Seattle Arts & Lectures 


Through our public and education programs, SAL engages and inspires more than 20,000 children and adults in the Puget Sound region annually. These programs transcend traditional boundaries such as age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status to reach an audience that reflects the region's rich diversity. Our award-winning literary education program, Writers in the Schools, has helped more than 100,000 students develop and harness their authentic writing and performance voices.

Mission Statement
Seattle Arts & Lectures champions the literary arts by engaging and inspiring readers and writers of all generations in the greater Puget Sound region.
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Seattle Arts & Lectures
205 S Findlay St 
(206) 621-2230 

Ruth E. Dickey 
Executive Director 


Seattle Arts & Lectures Programs

SAL offers innovative programs by established and emerging authors to raise the understanding, appreciation, and visibility of the written and spoken word.             

Literary\Arts Series presents the world's finest contemporary writers and cultural thinkers. Speakers represent many genres and backgrounds and their work consistently impacts contemporary culture nationally and, through our series, locally. We hope that our diverse, culturally relevant, and topical programming inspires our community to think more, read more, write more, and engage in dialogue that will lead to the betterment of our society.                

Writers in the Schools (WITS) improves the reading, writing, and self-confidence of thousands of underserved K-12 youth each year while providing lasting professional development to their teachers. WITS matches public schools with local, professional creative writers who are also dynamic teachers. These writers-in-residence design innovative lesson plans that inspire students to explore creative writing and give them the skills to succeed as students and members of our global community.                

The Poetry Series presents nationally prominent poets—ranging from peak- career masters to up-and-coming artists—in readings and on-stage interviews. Poets are rarely, if ever, sent on tour by their publishers. SAL makes it possible for readers to connect with these writers. Poetry is an oral art. To hear it read by the author is a rare experience that provides insight into the author’s intentions.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

It has been a time of critical change and evolution for Seattle Arts & Lectures, resulting in new—and renewed—engagement and investment in our work. In July 2013, the organization welcomed Ruth E. Dickey as our Executive Director, who in addition to being an award-winning writer, has been recognized as one of 40 Under 40 by the Puget Sound Business Journal and received the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management. We made tough strategic decisions to dramatically decrease expenses and right-size the organization’s operations. These changes and the hard work and commitment of the SAL Board and staff have led to two consecutive years of balanced budgets, streamlined operations, and new (as well as returning) engaged supporters and patrons. Our earned and contributed income continues to grow, and we have begun strategically rebuilding organization-wide capacity—increasing staffing and programming—while maintaining fiscal prudence.  

Despite tight budgetary constraints and staff bandwidth, our public programming has been remarkably successful. In 2013/14, we sold out 5 of 6 of our Literary Arts Series events. We have built on that momentum, and this year, are seeing the dividends of our work in enthusiastic audience response. While subscriptions are declining nationwide, SAL is experiencing dramatic increases (40%) in our subscription sales. We are welcoming capacity crowds at every event, and one audience member shared: “SAL events are evenings that begin with a good meal and maybe a glass of wine with my friends. They end with great conversations as we leave Town Hall to sit on the bus home. And for days/weeks afterward, when I am reading the new book that was highlighted or reflecting on a comment or portion of the evening, I am full of joy.”  

Just before our 2014/15 season began, we completed a six-month strategic planning process. We invited and carefully considered input from many community stakeholders, including writers-in-residence from our WITS program, school and community partners, key community thought leaders, staff members, subscribers, donors, sponsors, and peer organizations. The board formally adopted the 3-year plan in September 2014. In many ways, this plan represents the culmination of two years of organizational change and intensive community listening, and we committed to three strategic priorities based on our learning: deepening connections and enriching audience experiences with our programs through virtual and in-person initiatives; investing further in our education program (WITS) by expanding into additional high needs schools and developing a summer camp to maximize our reach and impact; and building SAL’s capacity—in terms of systems, infrastructure, human resources and capital—in order to allow us to robustly fulfill our mission.


Seattle Arts and Lectures (SAL) presents various programs with acclaimed writers to raise understanding, appreciation and visibility of the literary arts in our region. They bring national and international poets and authors to the region to discuss not only their work, but also the issues raised by the work.

SAL regularly partners with a host of organizations to cross-pollinate their programs, which aids all organizations involved by combining resources, reaching new audiences and/or deepening event or educational content. They maintain an ongoing partnership with Seattle Art Museum, presenting writers that complement SAM exhibits or strengthening their education program offerings with a SAM visit. Through its Writers in the Schools (WITS) program, SAL collaborates closely with individual schools and teachers in developing a customized curriculum that fits the school and classroom’s need.

Accessibility and Cultural Competency
SAL offers multicultural artists and diverse genres in each season and they are always working to diversify the writers working in its WITS program, to be more reflective of the students and schools it serves. Their educational programming is always heavily subsidized so that schools do not have to cover the entire cost, but they offer special low rates for those schools with more than half of their students receiving free and reduced school lunch.

Best Practices
SAL works to ensure that its WITS curricula are fully integrated with the schools they serve. Each curriculum is customized by the particular teaching writer and the school. SAL sits down with the writers, schools, and teachers to brainstorm about the school’s need before the writer develops a specific curriculum. The program is integrated during the teaching day to engage students with reading, complementing what is being done in the classroom.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

9/10/2012 $7,500.00support general operating expenses.
9/10/2011 $7,500.00support general operating expenses.
9/17/2008 $20,000.00support general operating expenses.


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