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Our Story: 50 Years of Impact

For 50 years, ArtsFund has been strengthening the arts and cultural sector in the Puget Sound. In 1969, prompted by the 1962 World’s Fair impact on Seattle, corporate and civic leaders recognized the critical role that arts and culture would play in developing and sustaining a creative and thriving region. Through a $25,000 grant from the Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural, and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO), ArtsFund was formed as the United Arts Council of Puget Sound to help establish and fortify the major arts and culture institutions in the area, including ACT Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Opera, the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Rep, and the Seattle Art Museum.

Through numerous name changes (United Arts Council of Puget Sound, 1969-1975; Corporate Council for the Arts, 1975-2003; and ArtsFund, 2003-present), the purpose of the organization has been the same: To strengthen the community through supporting the arts. Under the leadership of Robert Gustavson (1969-1989), Peter Donnelly (1989-2005), Jim Tune (2005-2012), Mari Horita (2012-2019), interim CEO Sandy McDade (2019), interim President & CEO Sue Coliton (2019-2020), and Michael Greer (2020-), ArtsFund has awarded nearly $84 million in grants to 240 organizations in the Puget Sound cultural community and become one of the nation’s leading United Arts Funds. Over the decades, ArtsFund has worked to strengthen the region’s vital and evolving creative sector through leadership, advocacy, and grantmaking. Join us as we continue our commitment to building a future for the arts over the next 50 years.

1969

The United Arts Council of Puget Sound (ArtsFund) is formed with a $25,000 grant from Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural, and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO).

Ed Rauscher, President of the Board of Trustees, hires Robert E. Gustavson as the Executive Director.

The first fundraising campaign is completed granting $190,000. The six primary beneficiary organizations are: ACT, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Opera, Seattle Rep, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

1975

The United Arts Council of Puget Sound (ArtsFund) changes its name to Corporate Council for the Arts to reflect corporate funding as the main funding source for the organization.

1988

Corporate Council for the Arts (ArtsFund) expands its mission from raising money to bringing arts to the table in a more highly visible way and serves as a catalyst for important arts initiatives.

1989

Peter Donnelly is hired as President & CEO.

ArtsFund hosts its first Celebration of the Arts Luncheon

ArtsFund launches the Associates program, providing executives with the opportunity to learn about the cultural community through on-site visits to cultural organizations, hearing from leaders about what it takes to run an arts and cultural organization.

1991

Corporate Council for the Arts (ArtsFund) and The Boeing Company create a fund for Arts & Culture capital projects (Building for the Arts). Through Building for the Arts, the Department of Commerce has granted $113M to 241 projects across the state of Washington since it’s creation.

To provide a new revenue stream for arts support, Corporate Council for the Arts (ArtsFund) introduces Workplace Giving to the region.

1992

Corporate Council for the Arts (ArtsFund) releases its first Economic Impact Study for King County. ArtsFund continues to track and share the sector’s economic impact data, with the 6th such study to be released in 2021.

1999

ArtsFund launches the Board Leadership Training (BLT) program, which equips current and future board members with the skills needed to help arts organizations be successful financially and artistically. To date, BLT has served 770 individuals.

2003

Corporate Council for the Arts (ArtsFund) changes its name to ArtsFund to the greater shift to individual giving.

2005

Jim Tune is hired as President & CEO.

Jim Tune

2009

The Cultural Resource Collective, a community network that serves arts & cultural organizations to better understand Northwest patrons launches. Members span King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

2012

Mari Horita is hired as President & CEO.

2013

ArtsFund launches its new logo in partnership with Dapper + Associates with an outdoor campaign featuring billboards throughout the region.

ArtsFund presents power2give/PugetSound, a regional arts crowdfunding platform. Through September 2016, ArtsFund matches donations, generating a total of $1.2M in support of 228 projects across 100 multidisciplinary arts and cultural organizations.

ArtsFund begins hosting Convenings, a series of capacity-building trainings geared to the cultural community.

2016

The Cultural Partners Network (CPN) is created, which deepens ties between organizations through trainings, events, and communications, provides capacity building resources, and generates exposure to new audiences and donors. By 2019, the CPN included 120 cultural organizations in a three county region.

2017

The Multicultural Arts Project grant is piloted, which enables ArtsFund to generate support for smaller, culturally specific organizations, and to provide broader access to funding and capacity building resources.

ArtsFund connects emerging leaders and business professionals through the Visionaries program, which seeks to reduce barriers to arts participation and make the arts accessible to all.

2018

ArtsFund joins a collaborative of funders to pilot and participate in the Creative Equity Fund managed by the Seattle Foundation to provide grants to organizations using arts and culture strategies to increase racial justice.

ArtsFund releases its inaugural Social Impact of the Arts Study, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

2019

As ArtsFund searches for a new President & CEO, former board chair, Sandy McDade serves as Interim CEO.

 

Sue Coliton is hired as the Interim President & CEO to help lead ArtsFund into the future.

ArtsFund begins a celebration of 50 years of impact, including $84M in collective grantmaking across 240 orgs throughout the Central Puget Sound Region, as it continues to look towards a future for the arts.

2020

Michael Greer is hired as ArtsFund’s President & CEO.