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Reimagining ArtsFund’s Celebration of the Arts

When the pandemic forced ArtsFund to move our 2020 Celebration of the Arts Luncheon online, we discovered hidden opportunities within the scramble to digitize the event. Suddenly, the event was accessible to more individuals than ever before, more inclusive of diverse voices from across our community, and compatible with more forms of art and performance.

Moving the Celebration of the Arts online removed several barriers that might have prevented someone from attending the Luncheon in years past. The digital platform eliminated ticket and travel costs and brought the event within a few feet of any viewer or performer with a strong internet connection. One could participate while at work or looking after children (or both!), from Seattle or Spokane or San Francisco. These changes opened up the event to a more diverse group of arts supporters and cultural workers–key stakeholders who will be critical to ArtsFund’s work advocating for the arts sector.

The digital platform also created opportunities to celebrate and advocate for our arts community in new ways. Though we dearly miss the electricity of in-person performances, we found the digital event uniquely well-suited to large-scale performances as well as intimate discussion. Northwest Tap Connection transported viewers to multiple locations across Seattle, and Seattle Symphony’s performance featured 14 different musicians. Moments later, Marcie Sillman of KUOW led a panel of arts leaders in an insightful and somber conversation about the state of the arts sector. Streaming also allowed for easy integration of visual art forms, and ArtsFund was delighted to feature student photography from the organization Youth in Focus. Performances from last year’s event and more can be found here.

ArtsFund plans to build on these successes–both for the 2021 Digital Celebration of the Arts, and further into the future. We’re implementing technology to improve access to individuals with disabilities, and we’re doubling down on our efforts to involve diverse voices and perspectives on both sides of the screen.

When the cultural sector can mount its recovery from this pandemic, however, there are reasons to hope that innovations of the past year can inspire a reimagination for arts organizations–transforming how they serve our community.

You can celebrate and support this reimagination by joining our community at the 2021 Celebration of the Arts on May 6. Registration opens on April 1. Learn more here.

Header image (l-r): photos from the 2020 Digital Celebration of the Arts: Ahamefule J. Oluo, ArtsFund Trustee Karen Bergin, and Northwest Tap Connection.