Who We Are + What We Do

Jack Straw Cultural Center is the Northwest’s only non-profit multidisciplinary audio arts center.

A community-based resource since 1962, we provide a production facility that is unlike any other in the region for local artists who work creatively with sound. Jack Straw focuses on annual artist residencies through our Artist Support Program, our Writers Program, and our Gallery Residency Program; art and technology education for all ages; arts heritage partnerships; and radio and podcast production. Our full-service recording studio is also available for a range of arts projects.

Our Mission

Keeping art, culture, and heritage vital through sound

Jack Straw Cultural Center exists to foster the communication of arts, ideas, and information to diverse audiences through audio media. We provide creation and production opportunities in audio media, including radio, theater, film, video, music, and literature.

Dedicated to the production and presentation of all forms of audio art, Jack Straw 1) produces high quality, innovative audio presentations; 2) commissions independent artists of all disciplines to create sound and audio productions; 3) provides arts and technology education programs for youth and adults; 4) collaborates with arts and heritage organizations to integrate sound and music into their programs; and 5) presents audio productions through events, exhibits, radio, film and the internet.

Our Vision

Individuals and communities strengthening their creativity, sharing their stories, and preserving their cultural traditions.

We help people to recognize and respect their similarities and differences through education programs often tailored to meet the needs of a specific community, e.g., English language learners from Somalia. We provide training to the region’s new low power radio stations, giving a new generation the tools to share their voices. Our education programs build community as students share stories with each other, with their families, and with the greater community.

Our History & Legacy

The Jack Straw Foundation was founded in 1962 by a group of ethnomusicologists and radio producers to create and run KRAB-FM, one of the first community radio stations in the country. The station’s main purpose was to be a forum for the discussion and presentation of science, arts and public affairs programs. Its signature was unique and audacious programming. We also started KBOO-FM in Portland and KSER-FM in Snohomish County, helped start KDNA in Granger WA, and currently house low power FM stations KBFG and KODX. The Jack Straw Foundation was named after a leader of the English Peasant Revolt of 1381. These insurgent peasants traveled throughout southern England, gathering followers, opening prisons, and telling stories.

When KRAB’s frequency was sold in 1984, the Foundation continued to produce and present innovative and neglected sonic arts. In 1989, we opened Jack Straw Productions, now Jack Straw Cultural Center, to serve a diverse community through accessible and hands-on arts and cultural activities in a variety of genres. We help individuals, organizations, and communities to create, document, present, and educate individuals about their art, culture, and heritage. Our programs serve artists and audiences from a variety of artistic genres and cultural backgrounds.

Since 1994, we have run artist residencies for regional and national artists from a variety of disciplines to create and present new work. Our Artist Support Program has helped thousands of artists to create, document, and present new work. In 1997, we created the Jack Straw Writers Program to target the specific needs of writers. We opened the Jack Straw New Media Gallery in 1999 to provide a much-needed venue for artists to create and present new works that use sound in an immersive environment. Since opening, we have presented 99 exhibits and a variety of accompanying public and educational events. We also provide a broad range of classroom, in-studio, and internship programs for both youth and adults, with special efforts to reach and include people of color, immigrants, and individuals with disabilities. We provide language support, audio description, and other access services as needed.

We are committed to keeping art, culture, and heritage vital through sound. We provide individuals and organizations with the tools and support needed to express their art and ideas through audio. In the current environment, we feel our strong commitment to empowering often underserved individuals is more important than ever.