About – Abbey Arts Presents, Seattle (Fremont Abbey Arts Center)

    Upper Fremont at 43rd
    On the #5 bus line and short walk to E line

    4272 Fremont Ave North
    Seattle, WA 98103

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    Our mission is to curate welcoming arts & cultural experiences where people of all ages and incomes can explore creativity, enjoy beauty, grow empathy and increase awareness.

    We aim for Abbey Arts produced events to be focused on the beauty of live music and the arts.  Music & arts events help people take time away from the busy distractions of daily life, put down their digital devices, and really engage in an experience.  We believe this can help us all grow more empathy and build awareness while connecting more with others in the community.

    Abbey Arts focuses especially on local music, visual art, spoken word, storytelling, and contemporary dance.  Formats include multi-arts collaborative performances like The Round, intimate close-up concerts, new dance performances with live music, community gatherings like The Moth storytelling event, our special Cathedrals series, dance classes, workshops and artistic life celebrations.

    Abbey Arts programs are non-religious and all are welcome. Please read our Respect Policy.

    • For more about our events style, past performers, and what to expect at a show, click here.
    • For Portland Abbey Arts (Karen Ward – original Fremont Abbey  co-founder in 2005), click here.
    • If interested in joining the “New Abbey Movement”, renovating an old building, or starting The Round in your town, visit www.LonelyBuildings.com.



    Please read our Respect Policy, Land Acknowledgement & Equity Policy.



    We are an independent non-religious nonprofit 501(c)3 providing creative events at unusual spaces around Seattle including our home venue, Fremont Abbey Arts Center.

    What began in 2005 as a small nonprofit producing one or two events a month has grown to now host 100’s of events a year in multiple venues across Seattle.


    [Abbey 10 Year Parties, 2015]

    In 2014 we expanded to curate music & culture events at Ballard Homestead and we present select events through our partnerships at St Mark’s Cathedral (and Bloedel Hall) on north Capitol Hill as well as University Heights Center Auditorium (UDistrict).

    We aim to create affordable, welcoming and inclusive experiences where people can learn & develop through education & performance in many different art mediums.

    Striving to be a community driven, volunteer powered organization, Abbey Arts events are a comfortable safe space where a wide
    variety of people from different income levels, skills, ethnicities & backgrounds can interact.


    BUILT IN 1914

    abbey history photo street towards vita

    Our home venue and offices are at the Fremont Abbey, a vibrant hub for creative community.

    A beautiful brick church building (originally St Paul’s Lutheran), the Abbey went from being vacant in the late 90’s to undergoing major renovations in 2006-2008.  The building renovations were funded in large part by Church of the Apostles (founded by Karen Ward) who took on the building in 2005 with the help of Episcopal & Lutheran groups.

    Karen Ward moved to Seattle from Chicago in the early 2000’s and her hard work developing The Living Room tea house across the street in 2003-05 set the stage for live music and arts to be held in the growing neighborhood of Upper Fremont.  Fremont has always been known as an arts neighborhood and hosts the famous Fremont Solstice Parade among many other fun features like The Troll.  She established the nonprofit paperwork and base vision that Abbey Arts would eventually blossom from.

    Her vision was to have a separate, independent and non-religious arts organization (Artwerks DBA Fremont Abbey Arts Center) curate the building and welcome the community into the space.  She recruited Nathan Marion (initially as a volunteer) who joined the startup phase as the first Executive Director of the nonprofit.  Many other community members and volunteers were involved in the early years of the Abbey including folks from Fremont Arts Council.

    Karen now works in Portland on similar arts & community projects.

    Church of the Apostles currently curates services on Sundays at the Abbey.

    Major renovations work included a full seismic upgrade, leveling the upper floor, new paint, and many other features.  Major work wrapped up in March of 2008 and was celebrated with a Grand Re-opening party.  Ongoing improvements continue each year, often powered by volunteer teams and local supporters.  Abbey Arts Co-Founder and Executive Director, Nathan Marion (LonelyBuildings.com), managed the renovation project 2006-2008 and activated the nonprofit arts organization in the early years with events like The Round and small concerts.

    The Abbey now hosts over 100+ events a year as well as many more activities.  Abbey Arts programs welcome over 40,000 attendees to numerous venues around Seattle.

    We continue to improve our home base building through the “Greening the Abbey” project which is funded by Church of the Apostles and select fundraiser events. This project aims to help make the community center more affordable and more efficient including energy savings like insulation, water use reduction, LED lighting, etc.

    MolissaSolo 1
    After (2009)

    FREMONTABBEY-BEFORE-abbey great hall 2006_MG_4922
    Before (2005)


    More about the Renovation Project:

    A broad base of support from many volunteers from the nearby community made it all possible along with major donations of materials and labor from Belfor, Hermanson, Gary Luke (painter), and other contractors. Approximately $50-80k value was added to the project via volunteer hours and in-kind product & service donations.  Architectural plans developed by Vandervort Architects with initial design work supervised by Karen Ward & Ryan Marsh.  The name Fremont Abbey was developed by Karen Ward (founding pastor of Church of the Apostles).

    Very special thanks goes to Church of the Apostles (COTA), the young progressive church with Lutheran & Episcopal roots who bought the building in 2005 and invited the Arts Center to manage the building and curate community activities Monday-Saturday. The Arts Center is a separate nonprofit entity and COTA only asks us to pay our share of the ongoing building expenses. Since we are fulfilling a portion of their mission to serve the community, they do not charge the Arts Center market rate rents.



    This unique new model of sharing a beautiful old building means you know your donations are going to support programs at the Arts Center and helping to grow our important community work (not to a corporate entity charging high rents for a space in such a busy part of Seattle).


    We provide a space for both instruction & performance opportunities in beautifully restored historic buildings and encourage 100’s of developing artists each year!  We are truly ALL ages, with youth age 0.5 to 80+ taking part, attending, and being inspired.

    We strive for collaboration and multi-arts events (like The Round), concerts, dance events, storytelling series like The Moth, community workshops, and more.

    Our unique location in the center of Seattle & low operation costs allows audiences to attend events & performances that are accessible for all ages, incomes, and skill levels.  The Fremont Abbey also fulfills the Fremont Neighborhood Plan’s directive to have a community Arts Center.

    We also provide space for local nonprofits and artist groups to create exciting new events and programs, not to mention lots of benefit auctions and events!




    is achieved in part through being community driven and volunteer powered with a small staff.  We also partner with existing non-profits & neighborhood teachers. In addition, we’ve renovated & re-purposed an old 1914 building to encompass a myriad of uses so our carbon footprint is very low. It’s an ongoing process, but we’ve built in various “green” elements as well with efficient furnaces, lighting, insulation, as well as green cleaning supplies, toilet paper, composting, etc. We even require events to reduce their waste and compost/recycle.

    See a list of local organizations we’ve supported & hosted at the Abbey here.

    Through our community membership program, we also allow the space to be used for weddings, receptions, and events which fund our staffing, supplies, rent and building costs. We work hard to set a good example for sustainability on the Environmental side as well by using natural handmade cleaning supplies, efficient heaters, insulation, composting, recycling, reduced waste, and more.


    is a program to help low income families and nonprofit workers be able to consistently experience arts events, concerts, and more.  We offer free tickets and scholarships through our wide nonprofit network.  Read more…




    your community Arts Center today!  Click to our DONATE page to make an ongoing monthly or one-time donation.


    are a critical part of our operation.  We hope you’ll join us!  This is a great way to get involved on many levels, whether helping with events & concerts or volunteering around the Abbey during the weekdays on projects, teaching classes, cleaning, maintenance, carpentry, design, admin, or even joining the Board of Directors.

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    The content performed at our events is prepared or accomplished by artists in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed are the artists’ own and do not reflect the views of Fremont Abbey Arts Center, its staff, volunteers, or other artists.