Clarion West

Workshops for people who are serious about writing

aka Clarion West Writers Workshop   |   Seattle, WA   |  www.clarionwest.org

Mission

The mission of Clarion West is to support emerging and underrepresented voices by providing writers with world-class instruction to empower their creation of wild and amazing worlds. Through conversation and public engagement, we bring those voices to an ever-expanding community. Vision: we set writers on the path to success, we foster greater equity and inclusion in the speculative fiction world, we help bring quality speculative fiction to light, and we bring writers and readers together.

Notes from the nonprofit

At the end of 2019, the Clarion West Board of Directors launched a growth initiative with the following primary goals: • Increase programming and opportunities for emerging writers; • Increase organizational capacity to partner with accessible housing facilities; • Provide sustainable income and benefits for staff. As a result of this initiative, Clarion West has increased staff hours, provided health reimbursement benefits for qualify- ing staff, and added new team members. These actions have allowed us to provide a greater number of programs for writers on a year-round basis. We will continue to add programs by working closely with in- structors, our community, and the board to determine the best way to make programs affordable, offer scholarship opportunities, continue to improve our accessibility overall, and keep the programs sustainable for the long term.

Ruling year info

1991

Executive Director

Mrs. Marnee Chua

Main address

P.O. Box 31264

Seattle, WA 98103 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

91-1352168

NTEE code info

Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Services N.E.C. (A99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2017 and 2016.
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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Clarion West is a nonprofit literary organization and is committed to equal opportunity. Although there are fine science fiction and fantasy writers of all ethnicities, races, and genders, historically the field has reflected the same prejudices found in the culture around it, leading to proportionately fewer successful writers of color and women writers than white male writers.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Six Week Writers Workshop

Clarion West provides writing workshops for speculative fiction writers in the form of a six-week intensive residential workshop and year-round one-day workshops. In addition, we host public events that bring writers and readers together.

The Clarion West six-week residential workshop is a transformative fiction writing workshop. Applicants must apply to attend the six-week workshop, based in Seattle. Eighteen participants are selected from all over the world. Participants live on site and work on their writing skills throughout the program.

Throughout the year Clarion West hosts additional one-day workshops and other events for writers.

The program focus is to help diverse writers at the beginning of their career to develop their voice and acquire skills for success.

Population(s) Served

Clarion West is holding a slate of online classes and workshops for writers year-round. These include everything from short lessons on craft to extensive peer critique workshops under the guidance of some of speculative fictions most prominent writers.

In 2020, Clarion West held 112 online classes and workshops for 1,500 unique participants, including 79 youth between 14-18. Participants are from across the United States and across the world. A sample of the types of classes offered and our instructors can be found on our online class page here: https://www.clarionwest.org/workshops/online-workshops/

Population(s) Served

Clarion West now holds summer and year-round free public events to bring writers and readers together. Each event focuses on a diverse selection of writers, craft, and the in-depth discussions around where science, history, and society all meet in speculative fiction. All our readings and events were held free and are located in Seattle or live streamed via YouTube. Our streaming videos are available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1L6XTsKu3H3LYJAxK4LS5A.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Adults
Women
Heterosexuals
LGBTQ people
Men
Adults
Women
Heterosexuals
LGBTQ people
Men

Where we work

Awards

Special Award for Community Building and Inclusivity 2018

Locus Awards

Nominated for The Ember Award for unsung contributions to the genre 2020

FIYAHCON

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average dollar price for classes

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Online Classes and Workshops

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Significant variation of classes offered after 2020, when Clarion West began to offer online classes and workshops year-round.

Number of free registrants to classes

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Online Classes and Workshops

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Clarion West has been growing our free programs, including offering free business classes for writers online. In addition, Clarion West reserves 20% of every class for free space for BIPOC writers.

Total number of audience members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Outreach

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Since 2020, Clarion West has provided between 6-12 online panels and readings as well as other online events for the public. These continue to be available on our YouTube channel.

Total number of classes offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Online Classes and Workshops

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Clarion West continues to revise and improve our year-round offerings, increasing the breadth and scope of programs available to writers from all over the world.

Number of competition winners declared

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Six Week Writers Workshop

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Clarion West tracks awards and recognition of all Six-Week Workshop alumni after they have completed the workshop. With over 600 alumni, each year there are many winning awards in the field.

Number of different periodicals published

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Six Week Writers Workshop

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Clarion West tracks Six-Week Alumni story publications each year, including novels, short stories, comics, poetry, essays, and other forms of story publication.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Within the limitations of the workshop, Clarion West is dedicated to improving the proportion of diverse voices in the literary world of speculative fiction as well as provide access to diverse writers from all over the world to the general public.

To quote a student: "Diversity is exploding in speculative fiction right now, and the field—and the world—is so much the richer for it. The wider the breadth of stories available to us as readers, the wider the breadth of our imaginations. The more cultures and experiences we can understand, the more people in this world we can identify with." - Margaret Killjoy, Class of 2015

We offer instruction throughout the year, and our workshops and classes vary in intensity, topic, and number of sessions. We invite prominent authors from across a broad range of speculative fiction to teach our classes and workshops. A few of our most recent instructors include Curtis Chen, Eileen Gunn, Elizabeth Hand, Cadwell Turnbull, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cory Doctorow, Nicola Griffith, Cat Rambo, Karen Joy Fowler, Nancy Kress, Kij Johnson, and Nisi Shawl.

Accessibility: Clarion West is committed to making our spaces and events more accessible to all. We are making adjustments to limit the barriers affecting people with disabilities and will continue to address needs on an ongoing basis. More information about how we do this is published on our website.

At Clarion West, we realize that the cost of classes and workshops, travel, and time away can be a barrier to attending our programs. To reduce some of these barriers, we are committed to providing scholarships covering full and partial tuition to our residential workshops; discounts to reduce the cost of online classes; free events and programs for our community; and free seats in online classes for BIPOC writers.

The Clarion West Writers Workshop was founded on the belief that writers from diverse backgrounds need an opportunity to be heard — and to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Clarion West has historically been successful in reaching women writers and LGBTQIA+ writers and many of our graduates are actively publishing in the field.

With more than 600 graduates from the Six-Week Workshop, Clarion West has played a significant role in shaping the careers of speculative fiction writers, and our work continues. As we explore our own efforts at equity and inclusion, we see an ongoing disparity in both the writers we serve and in the greater community of published writers in speculative fiction who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), who are from non-English speaking countries, and who are disabled writers. As such, we are now seeking to do better at following our mission to help new and emerging voices in speculative fiction through an examination of our workshop techniques, workshop and organizational culture, community programs, and internal processes.

As a result of feedback and community forums with our alumni, Clarion West is in the process of making lasting structural changes that promote a Six-Week Workshop culture distinctive to Clarion West’s mission of equity, empowerment, and innovation — by providing a safe space for participants to explore concepts of race, class, nationality, disability, neurodivergence, gender, and sexual orientation within and beyond the genre of speculative fiction. We hope to expand the focus of this process to every program presented by Clarion West over the next few years.

Clarion West has been providing workshops for over 30 years and has fine tuned our approach to creating the best community, staffing, and venue available to ensure success. We recruit alumni for our board of directors and often for our instructors - all who know the process and importance of our workshops.

Furthermore: At the end of 2019, the Clarion West Board of Directors launched a growth initiative with the following primary goals:
• Increase programming and opportunities for emerging writers;
• Increase organizational capacity to partner with accessible housing facilities;
• Provide sustainable income and benefits for staff.

As a result of this initiative, Clarion West has increased staff hours, provided health reimbursement benefits for qualify- ing staff, and added new team members. These actions have allowed us to provide
a greater number of programs for writers on a year-round basis. We will continue to add programs by working closely with in- structors, our community, and the board to determine the best way to make programs affordable, offer scholarship opportunities, continue to improve our accessibility overall, and keep the programs sustainable for the long term.

Although we had to postpone the Six-Week Workshop in 2020, the organization was able to add staff and pivot
to provide hundreds of online classes and programs — many of them offered for free or at a reduced cost — to more than 1,000 writers in the Puget Sound region and around the world. Our team continues to revise and manage an ongoing suite of classes and workshops online, with plans to provide in-person options again as soon as the conditions around the COVID-19 pandemic make it feasible.

The organization’s focus on sustainable programming, increased staff time and benefits, and accessibility are reflected in the significant changes you see in our budget between 2019 and 2021. The opportunity provided to Clarion West by the generous bequest of Vonda N. McIntyre has meant that we are able to manage growth through this period of significant uncertainty.

Clarion West incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1986, with workshop alumni and other interested members of the science fiction community forming its first Board of Directors. With the help of many dedicated volunteers and a core of committed professional staff, Clarion West has produced some of science fiction and fantasy's top writers and editors. Graduates have received every major form of recognition in the field, including the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards.

In 2021, Clarion West took a deep dive into reviewing workshop methods and learning about updates being made across the field of creative writ- ing and arts programs for workshop- ping in groups. We found a consultant, Rachelle Cruz, and brought together a committee to review our practices and bring them up to date, paying special attention to the workshop environment and who felt safest in it.

The first phase of the Workshop Culture project ended in February after Cruz and the workshop staff reviewed the alumni survey and focus group results and reported these to the board and workshop culture committee.

The results indicate that participant experience and satisfaction in the Six-Week Workshop varied widely by race, as well as across other marginalized demographics. In order to address these concerns, Clarion West’s newly formed work- shop culture committee — a group of alumni and former instructors, all with writing, publishing, and teaching experience — assisted in reviewing workshop options and recommendations from Cruz and others on updating the writing workshop for today’s students. In April and May, Clarion West ran a series of experiential workshops testing several different workshop methods.

The committee met a final time in May to conclude the second phase, reflect on the experience, and offer final thoughts on the project. Members were also called upon to help update workshopping guidelines sent to the Six-Week Workshop students in 2021. In preparation for the workshop, first- week instructor and alumnus Andy Duncan drafted "Help Build! Or, Talking about Work in Progress." This document helps participants get started with a more inclusive critique format. Our team will continue to revise and update our methods over the next year and will review workshopping methods and accessibility for marginalized writers on an ongoing basis. Our number one takeaway is that we need to be better prepared, as an organization, to assist our instructors and the class in creating the workshop culture they want and to facilitate workshopping that is open to exploring non-Western stories and new voices.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Clarion West works with writers from all backgrounds and across the United States and the world. We work with over 1500 writers and are increasing our efforts to ensure that writers from historically underrepresented communities are part of our programs. We are doing this by offering free classes to writers from BIPOC backgrounds and ensuring there is financial aid for students who need it. We also work very hard to ensure that our instructors are highly representative of the communities we serve, including LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and writers with disabilities. Our audience is primarily 18 and over, however we have recently added programs for teens ages 14-18.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Since the fall of 2020, Clarion West has begun the process of exploring where our assumptions about key components of the workshop, including critiquing methods and social interactions, have limited the experiences of writers from a broad range of underrepresented communities. Through community surveys, interviews, and focus groups, we have found that a serious examination of traditional peer critique methods has been happening in the broader writing and workshopping field. As a result of this self reflection, Clarion West recognizes that changes need to be made within the workshop model toward equity, empowerment, and innovation. Clarion West has created a committee of advisors to continue to review and make recommendations for changes to our class and workshop models.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We are using community feedback to change the way we provide and review our programs. This has created a huge opportunity for our organization to grow and offer more programs for writers from underrepresented and historically marginalized backgrounds. Our board, staff, and community are all committed to continuously reviewing our methods and making the changes necessary.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Clarion West
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Clarion West

Board of directors
as of 4/29/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Tod McCoy

Hydra House Books

Term: 2020 - 2022


Board co-chair

Misha Stone

Seattle Public Library

Term: 2022 - 2024

Susan Gossman

Vicki Saunders

Nisi Shawl

Yang-Yang Wang

Misha Stone

Seattle Library

Shweta Adhyam

Linda Breneman

M. Huw Evans

Gordon White

Zola Mumford

Jon Lasser

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/27/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/27/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.