Make It Work! Seattle's Arts Enablers: Lyall Bush


Category: Arts + Events Articles


In 2006 Lyall Bush took over the directorship of Richard Hugo House (, Seattle’s premier center for writing and reading. Since then, he has revamped the organization's programming by curating eclectic showcases of nationally known writers, such as Rick Moody, and local upstarts, such as David Schmader, while continuing to coordinate workshops, residencies and classes throughout the year. T.N.

Q. Do you think it’s more important to cultivate audiences for writers in Seattle, or to cultivate writers?
A. My mission has been to pay writers for their work, either through teaching classes, residencies or our public events. I’ve been executive director for two years and from the start I’ve felt very strongly that it’s highly important to encourage and value new work. Artists want to work and they want that work to be seen. We try very hard to make sure artists are tended as well as audiences. Though, of course, a balance is important.

Q. Do you think there’s a connection between the local landscape and the local writers?
A. I’m not one to champion the generic idea of regional writing. Do you write good sentences? Do you live here? Well then, you have my vote. It makes sense, too, I think, to reseed the ground with writers from outside the city coming in and sharing the stage with writers with only local reputations, or no reputations even.

Q. What do you think Seattle’s greatest assets are for artists?
A. The city of loggers and plane builders has been supplanted by a metropolis of start-ups and readers. Each loves the adventure of experiment and the pleasure of hunting for a fresh way. I think that’s the mix that makes this city welcome new stories and new writing.