Giving Voice to Artists through Parks and Community Engagement

Mobile Workshop

This workshop explores how art is crucial in empowering individuals to understand their communities better. Beyond its intrinsic value, art enhances the liveliness and vitality of a city and even improves property value.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture has invested in creating vibrant public areas through public art for over a decade. The program integrates artworks and artists’ ideas into various public settings. By providing opportunities for individuals to encounter art in parks, libraries, community centers, on roadways, bridges, and other public venues, we enrich residents’ daily lives while giving voice to artists.

This workshop features four different park sites where Seattle Parks and Recreation and ARTS have collaborated with the community for artworks spanning four decades. We address styles of community engagement, lessons learned, graffiti, artwork longevity, and public-private partnership options. Little Saigon Park, once a landbank site, now stands as a vibrant testament to Vietnamese culture, featuring thoughtful design and art installations. The neighborhood is an artistic haven infused with expressions of Vietnamese heritage. Pratt Fine Arts Park, nestled in Seattle’s Historic Central Area Arts & Cultural District, is a unique collaborative space where novices and seasoned professionals create art in various mediums. Spruce St. Mini Park’s community-inspired focal points include a massive mural promoting family values and cultural legacy, with artistic imagery gracing many of the park’s vertical surfaces. Cal Anderson Park gained national attention in 2020 when a demonstration for Black Lives turned into a controversial, month-long occupation. Following extensive community engagement, art emerged as a priority for a more inclusive park, reflecting community needs and values.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Recognize the critical role of inclusive public engagement in achieving success in public art projects, gaining insights into how success is dependent on the active involvement of everyone in the community.
  • Identify strategies to advance racial equality through the collaborative design process.
  • Outline steps to achieving race equity by utilizing Rosters, a tool for inclusive decision-making in public art initiatives.
  • Discuss insights from the experiences of parks, where art played a key role during challenging times, recognizing how artistic resilience and adaptability contribute to the longevity and impact of public artworks.