top of page


The 2016 Grant Lab funding program responded to input from 400+ artists of color with a common request for more equitable and accessible grant-making frameworks and practices.


Grant Lab offered cash awards of $3,000 to 18 Washington State artists working in all disciplines to enhance their creative process. Funded artists were required to offer a public presentation (exhibit, installation, performance, reading, or screening). 



Each of the three agencies, and Artists Up as is own entity, promoted the Grant Lab opportunity through email and social media. Selected Artists Ambassadors were asked to reach out to their contacts and also were requested to nominate fellow artists, particularly if the artist may not elect to seek the opportunity on their own. Each of the nominated artists was then contacted with a special invitation to apply. Workshops were held in Seattle and Kent, as well as via webinar (which received more than 500 views). 4Culture hosted the on-line application and provided technical support.



This experimental application was simplified. Artists were asked to self-identify as an individual and as an artist. These were intentionally open-ended, and artists responded with information, including their race(s), sexual orientation, gender, creative disciplines, etc. However, because we abide by State law (RCW 49.60.400) this information was not provided to the selection panelists. It will be used to assist us in better understanding how artists identify themselves personally and artistically.

Photo of Kamari Bright 

© Naomi Ishisaka

The application process felt like I was actually being given a chance. Although credentials are important, they don’t dictate the level of passion or capacity for impact my work will have.”

Kamari Bright

Writer, Filmmaker, and Musician



Numerous methods of selection panels were tested. Applicants were evaluated on one of three different criteria; potential or demonstrated skill, innovation/experimentation, and community engagement. Each of the three panel groups agreed to common panel practices. Additionally, to further experimentation, the Artist Up partners utilized several test practices when facilitating the panel group (e.g. private scoring, pre-scoring, blind review, etc.).


  • Natasha Alphonse –Seattle

  • Juventino Aranda – Walla Walla

  • Ivan Arteaga – Seattle

  • Silong Chhun –Tacoma

  • Kiana Davis –Renton

  • Ari Glass –Seattle

  • Chad Goller-Soujourner – Seattle

  • Kamla Kakaria – Tukwila

  • Srivani Jade – Kirkland

  • Wilson Mendieta – Seattle

  • Ruben Rodriguez Perez – Seattle

  • Rudy Roushdi – Seattle

  • Melissa Woodward – Shoreline




The majority of Grant Lab applicants and panelists were from underrepresented communities.

Awarded Artists:

  • Kamari Bright

  • John Bunkley

  • Danielle Christian

  • Alex Crozier

  • Lynn DeBeal

  • Rome Esmaili

  • Kiana Harris

  • Sarah Moreno León

  • Emma Levitt

  • Xavier Lopez

  • Sarah Maria Medina

  • Marilyn Montufar

  • Tamiko Nimura

  • Sandra Pressley

  • Gabriel Teodros

  • David Tucker

  • Gordon Wood

  • Miriam Zmiewski-Angelova




Outcomes from Grant Lab and applicant surveys resulted in major modifications of applications and processes, new funding programs and peer coaching opportunities. Our offices rely on collected input that continues to inform our work through a racial equity lens.


Additionally, for artists and administrators interested in our experimental grant process, we are pleased to offer a report about our exploration: Learning from Grant Lab.

By engaging artists as allies and dismantling barriers, the Grant Lab is advocating for an inclusive future in the arts. I am honored to be a recipient of the Grant Lab, a grant that advocates for change and greater equity in the arts.

Marilyn Montufar

Artist and Photographer

Photo of Marilyn Montufar from the Port Townsend Leader



Three Grant Lab awarded artists were interviewed and sketched. Read their stories.


Thank you to each of the featured artists and Tessa Hulls for her art and these interviews.


As both an artist and an individual, Marilyn Montufar is drawn to borderlands. Growing up Mexican American in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles instilled in her a fascination with outskirts, with the places in which stark contrasts dissolve and boundaries are not cleanly defined.

Montufar’s training is in photography and her work often focuses on portraits and landscapes that challenge cultural stereotypes with an empathetic but unyielding softness. 

bottom of page