Laura Marie Rivera, Seattle School Board District 4 Candidate — 2021 General Election

CANDIDATE: Laura Marie Rivera, Seattle School Board District 4 Candidate


I am an artist. I am proud to be endorsed by the Teamsters and by Seattle’s Vice President of IATSE. My first visit to Seattle was with my first Broadway Touring Production. I was just 22 years old. We played the 5th Avenue Theatre and I ended up returning to sign two more bricks backstage at that theater. Since my days as a dancer, I have transitioned to education and nonprofits. I helped build the original School Programs at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and personally guided 10,000 students through their very first visit to a museum. As a parent, I have naturally included the arts into everything that we do. My children have been painting since they could hold a brush, were in music class before they could talk, and saw their first Nutcracker production before they could dance.

The arts have defined my life and continue to make it more rich and meaningful… You can take the girl out of the chorus, but you can’t take the chorus out of the girl!

Tell us about your personal involvement in Seattle’s art and cultural life. How do you make art a part of your life? 

My involvement in Seattle’s art and cultural life began in the ‘90s at the 5th Avenue Theatre. And when we moved up here to make Seattle our home, I was proud to see my old coworkers still there and the addition of a thriving education program. Other engagement here in Seattle includes membership to some of the greatest museums in the city, supporting SAM and the renovations of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, singing with the symphony, and joining the board of Coyote Central- an inclusive, pay-what-you-can arts organization that provides engaging classes for ages 10-15. They describe themselves as “a community powered by curiosity, creativity, and collaboration” and I describe them as: the personification of equity and engagement in the arts and education/ exactly what I would like to see in all of our schools.

And just this last year, I took on a new challenge. I was at home facilitating the learning for four kids- from kindergarten to high school. As the pandemic wore on, I watched my friends in the arts pivot or ride out the storm. My family stayed at home doing online school and engaged with as many arts opportunities as possible. We started with free drawing lessons with Mo Willems right after the schools closed. This evolved to online concerts, seeing my old coworkers in online readings, and season tickets to the virtual PNB season. When I realized that we would not get to do all of the fun holiday things that come with a normal year of kindergarten, I formed a plan. My first Nutcracker was in 1982 and I knew I wanted to bring some of that holiday cheer to last year’s long winter. So, I decided to produce my own inclusive and adorable A Seattle Nutcracker video, starring 25 inexperienced little ones. With my years of ballet, teaching, and theatrical know-how, I figured I could make it work. And I did- casting to choreography, lessons to filming, editing and marketing- all of it. (The News feature can be found on my YouTube page: )

This survey from ArtsFund shows that the Seattle arts and cultural community has seen significant declines (over 50%) in income due to Covid. The arts already operate on a razor’s edge and many organizations may not be able to afford the cost of reopening. How will you support Seattle’s arts and culture sector in its reopening and revitalization?

As a School Board Director, I will continue to put the “A” in STEAM.

While I do not imagine myself creating a video feature with 50,000 SPS students, I do want to make sure that their education is rich with the arts. Seattle’s arts and culture scene has so much to offer- for students of all ages and abiilties. I will partner with our arts organizations to raise awareness and include as many students as possible. But most of all, I want to teach students that they belong in our arts and cultural institutions. By exposing them to all that Seattle has to offer- early and often- we are expanding their horizons in ways no classroom can. And we are cultivating our future audiences and supporters, and hopefully inspiring the next generation of future artists!