The University of Washington and the Greater Seattle Arts

16 Apr

UW intrinsically part of Seattle arts scene
By Nikolaj Lasbo
April 14, 2008

The vibrant Seattle arts scene was ranked first in the nation last week in a report released by Mayor Greg Nickels’ office. Many students from the UW seek internships and jobs at art-related businesses around the city. Some students even get promoted, or create long-term relationships with the business.

“This report confirms what we in Seattle have known for years,” Nickels said. “Seattle is a creative capital that attracts creative people and industries.”

Nickels’ report showed that Seattle has the greatest number of arts-related businesses per capita.

“Students are among world-class arts,” said Sarah Nash Gates, executive director of the School of Drama. “They can tap into the community … and many never leave.”

The importance of an arts education to Seattle citizens and UW students is represented by the growth of employees in arts-related businesses in Seattle. The mayor’s press release cited a study, which stated that the number of employees in arts businesses grew by 13.6 percent since 2007. This is as compared to 2.6 percent growth in other sectors.

Maarika Rang, a senior in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts (IVA), has utilized some of the community resources available to students. She has shown her work in studios and has been involved with The Ave Project. Rang’s art can be seen donning the light fixtures on University Way Northeast.

“It gave me the chance to do the real thing,” Rang said. “I had to work with a client, I had to manage a budget and I was able to put my creativity to work.”

Many community artists are involved at the UW as well, often teaching as adjunct professors in their respective fields. Community arts businesses are also present at career fairs put on by the UW Career Center.

“Drama students have been pleasantly surprised to find that the Career Center knows about the arts community,” Gates said. “[The Career Center] knows that the arts community is there, and when the Center does fairs they have arts entities there.”

The Career Center helps advise students, acting as a bridge from college life to the world of work. Although the counselors cater to a broad range of professions, there isn’t a specialist in arts-related careers.

However, counselors are experienced in connecting students with arts businesses in Seattle.

Patrick Chidsey, senior career counselor, has counseled many students looking for internships or pursuing an arts career. Further, he is in contact with Seattle arts businesses, and knows what employers look for.

Chidsey was surprised that students in all majors have expressed interest in the arts.

“More and more [students] have sought internships and jobs with Seattle businesses such as One Reel (sponsor of Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival) or the Seattle Art Museum,” Chidsey said.

Chidsey added that the skills learned in arts internships and jobs are transferable, and that many UW students have realized this.

“There are many jobs in Seattle that are related to the arts, but they’re not obvious,” Gates said. “A Drama School alumnus was hired away from the Seattle Repertory Theater by Microsoft to produce events for the company.”

“This study supports our mantra that the arts play a significant role in building and sustaining economically vibrant communities,” said Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “It further supports the need for arts education to fuel the creative industries with arts-trained workers.”

[Reach reporter Nikolaj Lasbo at]

Online at: The Daily


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