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Donor Spotlight: Building a Future, Investing in Arts

Sellen Construction President Scott Redman has made investing in the arts a priority for his company.  Sellen’s relationship with ArtsFund dates back to 1975.  Sellen leadership and employees sit on the ArtsFund and Associates boards, volunteer with the Associates program, and participate in ArtsFund’s largest workplace giving campaign, with visits to 15 job sites last year alone.  We sat down with Scott, a current ArtsFund Board member and former Board Chair who has been involved with ArtsFund for over a decade, to explore the history of the relationship, and to see how it’s impacting Sellen’s workplace culture.

Why did you first become involved with ArtsFund?  And why have you continued to support?

I first got involved with ArtsFund around 10 years ago when one of my partners was coming off the Board and then-CEO Peter Donnelly asked if I would step in to represent our company and our industry – and I’ve never left. Partnering with ArtsFund seemed a natural fit for Sellen because we’ve had the privilege of working with some of the Puget Sound’s most notable cultural institutions. These partnerships revealed to us the inherent challenges in running an arts organization: constrained operating budgets, working to fill seats, and a never-ending fundraising cycle to bridge the gap between ticket sale revenues and operating costs. That’s why we got involved with ArtsFund – to help sustain our region’s treasured arts institutions.

What value do you see in connecting your employees with ArtsFund? What feedback do you hear from them?

We believe employee engagement is essential to creating a spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism in our community. We ask all our employees to consider gifts to ArtsFund and United Way as a way to help represent the culture of caring that exists here and to facilitate meaningful investments as thoughtful stewards of our community. We hear that our employees are proud to work for a company that reinvests philanthropic dollars to support our community’s greatest needs.

There’s a lot of development and economic growth in our region, with new buildings going up, companies locating here, and people arriving all the time–what do you see as the role of the arts in that growth? 

The arts play an integral role in sustaining the development and economic growth of Seattle. The Puget Sound region continues to attract new business and people because of its growing economy, picturesque landscape and vibrant arts and cultural scene. Having a diverse arts and cultural sector enhances the quality of life and the reputation of the Puget Sound region. As Seattle continues to develop into a global city, it’s imperative that we support arts and cultural organizations that are essential to Seattle’s vitality.

Scott speaking at a workplace giving kickoff event

Scott speaking at a workplace giving kickoff event

As a business and community leader, what does creativity mean to you?

I believe in the power of creativity.  One of the ways I am inspired to think creatively about how we lead Sellen and the kind of company we are striving to create is through the arts. To me, there is almost nothing as inspiring as seeing someone take a risk and pour their heart and soul into something about which they are passionate – a song, a play, a dance, a painting.  It’s brave, and it helps us see and do things we might not otherwise.

Why is philanthropic giving a priority for Sellen?

Sellen supports organizations and communities within which we work and live. We encourage employees to give time, energy or financial resources to fund specific needs in our community. In 2015, Sellen employees gave more than $450,000 to benefit United Way of King County, ArtsFund, and the American Heart Association during our primary workplace giving campaigns.  Leading by example, Sellen’s leadership team has a long history of volunteering in the community through service on a number of non-profit-related boards and committees. We are very fortunate to have our health, our families and friends, a good job, and the prospect for success.  With that success comes a responsibility to invest in causes we care about and help others.

News Flash!  Scott will be the host of ArtsFund’s Celebration of the Arts Luncheon on May 4th.  Save the Date!

Photos courtesy of Scott Redman/ Sellen Construction.