Artists Up and Mentorly: A Streamlined Mentorship Program for Artists


In an effort aimed at empowering artists, Mentorly and Artists Up joined forces to provide invaluable guidance and support. Mentorly acted as the technology backbone of this project. As the pandemic imposed unprecedented challenges on the artistic community, Artists Up’s pioneering online programming emerged as a beacon of success, inspiring other arts organizations statewide to follow suit. Recognizing the transformative impact of accessible mentorship, Artists Up are leading the charge in improving coaching programs for artists, setting a new standard for the industry.

Artists Up: Who Are They?

A collaboration between 4Culture, The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and formerly ArtsWA (art agencies serving areas of Washington State), three art agencies serving areas across Washington State, whoo with resources and each other.

For the last 12 years, Artists Up has helped artists thrive economically and creatively. With a special focus on artists of color, those with disabilities, of low income, recent immigrants, and those living in the non-urban core, Artists Up’s programs provide support to meet specific needs and close these gaps affecting innovation.

History of Artists Up

Artists Up was established in 2012 because of one problem: very few artists from communities of color were applying for and getting funding. The very first session included a focus group of Latinx artists in various disciplines to determine their needs and hear out their concerns.

Soon, the mentorship program gained over 150 Asian and Pacific Islander, Black and African-American, and Native artists joining the conversation.

In 2018, Artists Up launched the coaching project designed to match established artists in Seattle with budding novices to provide mentorship and guidance.

In 2019, the program was reintroduced on Mentorly’s platform. Since then, Artists Up has continued to serve artists and provided them with the network and resources they need to succeed.


Challenges Faced by Artists Up and How Mentorly Helped

Artists Up’s coaching project showed impressive upon launch, but they soon realized a flaw in their setup.

The Challenge: Time-Consuming Manual Administrative Work

“The program was well received with 95% of participants saying they would recommend the program to another artist, but it was time-intensive to administer, and many artists noted it was hard to schedule and find spaces to meet with their mentor or mentee.” – Artists Up Team

Mentorly’s Impact

Mentorly was a knight in shining armor right when it was needed.

In 2019, Artists Up partnered with the platform to reimagine their coaching program as an online, state-wide initiative. Mentorly helped expand the program throughout Seattle and beyond, and fixed many logistical issues.


Mentors can set how many hours they are available, and artists can easily browse through a wide selection to choose one that resonates with them the most. Mentorly makes it easy to browse mentor profiles, schedule sessions, and meet on the platform.

Artists Up also customized their interface to make it very user-friendly for all artists. It is very straightforward and accessible, and support is easily available for those who need assistance.

“Participating artists have mostly found the platform easy to use, which facilitated scheduling, decreased the need for space-finding, and allowed broader connections between artists. Online mentorship has been an equalizer in terms of geographic and disability access to the program.” – Artists Up Team

Admin Work

Mentorly helped Artists Up automate a lot of data collection, simplifying evaluation for the staff, mentors, and mentees. This significantly decreased the administrative burden and gave the team more time to focus on high-priority tasks.

The Challenge: Scheduling and Space Issues

Manually setting up one-on-one coaching sessions was difficult without a platform to facilitate simple steps like checking availability and compatibility.

Mentorly’s Impact

Mentorly helped Artists Up schedule times and places to meet, which was especially critical during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Thanks to the virtual platform, Artists Up continued to be available to those in need of resources during the pandemic.

“Some other arts organizations in the state looked to Artists Up’s online programming as a model for how they could reach artists during pandemic lockdowns. The King County Cultural Resource working group used the Artists Up mentorship program as a template to connect artists with online pandemic assistance via Mentorly.” – Artists Up Team


Outstanding Results Achieved with Mentorly

Needless to say, without Mentorly, Artists Up wouldn’t have been able to continue its mentorship program past the 2018 pilot phase. All participating mentors reported seeing significant improvement or growth in their mentees as they worked with them throughout the program.

“Mentorly was the only platform Artists Up found that was specifically dedicated to mentorship and artists and had a unique ability to serve artists and creatives. This felt aligned with Artists Up’s mission and values.” – Casey Moser

Of the mentees who participated in 2022 and 2023, 92% said they found the program beneficial (the remaining 8% couldn’t complete the program for various reasons). Every mentee who completed the program said they would recommend it to other artists.

Mentees also reported tremendous growth in their professional network. Approximately 54% of mentees said they strengthened connections or made new ones in their field. From there, 42% indicated they had found new potential funding sources and strengthened their ability to apply for funding. 29% of participants said they sought financing or support from sources they had never previously applied to.

Artists Up mentors shared positive feedback as well. They reported seeing significant improvement or growth in the mentees they worked with throughout the program.

The program has created a pool of “first-gen” artists from marginalized groups who have expressed a hunger and longing for role models. It has helped them fill the gap and provided unmeasurable value to the art industry across Washington.


Wrapping Up

The collaboration between Mentorly and Artists Up has proven to be a fruitful one. Mentorly has reduced manual administrative work, streamlined logistics, and made mentorship more easily accessible.

“Beyond career skills built through their mentorship period, mentees were also able to learn from the lived experiences of more established artists. […] And Artists Up continues to hear about the value of mentorship to artists.” – Artists Up Team