Seattle Public Schools

The Creative Advantage

Resources for Schools & Partners

These resources are to support school arts teams at various stages of The Creative Advantage arts expansion: planning, implementation and partnership, and sustaining your arts growth.

teacher working with two elementary students on a clay project


For schools in their Arts Planning Year:

  • How to start an arts team
  • Introducing the Arts Plan to school staff (Includes arts lessons to do with staff.)

For schools that are Implementing Arts Plans:

Starting and Maintaining Community Arts Partnerships:

  • How to use your Creative Advantage partnership funds
  • Examples of past Creative Advantage-funded School Arts Partnerships (posted soon)

The Creative Advantage Arts Partnership Tools

These tools were developed by a team of SPS teachers, school leaders, teaching artists and arts organization administrators. The team was facilitated by Seattle Art Museum and funded by The Wallace Foundation.

General Arts Resources:

Getting Started with The Creative Advantage

In order to build relevant, consistent, sequential arts learning for students as they advance through their K-12 years, The Creative Advantage supports regional and school arts planning across each K-12 pathway of schools – the elementary, middle and high schools in a feeder pattern, then provides resources for implementing those plans. 

We support schools in expanding all types of arts learning (arts classes, partnerships and integrated arts) in all arts disciplines (dance, literary arts, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts) across all of the school community (students, school staff, families). 

Start by building an Arts Team!  

Starting a School Arts Team

What will the school arts team do?

School arts teams will initially attend a 3-hr workshop to learn about the components of quality arts education and review their school and regional arts access data. Then, in two, 3-hr school planning meetings that are facilitated by arts leadership coaches, the school arts team will develop an arts vision and an action plan – a multiyear, school-wide road map that outlines decisions about arts staffing, integrated arts, professional development, and how to connect school-community arts partnerships to their school’s goals.

Who should be on the school arts team?

The 7-10 person team should reflect the school’s individual character and community.  Invite staff, parents/guardians and community members already involved in the arts, but also consider inviting those who have not previously shown an interest in the arts. 


  • Who in your school community could be key in moving the arts forward?
  • Who in your school community is committed to equitable access to arts learning?
  • Committed individuals from inside as well as outside the school walls.
  • Are there particular parents & guardians who have skills that may be useful?
  • Are there businesses or arts organizations nearby who could lend support?


  • School leader (1) Principal or assistant principal required
  • Arts staff (1-2)*
  • Non-arts staff (2-3)* Mix of grade levels and subject experts. Other specialists such as PE and library share schedules with arts, so could be useful voices to include as would members of your racial equity teams and MTSS teams.
  • Parents/Guardians (1-2) – Mix of PTA/non-PTA members.  Consider parents of younger students who will be around for a few years.
  • Students (2-3) – For middle or high schools.
  • Community artists/orgs (1-2) – Someone who is already working in your school.

*For each school the district has budgeted for a total of 3 SEA represented arts committee members for up to 9 hours in the first year and 5 hours in the second year of school arts planning.  If meeting times are outside the contracted day, they will be paid the negotiated rate.  For meetings held during the school day, subs will be funded.   

Sample Text for invitation to join a School Arts Team…

Dear _____,

Students who participate in the arts do better academically, are more engaged in learning, are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to go on to college, and as adults are more to participate in their community through voting and volunteering. We want young people to have the tools to express themselves and their ideas.

The Creative Advantage is a city-wide initiative to establish equitable access to arts learning for all Seattle Public School students.  We are building access to arts education for all students by adding arts and music classes, integrating arts into other subjects, creating opportunities to learn from professional artists and engaging students in culturally relevant arts. We do this to empower student voices and enhance school culture today — and to open doors to careers tomorrow.  This year, the all of the K-12 schools in our region, including our school, are in year one of The Creative Advantage 3-year implementation process.  The focus of this year in on school-based arts vision and action planning. 

This fall, I am forming a school arts team to develop a vision and action plan for ensuring that every student has the opportunity to learn through the arts.  I invite you to join the team.  It will include school staff – arts and non-arts teachers, families, a community arts partner, and me.  

Arts team members will attend a 3-hr workshop at a neighborhood location in October to learn about the components of quality arts education and do some arts-making themselves.  Then, this winter, the team will meet in two, 3-hr school planning meetings that are facilitated by a principal arts leadership coach to develop an arts vision and an action plan – a multi-year, school-wide road map that outlines decisions about arts staffing, integrated arts, professional development, and how to connect school-community arts partnerships to our school’s goals.

Please consider joining our school arts team.  Members of arts teams at other schools have found the process and the impact of school arts planning to be engaging and inspiring. I know that you would make a valuable contribution to creating and implementing an arts plan that empowers student voices and enhances our school culture.  

Creative Advantage Arts Partnership Guidelines


The Creative Advantage is a city-wide initiative to establish equitable access to arts education for each and every student in Seattle Public Schools.  We do this by closing access gaps in elementary art and music instruction, training teachers to integrate arts into other subjects and creating opportunities for students to learn from professional artists and engage in culturally relevant art-making. These goals are supported through partnerships with Seattle’s vibrant and diverse teaching artists and community arts organizations.

What is a Creative Advantage School Arts Partnership?

Every Creative Advantage school receives $15,000 over two or three years to spend on arts partnerships.  
Partnership funds are for payment to arts partners selected from The Creative Advantage Arts Partner roster.

Aligned with our district-wide arts goals, partnerships between schools and community arts partners will fall under one of the following categories:

  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT for staff that focuses on high quality arts integration
  • Teaching artist residencies that provide INTEGRATED ARTS LEARNING experiences during the school day.
  • Teaching artist residencies that provide CULTURAL ARTS LEARNING experiences during the school day.

Funds can be used to pay community arts partners for the hours spent providing service in class or professional development, preparation time, materials, administrative fees and mileage.  Funds cannot be used to pay for SPS staff time.

All partnerships must have an approved personal services contract BEFORE services begin.

What Schools are Creative Advantage Schools in 2019-20?

New North-end Arts Pathway Schools (Robert Eaglestaff MS and Jane Addams MS Feeder Patterns) will form arts team and conduct school arts vision and action planning this fall and winter. Please contact your principal if you would like to join the arts team.  In January, after planning, each school will have $3,000 to spend on arts partnerships in the second semester and $6,000 to spend next year and $6000 the year after.

Central and Southwest Arts Pathway Schools (McClure MS and Madison MS Feeder Patterns) will have $6000 (plus any underspend from 2018-19) to spend on partnerships.

Southeast Arts Pathway Schools (Aki MS and Mercer MS Feeder Patterns) will have $4500 (plus any underspend from 2018-19 to spend on partnerships.

South-Southwest Arts Pathway Schools (Denny MS K-12 feeder pattern) and Central Arts Pathway Schools (Washington MS K-12 feeder pattern) have completed their Creative Advantage partnership supports.  Many schools have underspend from the previous year to spend on new partnerships. If you would like to set up an arts partner residency in your school or professional development for you and your staff, connect with your school arts team.

How does a school set up a Creative Advantage Arts Partnership?

STEP 1: In your arts action planning meeting, decide what types of partnerships your arts team wants for your students.

Think about aligning partnerships with your school arts vision or a goal in your school C-SIP.  For example: An all-staff PD on integrating media arts into ELA?  A residency that teaches 3rd grade students storytelling through drumming?  Using theatre to teach the salmon life cycle?  The possibilities are wonderfully endless.

STEP 2: Search for an artist who meets your needs  

You can filter by grade band, arts discipline and other categories such as experience with English Language Learners. Visit the Creative Advantage Roster.

STEP 3: Contact 1-3 partners who may be a good fit

Describe the program you have in mind.  Ask them about their experience working with that particular age group or population.  Tell them about your timeline and budget.  Discuss other things to help you both decide if a partnership will be successful. 

STEP 4: One you and a teaching artist decide it is a good fit, start the real planning!

Use The Creative Advantage Partnership tools to plan the learning objectives, the scope, schedule and budget of your partnership. 

STEP 5: Next create a personal service contract.

Any partner, who is being paid to provide a program or service for students, families, or staff, must have a Personal Services Contract with Seattle Public Schools before the services begin. Allow at least two weeks prior to beginning work at the school or with the staff.

All forms are available in the SPS Community Partnerships site.

Arts Team Coordinator Description

2019-20 Job Description 

Position Summary:

The Creative Advantage is Seattle Public School’s plan for ensuring that every school is an arts-rich school and that every student has the opportunity to learn through the arts.  School arts teams are an essential strategy.  Arts teams are led by a school leader.  Year one is a planning year and the following years are implementation years.  Once implementation begins, we suggest the school leaders and arts team selects an Arts Team coordinator to schedule and facilitate team meetings and to coordinate arts partnerships within the school.   In the first year, The Creative Advantage provides a stipend to the coordinator.


  1. Schedule and facilitate 3-5 school arts team meetings during the school year.
  2. Attend a training in early November to learn:
    1. How to program and coordinate arts partnerships,
    2. How to contract with arts partners from the Creative Advantage roster
    3. Best practices of co-planning for teachers and teaching artists.
    4. Using an equity lens to make decisions about arts in your school
  3. Attend 2 arts team coordinator PLCs (Jan and May) with Creative Advantage staff to share experiences with colleagues, discuss potential improvements, and provide feedback on school-based programs to Creative Advantage staff.
  4. With support from Creative Advantage staff, coordinate with arts team and school staff to select Creative-Advantage funded arts partnerships (arts integration and/or staff PD) and act as an initial point of contact for arts partners.
  5. Report on partnerships – partners, hours, students served to Creative Advantage project manager
  6. Liaison with our evaluation team, The BERC Group to:
    1. Schedule annual observations and focus groups in the school for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness and impact of The Creative Advantage on a school community.
    2. Complete an annual School Arts Inventory for your school (May/June)
    3. Encourage school staff to complete annual 21st Century Skills attitudes and beliefs survey

Selection criteria:

  • Arts Team Coordinator must be SPS staff.
  • May be appointed by principal or selected by school arts team. 
  • Principal can also be team lead/coordinator
  • Demonstrated interpersonal and organizational skills to coordinate between school staff and arts partners

Position details:

  • Average 20 hours of additional work during the school year
  • The Creative Advantage has received a grant from the NEA to support implementation in the Southeast region.  Thanks to this, we can provide a $500 stipend to compensate the coordinator for additional hours.  Stipend will be paid in June, 2020, upon completion of responsibilities.