The Arts Ecosystem Research Project (AERP) is an initiative of Seattle University’s Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership Program and Lemieux Library dedicated to researching, documenting, and sharing information on the Seattle region’s dynamic arts and culture sector. The focus is the arts organizations, businesses, and major events that have shaped the region’s unique cultural character, with the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair serving as a threshold event in recent cultural history.

The first phase of research looks at the fifty years from 1962 to 2012. Data collected by participating MFA students provides the foundation for a digital Arts Ecosystem Timeline. Additional student research and related sources augment selected timeline entries via a digital repository. Data will be collected and added each year to the timeline and the repository.

The Seattle region has pioneered numerous notable and innovative approaches to the creation, development and presentation of the arts since 1962. This project is designed to:

  • Collect information while many of the individuals involved are able contribute to the understanding, legacy, and lineage of this still young and vibrant arts ecosystem.
  • Provide a foundation for a more nuanced and holistic understanding of the sector and set the stage for further research to inform the future of the arts sector here and elsewhere.
  • Involve and inform future arts leaders though participation in applied research.

The MFA in Arts Leadership at Seattle University requires students to develop applied research skills. Students enrolled in the program’s annual Applied Research Seminar actively contribute to the Arts Ecosystem Research Project.


Browse the Arts Ecosystem Research Project Collections:

12th Avenue Arts


A Contemporary Theatre (ACT)

African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center

Bathhouse Theater

Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA)

Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center

Eagles Auditorium

Empty Space Theatre

Equinox Studios

Francine Seders Gallery

Joint Artists & Music Promotions Action Committee



King County Arts Commission

Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute

Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs

Northwest African American Museum

Northwest Folklife Festival

On the Boards

Pacific Northwest Ballet

Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO)

Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk

Safeco Art Collection

Seattle Arts Commission

Seattle Office of Arts and Culture

Seattle Public Theater

Seattle Theater Group

Seward Clay Studio

Spectrum Dance Theater

Teen Dance Ordinance

Vera Project

Washington Hall

Wing Luke Museum

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience