The 300-seat Main Stage will be home to Youth Theatre’s larger shows and the best of regional theater. Dance performances, large concerts, films, lectures, and public meetings will all have a spacious and elegant new venue.
Mercer Island Center for the Arts will be a cultural focal point on Mercer Island where Islanders and people from throughout the Puget Sound area gather to converse and create, to celebrate excellence in the lively arts, and to inspire generations of artists, audiences, and students through exceptional live performances, special events, exhibitions, and educational experiences.
MICA will be located on city-owned land adjacent to the northwest corner of Mercerdale Park. It will open out to the park, bringing year-round energy and activity and confirming Mercerdale as a focal point for the town center. MICA will provide facility support for the Farmers Market, the Summer Celebration, the Mostly Music in the Park series, and other community events and amenities.
The site will support ADA compliment parking for disabled and drop off. Street parking will be created by restriping 77th Avenue SE and SE 32nd Street. MICA is in close conversation with local businesses and others about shared after-hours parking.
For years, organizations like Youth Theatre Northwest and Childrens Dance Conservatory/Island Youth Ballet have enthralled large and enthusiastic audiences. A community that so values local talent deserves a dedicated venue for showcasing and learning the arts. At MICA, Islanders of all ages can spend time together. They will gather here for live performances, films, workshops, speaker series, literary events - and the conversations and idea-sharing they spark.
The benefits of Mercer Island Center for the Arts aren’t confined to our building but ripple out across the island. Businesses, restaurants and institutions like our popular farmers market are boosted by a thriving Arts Center. As traffic in the I-90 corridor becomes more challenging, the Center for the Arts will provide convenient on-island cultural opportunities that are easily-accessible for seniors and young families. The Center will provide real and measurable value to the community.
Our community prides itself on providing exemplary experiences. Mercer Island Center for the Arts is the wise and valuable next step in our cultural and education development.
Total campaign cost including design, permitting, construction and operating reserve will be approximately $25 million. To date, we have received $4.8 million in cash and pledges.
MICA will create a focal point for the arts on Mercer Island. It will help revitalize the business district, attracting audiences and patrons from both on and off the Island. It will become an essential cultural destination.
A beautiful gallery will host rotating art exhibits featuring work by Island and regional artists. Receptions, galas and gatherings will fill the space. It will also feature a café and bar.
These inviting venues will provide a great showcase for theater and dance performances, music recitals, artwork, and band and choir concerts for the young people of the Island. It will give them a safe and stimulating place to learn, grow, and be with their friends.
It will provide wonderful activities for seniors as a place for lecture series, demonstrations, readings, and film presentations.
MICA will host educational opportunities in theater, music, dance, and art with its classrooms, rehearsal rooms, and movement and art studios. It will be home to classes from Youth Theatre Northwest, Music Works Northwest, Musical Mind Studio, The Children’s Dance Conservatory, the Mercer Island Visual Arts League, Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle, and others.
by Jonathan Shakes - published in the May 31, 2017 edition of the Mercer Island Reporter
Biking around our Island recently, seeing children and adults practicing sports together and enjoying the spring weather in our public parks, I was reminded how lucky we are to have so many beautiful places to play. Our Island has about 60 acres of developed parkland, including 14 tennis courts, six ball fields, four softball diamonds, two outdoor basketball courts, an indoor basketball court, a volleyball court, a skate park and an artificial turf field. Additional fields and courts, including a first-class Boys and Girls Club facility, are on school district property. We can also hike or jog through 300 acres of open space without leaving the Island, including 119 acres in Pioneer Park and 20 acres on Mercerdale Hillside. I chose to raise my family on Mercer Island because here, I’m surrounded by green, countryside-like beauty — yet our Island also has many of the cultural and educational benefits of living in a larger city.
After I got home from my ride, my kids hit me with a question they’d been asking for weeks: when must their piano pieces be ready to perform? I couldn’t answer. Their teacher, a concert pianist who lives on the Island, had been searching for months to find a location for her students’ semi-annual recital, but she couldn’t find anyplace with a piano that can support the technique of her advanced students. Previous recitals have been in the empty storage areas of Eastside piano stores, but no such location was available this spring.
My daughter’s dance school doesn’t have great options for performance space, either. The Mercer Island High School Performing Arts Center can allot her school only one week each year, at a cost exceeding $800 per day. Imagine the outrage if our youth sports teams, which rent public fields for $18 or $35 an hour, were told that each team gets only one week on public fields each year, and that if teams need more field time, they must find private land.
Despite our Island’s generally excellent parks and recreation facilities, we have a surprising gap when it comes to staging a dance performance, performing music or putting on a show. We force our arts organizations to juggle, struggle, and squeeze into odd corners to carry out their community-service and educational missions.
I’m so grateful to the past generations of leaders on Mercer Island who set aside hundreds of acres of public land for the many group activities we enjoy today. Now it’s our generation’s turn to develop a small fraction of that land — less than one acre — for important cultural activities that have been neglected so far. After we build a theatre on that space, I look forward to watching a live show there, sitting next to all of my neighbors, at our Mercer Island Center for the Arts.
We need your help as a supporter of the arts and the community of Mercer Island.
MICA has received enthusiastic support or formal endorsement from over 20 Mercer Island organizations, including the Mercer Island Arts Council, Mercer Island Preschool Association, Musicworks Northwest, Mercer Island Visual Arts League, Mercer Island Farmers Market, Island Books, Aljoya, Island House, King County Library System, Musical Mind Studio, Island Choir Experience, Children’s Dance Conservatory, the Russian Chamber Music Foundation, and Youth Theatre Northwest.
Several out-of-town arts organizations like ACT Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Teatro ZinZanni have all expressed support to present performances at MICA.
Please consider becoming a Friend of MICA at this historic moment to help create the Mercer Island Center for the Arts.