new relationships in the public, philanthropic, and civic communities, and established equity and inclusion as a central value. In addition to providing more than $17M in grants to over 70 arts groups through seven successful annual campaigns, during Mari’s tenure ArtsFund launched new initiatives such as the crowdfunding platform power2give, which generated over $1M for over 200 arts projects; stepped up as an inaugural supporter of community initiatives such as the Creative Equity Fund; and produced important resources such as an Economic Impact Study in 2015 and ArtsFund’s first Social Impact of the Arts Study in 2018.

After seven years of leadership, Mari Horita stepped down in January of 2019.  Sandy D. McDade, former ArtsFund Board Chair, served as Interim CEO upon Mari’s departure through September 2019. In September 2019, Sue Coliton, a longtime arts leader and advocate, stepped into the role of Interim President & CEO to usher in ArtsFund’s 50th year.