Visual and Performing Arts

The Creative Advantage

The creative advantage logo with text "Arts Education Now. Innovative minds tomorrow" with photo of student working with clay

Seattle Public Schools Arts Plan

The Creative Advantage is the Seattle Public Schools arts plan . It is a city-wide initiative to establish equitable access to arts learning for every Seattle Public Schools student. It is a coordinated network that includes the district, the Seattle Office of Arts & CultureSeattle Foundation, and more than 100 community arts partners.

We envision a city where, through the arts, all youth have voice to influence positive change in their schools and community and to develop skills for work and life. It’s an equity issue. A basic education inclusive of the arts is mandatory in Washington State, but many schools are not able to provide the necessary class time for arts instruction. While there are award-winning arts programs in some schools, many students do not have consistent access to the arts as they move through their school careers. This is especially true for students of color who are furthest from educational justice.

What is The Creative Advantage

Seattle Public Schools and The Creative Advantage are building access to arts education for all students by:

  1. Increasing art and music instruction from certified teachers during the school day.
  2. Ensuring that all arts instruction is culturally responsive to all students, teaches sequential arts skills and techniques, and develops students’ 21st Century skills – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and growth-mindset.
  3. Increasing opportunities to enhance student engagement by integrating arts with other core content in their classrooms.
  4. Providing students with consistent access to Seattle’s diverse, high-quality teaching artists and community-based arts organizations.
  5. Providing students with opportunities to connect their passion for the arts to careers in creative industries.

History and Progress

The Creative Advantage History

Equitable access to arts instruction is our mission in The Creative Advantage. Arts instruction is an essential component of educating the whole child and preparing them for college, career, and life in the 21st century. The foundation of The Creative Advantage was set in 2011 with a generous grant from the Wallace Foundation to develop a plan for SPS to provide high quality arts education equitably across the the district. The grant allowed the district to accelerate its efforts to address systemic barriers to students’ access to arts, and increased its capacity to expand its goals.

The Creative Advantage utilizes the resources of the district, the city, and arts organizations to provide a K-12 continuum of arts learning in schools. Comprehensive research conducted throughout the district showed that arts access gaps were greatest for students of color, low-income, and English Language Learners (ELL) students.  The Creative Advantage is dedicated to eliminating access gaps.

The Creative Advantage began in 2013-14 with 13 schools in the Central Arts Pathway, and each year expands to more regional K-12 pathways.

The Creative Advantage Progress

Each year, a third-party evaluator gathers quantitative and qualitative data on both the implementation and the impact of The Creative Advantage. They have found overall that arts learning has become a priority, not only for the district, but for the city and community at large.

Additional encouraging findings from the first three years of implementation:

  • More than 5,000 elementary students are attending music classes that would not have been available without the Creative Advantage.
  • The number of elementary schools with K-5 music and visual arts classes has more than doubled.
  • Students meeting standard in the arts significantly improved in the pathway elementary schools.
  • Clear evidence of growth in 21st Century Skills in Creative Advantage classrooms in student perseverance, critical thinking and culturally-responsive teaching.
  • Evidence of robust relationships with community arts partners.

By 2018, the Creative Advantage expanded to a total of 61 schools (out of 102 total SPS schools). The Creative Advantage team is developing more opportunities to connect arts to career for secondary students through Media Arts Skills Center courses offered in the summer and during the school year.


Creative Advantage Schools

Creative Advantage Schools

Last updated 12/8/2020

Cohort 1 (14 schools) started in 2013-14 :

These schools are eligible for Arts Sustainability Funds . Schools marked with an * are in SPS Equity Tiers 1-3 and are eligible for up to $10,000. Schools with no * are eligible for up to $5,000.

Meany K-12 Arts Pathway

  • Garfield High School*
  • Seattle World School*
  • Nova High School
  • Meany Middle School (opened in 2016-17)*
  • Lowell Elementary*
  • Montlake Elementary
  • Stevens Elementary
  • Leschi Elementary*
  • McGilvra Elementary
  • Madrona Elementary

Washington K-12 Arts Pathway 

  • Garfield High School*
  • Washington Middle School*
  • Bailey Gatzert Elementary*
  • John Muir Elementary*
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary

Cohort 2 (10 schools) started in 2015-16:

Some of these schools have a balance of Creative Advantage funds to spend on arts partnerships. The balance is in parentheses. If they do not, they are eligible for  Arts Sustainability Funds. Schools marked with an * are in SPS Equity Tiers 1-3 and are eligible for up to $10,000. Schools with no * are eligible for up to $5,000.

Denny K-12 Arts Pathway

  • Chief Sealth High School* 
  • SW Interagency @Roxhill
  • Denny Middle School*($500)
  • Arbor Heights Elementary($3,500)
  • Boren K-8 STEM($12,400)
  • Concord Intl Elementary* ($500)
  • Highland Park Elementary*($1,400)
  • West Seattle Elementary*($4,900)
  • Roxhill Elementary*($4,000)
  • Sanislo Elementary*($3,000)

Cohort 3 (21 schools) started in 2016-17:

Many of these schools have a balance of Creative Advantage funds to spend on arts partnerships. The balance is in parentheses. If they do not, they are eligible for  Arts Sustainability Funds. Schools marked with an * are in SPS Equity Tiers 1-3 and are eligible for up to $10,000. Schools with no * are eligible for up to $5,000.

Aki K-12 Arts Pathway:

  • Rainier Beach High School($15,000)
  • SE Interagency@Columbia*
  • South Lake High School*
  • Aki Kurose Middle School($15,000)
  • South Shore PK-8* ($8,000)
  • Dunlap Elementary* ($14,500)
  • Emerson Elementary* ($11,000)
  • Graham Hill Elementary* ($11,300)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Elem* 
  • Rainier View Elementary* ($10,100)
  • Wing Luke Elementary* ($13,900)

Mercer K-12 Arts Pathway:

  • Cleveland STEM HS*($15,000)
  • Franklin HS*($11,400)
  • Mercer Intl Middle * ($15,000)
  • Orca K-8($10,400)
  • Beacon Hill Intl Elementary*(Already allocated funds for 20-21)
  • Dearborn Park Intl Elementary*($11,800)
  • Hawthorne Elementary*($8,000)
  • Kimball Elementary* ($8,100)
  • Maple Elementary* ($9,300)
  • Rising Star Elementary* ($10,300)

Cohort 4 (18 schools) started in 2018-19:

These schools are in year 3 of Creative Advantage planning and implementation. They all have funds to spend on arts partnerships this year.

McClure K-12 Arts Pathway:

  • Center High School
  • McClure Middle School
  • Catharine Blaine K-8
  • TOPS K-8
  • Frantz Coe Elementary
  • John Hay Elementary
  • Lawton Elementary
  • Queen Anne Elementary
  • Magnolia Elementary (opened and will be added in 2019-20)

Madison K-12 Arts Pathway:

  • West Seattle High School
  • Beacon Interagency @Youngstown
  • Madison Middle School
  • Pathfinder K-8
  • Alki Elementary
  • Fairmount Park Elementary
  • Gatewood Elementary
  • Genesee Hill Elementary
  • Lafayette Elementary

Cohort 5 (18 schools) started in 2019-20:

These schools are in year 2 of Creative Advantage planning and implementation. They all have funds to spend on arts partnerships this year.

Robert Eagle Staff K-12 Arts Pathway:

  • Ingraham Intl High School
  • Robert Eagle Staff Middle School
  • Broadview-Thomson K-8 School
  • Licton Springs K-8 School
  • Daniel Bagley Elementary
  • Cascadia Elementary
  • Greenwood Elementary
  • Northgate Elementary

Jane Addams K-12 Arts Pathway:

  • Nathan Hale High School
  • Middle College at Northgate
  • Jane Addams Middle School
  • Hazel Wolf K-8 School
  • Decatur Elementary
  • John Rogers Elementary
  • Olympic Hills Elementary
  • Olympic View Elementary
  • Sacajawea Elementary
  • Cedar Park Elementary

On-line Learning by Creative Advantage Partners

When schools closed Spring 2020, Creative Advantage arts partners got to work to ensure that youth (and adults too) get arts learning while at home.

Arts Corps : Live youth arts events and pre-recorded on-line lessons for all ages in multiple disciplines, including a daily YouthSpeaks writing prompt

Bayfest Youth Theatre : Theatre and dance lessons

Coyote Central : Lessons in sculpture, painting, origami, writing, culinary, film-making

KUOW RadioActive : Radio stories by area youth made during the pandemic

MoPOP : K-12 lessons in crafting, fantastic creatures and social activism

Moving Minds Dance : Keep dancing at home!

Seattle Opera : Opera Time for kids, ages 2-7

Seattle Theatre Group : Videos led and created by STG Teaching Artists and offer a variety of genres including dance, music, and musical theatre.

STYLE : Weekly read-aloud lesson with original soundtracks.