Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) is pleased to announce a major milestone in its plan to build an arts center on Mercer Island. The City of Mercer Island has issued a mitigated determination of non-significance (MDNS) for MICA’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) application. Furthermore, the city has opted to phase this determination into various parts as they review the zoning code text amendment, agreement to lease, and other land use actions. SEPA is the review process designed to provide a comprehensive review of a building proposal and requires the identification and evaluation of possible environmental impacts to all elements of the proposed development and construction. By issuing an MDNS, the City of Mercer Island has affirmed that MICA has demonstrated the ability to mitigate any potential environmental impact during the development and construction of the facility as currently designed. This process required months of collaboration between the City staff and MICA, during which MICA consulted with numerous environmental experts and responded to community feedback. This positive determination is a significant accomplishment to celebrate for the arts center project.
The lengthy SEPA process was led by MICA board member, Bruce Lorig. Lorig, a longtime island resident and founder of Lorig Associates has over 40 years of real estate development experience. Lorig says “it’s been a long journey for the building team with ups and downs. We stayed transparent throughout and true to the public process.” MICA would also like to thank the city staff leads: Robin Proebsting, Evan Maxim, and Scott Greenberg for their professionalism and commitment to the best interests of the island. Lastly, we would like to thank and invite all Mercer Islanders for their continued support.
Though this is a huge milestone, a significant amount of work remains ahead to secure zoning, permits and other approvals necessary to move the project forward. While this may be frustrating for the island and our supporters, MICA’s passion and commitment to the project remains unwavering. With the City Council election right around the corner, we encourage all supporters of an arts center to make your voice heard. Ask all council members and candidates about their stance on MICA and let them know yours. This email directs to all Council Members Council@mercergov.org. Once a lease has been signed, the project can move forward with permitting and a larger capital campaign. To review the SEPA application and read the city’s press release regarding the determination please visit www.mercergov.org/mica. MICA invites the public to inquire about the project, give input, and support the arts center. Our doors are always open.
Mercer Island Center for the Arts is a nonprofit community venture led by a board of directors of 17 Mercer Island residents, working closely with the city, partner arts organizations, and individual community members to create the future Center for the Arts on Mercer Island. MICA has created several resources to provide detailed information and updates on the conception and planning for the Center for the Arts. Answers to frequently asked questions are located at MercerIslandArts.org/FAQ. Questions can also be emailed to askMICA@MercerIslandArts.org or visit the MICA office at 7710 SE 29th St.
Don’t forget to visit the MICA Arts Calendar to receive up-to-date information about arts events happening on the island http://calendar.mercerislandarts.org/.
When you join us for some of the many summer arts activities at Mercerdale Park, you may notice that the sign indicating where Mercer Island Center for the Arts will be built has come down. The MICA Board of Directors decided to remove the site determination sign after learning that opponents applied to the City to put up a large anti-MICA sign next to our sign on the designated site at the abandoned recycling center. We think it is inappropriate that our parks become a battlefield of competing signs. When the MICA sign was put up nearly three years ago, it was a purely informational sign for the public.
Because the MICA volunteers and supporters are committed to the enhancement and beauty of Mercerdale Park, we would rather remove our sign than clutter and diminish the park with a competing sign from a political action committee. Though we encourage all forms of civil debate and discussion, we felt that competing signs upped the level of negative discourse regarding this issue. The MICA sign has done its job: educating the public of the existence of MICA and where it will be built.
MICA is still full steam ahead and the current project status is that we are awaiting a determination from the city on the SEPA review. We welcome all to stop by the office or call/email with questions. MICA staff and board members enjoy connecting with the public and listening to input and sharing information.
The community benefits of an arts center on Mercer Island are numerous and we’re spending the summer listening to what Islanders specifically value and qualities you prioritize.
MICA is building for the future. We look forward to your partnership in enhancing our community together.
Mercer Island Center for the Arts Board of Directors
Between the dates, July 17 - August 24 Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) will work to expand our Friends of MICA as well as support our parter Resident User organizations.
MICA will engage in six small fundraising challenge match campaigns beginning July 17 to build the Friends of MICA giving. Each campaign will run one-week and feature one of the MICA Master Artists e.g., YTN, Russian Chamber Music Foundation, Music Works NW, Island Youth Ballet, & MIVAL. For each week-long campaign, one generous donor will match all Friends donations 1-to-1 up to $1000. 100% of the match will go to that week's featured organization. For example, during the week of July 31st MICA features YTN and if we obtain a total of $500 for Friends of MICA, the donor will donate $500 to YTN; if we receive $1000 worth of Friends of MICA, then the donor will donate $1000 to YTN. Essentially doubling the dollar amount of Friends of MICA that week.
We are grateful and thrilled for the wonderful donors that have agreed to take part in this matching campaign. Below are the dates and names of the generous donors. If you know who they are, give them a big thank you when you see them.
July 17 - 23 | Island Youth Ballet | Rick and Jenny McPherson
July 24 - 30 | Music Works Northwest | Bruce and Andy Lorig
July 31 - Aug. 6 | Youth Theatre Northwest | TBA
Aug. 14 - 20 | Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle | Trenton and Genevieve Morton
Aug. 21 - 27 | Mercer Island Visual Arts League (education programs) | Nancy and Virl Hill
Please sign up to become a Friend of MICA and support the Arts on Mercer Island.
If you are already a Friend of MICA, get your friends to become a Friend of MICA. Just ask them, say something like "Hey Beth, I support MICA and the arts on Mercer Island and I know you do too, would you consider becoming a Friend of MICA? If you become a Friend in the next few weeks, your gift will double and support the arts on the island"
That's all it takes.
Don't forget about the MICA Happy Hours from 5-6:00 pm at the MICA Offices 7710 SE 29th St. (before Mostly Music in the Park) where you can meet with other Friends of MICA, as well as that week's, featured Mercer Island Master Artists' patrons.
July 20 | Island Youth Ballet
July 27 | Music Works NW
Aug. 3 | Youth Theater NW
Aug. 17 | Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle
Aug. 24 | MIVAL
Thank you for being a Friend of MICA. Your support is very much appreciated. We look forward to seeing you throughout the summer.
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.
Imagine: You open the doors to the Mercer Island Center for the Arts, what will you see and hear? A group of nine and ten-year-olds learning the words to "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music; A watercolor art class meets to work on paintings for an upcoming show; while the sounds of the Russian Chamber Music Foundation waft down the hall.
Mercer Island Center for the Arts is excited to announce the release of our Annual Report 2016 to every household in the Mercer Island community. "Together we are bringing to life a Center for the Arts that embodies the creativity, inspiration, and imagination of the Mercer Island Community and is a symbol of our partnership,” said Prady Misra, Campaign Chair. This report focuses on how art connects our community and positively impacts the lives of all Islanders. From All Island Band Night, summer's Mostly Music in the Park, Shakespeare in the Park, and our thriving Farmers Market — the arts are abundant on Mercer Island.
The Arts Connect Us – with art, with ideas, with each other.
The 2016 Annual Report begins with a heartfelt letter by President John Gordon Hill – a stalwart of the project. He paints the vision of a dynamic arts center where artists will build their knowledge and share their inspiration; a place where children will learn and students will grow, where locals and visitors alike can take in an art show, listen to panel discussions, participate in workshops, or learn to dance. Mercer Island School District artist-in-residence Sandy Glass states "The Mercer Island Center for the Arts will be a dynamic destination where artists can share and create. A hub that brings arts and education together on our Island is positive and community building.”
Upon further reading, you will discover MICA's participation throughout community events, key details on building the arts center, steps MICA has taken to begin the campaign, and partner organizations MICA regularly supports. To highlight local organizations and their events on the island, MICA’s Arts Calendar was conceived to aggregate island arts events. If you’re looking for a local arts event, or if you would like to submit an event, please visit www.mercerislandarts.org/calendar.
2016 was the beginning of the Friends of MICA program; a way for people to support and get involved with the Center for the Arts immediately. The program garnered enthusiastic support from Islanders If you aren’t one yet, everyone is invited to become a Friend: businesses, individuals, and other non-profits. Visit the MICA website at www.mercerislandarts.org/friends or call 206-715-7671.
Much of 2016's expenditures were related to permitting and regulatory preparations (SEPA) necessary to build the center. MICA anticipated securing the lease by spring of 2016, thereby beginning the campaign in 2017. Due to the lengthy and complex nature of the regulatory process, MICA delayed the commencement of the capital campaign.
The Annual Report 2016 concludes with a look to the future with the newly formed Students of MICA, led by a group of talented Mercer Island High Schoolers. Look for them this summer at the many Island arts events MICA will be supporting.
Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) completed and submitted the “Responses to Citizens’ Questions to the SEPA Checklist Submission” to fulfill the third step of the mandatory State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) on Wednesday, January 18. SEPA reviews are part of the process for the City to approve new development projects, specifically focused on possible environmental impact. The City of Mercer Island received 26 letters and emails from community members responding to MICA’s SEPA submission.
The proposed arts center would be located in the northwest corner of Mercerdale Park, near the intersection of 77th Avenue SE and SE 32nd Street, on the site of the abandoned recycling center. The site includes a concrete plaza and flagpole (Bicentennial Park), the recycle storage building, public bathrooms, sinks and storage for the Farmers Market, asphalt paving, and an unmaintained wooded area in poor health.
MICA’s SEPA submission includes, among many other things, a traffic impact analysis; identification of adequate parking to meet city code; wetland delineation, geotechnical reports; slope stability review; and tree assessment.
“MICA compiled its SEPA submission working with independent experts in areas including parking, environmental studies, and transportation,” said Bruce Lorig, MICA Board member and chairman of its Building Committee. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the City and City Council to complete the SEPA review and move to the next step in bringing the MICA facility to life for our community.”
MICA is committed to environmental stewardship. Its site design includes enhancements to the environmental value of the portion of the site not used for the building and plazas - areas now seriously degraded and partially paved. The building will be designed to LEED Silver standards. Proposed green measures include water efficient landscaping, use of native plants, wetland restoration, and energy efficient mechanical systems and commissioning. MICA’s cultural activities will bring the community to Mercerdale Park to enjoy the arts in a natural setting, encouraging park use and appreciation.
Mercer Island Center for the Arts is a Washington State nonprofit corporation and registered 501(c)3 organization formed to promote arts performance, exhibition and education on Mercer Island. For more information, please visit www.mercerislandarts.org/faq or visit the MICA office at 7710 SE 29th Street, Mercer Island.
Mercer Island Center for the Arts thanks the voters of Mercer Island for thoughtfully evaluating the parks petition and for concluding that our parks are for everyone. Islanders sent a clear message that our community will benefit from opportunities for the arts and parks to work together and enhance overall experience.
Over the past three years, MICA has made great progress in our building design, strategic plan and operational plan. We continue to focus on completing the required and currently in progress SEPA review including a viable solution for parking so we can finalize the lease with the City and kick start our capital campaign in earnest.
Ongoing community feedback is very important to us and MICA will have booths at future Farmers Markets, Mostly Music in the Park concerts, and at Summer Celebration to update Islanders on progress and to answer any questions from the community. Islanders can also find information on our website at www.mercerislandarts.org/faq, by stopping by our downtown office or by emailing email@example.com.
New Friends of MICA Program Empowers Community Involvement and Support
Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) today released its Annual Report 2015 "A Sense of Place", the first annual report for the non-profit organization, to every household in the Mercer Island community. The Annual Report 2015 highlights the work of the founding Board of Directors, professional partners, MICA resident users, and many individuals and organizations in the community who have labored to create an organizational structure that will support the creation and building of a center for the arts on Mercer Island.
Art Brings Us Together is the central theme. MICA will provide a focal point for creating and experiencing art in all its forms, benefiting all from preschoolers to seniors. It will also redefine the town center, focusing and nourishing the social and economic life on the Island. MICA’s mission lives in the union of the arts, community, and education.
“A remarkable group of your fellow citizens have volunteered their time and money to create a beautiful new home for theater, music, dance, and the visual arts on the Island,” said President / Board Chair, John Gordon Hill in his Message from the President. The Annual Report 2015 introduces the MICA Board of Directors, 15 community volunteers who represent significant professional experience and community service in finance, legal, construction, fundraising, and nonprofit and arts management. MICA’s resident users are also introduced: Youth Theatre Northwest, Children’s Dance Conservatory / Island Youth Ballet, Musical Mind Studio, Music Works Northwest, Russian Chamber Music Foundation, and Mercer Island Visual Arts League (MIVAL).
Revenue raised by December 31, 2015 is just over $5 million at $5,006,945 and expenditures as of December 31, 2015 are $934,839. “Over the first two years of MICA’s existence, a majority of our disbursements have been related to the study, planning, and design of the arts facility with emphases on the resident artists and long term operational stability,” states Board of Directors officers Peter Hutt, Treasurer, and Dirk van der Burch, Comptroller. “Disbursements were covered by early donations leaving a comfortable level of liquidity for the organization as we enter 2016.”
MICA also debuts Friends of MICA in the Annual Report 2015. Friends of MICA is a new program enabling anyone to immediately support and get involved in the Center for the Arts. Individuals, businesses, and nonprofit groups are invited to join the founding group of Friends of MICA. All Friends of MICA will be invited to an annual meeting and an annual Friends appreciation event, and will receive a monthly e-newsletter with program and event information and project updates.
MICA’s Annual Report 2015 also highlights general information and facts on the central issues to the project including: economic impact, location, facility, and sustainable operating model. MICA has created several resources to provide detailed information and updates on the conception and planning for the Center for the Arts. Readers can obtain information on frequently asked questions by visiting MercerIslandArts.org/FAQ or by visiting the MICA office at 7710 SE 29th St. Questions can also be emailed to askMICA@MercerIslandArts.org.
Focus on Education and Performances Creates Diversified Revenues
Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) released preliminary operating plan projections today. The three-year plan projects steady state annual operating revenue of $543,000, contributed revenue (fundraising) of $323,000 and expenses of $866,000.
MICA researched, developed and refined its operating plan from April 2014 to December 2015 in consultation with AMS Planning & Research, a global arts and entertainment industry consulting firm with over 25 years’ experience working with hundreds of arts organizations. AMS’ clients have included Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, the Sydney Opera House and the Seattle Symphony as well as numerous community performing arts centers nationwide.
“The MICA operating pro forma is based on detailed research in the local arts and cultural sector, data from our nationwide performing arts benchmarking program PACStatssm and extensive conversations with MICA leadership and local user groups,” said Katie Oman, Director of AMS. “It is informed by industry best practices including conservative attendance estimates and an annual contribution to a 30-year building maintenance reserve fund. Based on the projected activity and normal industry operations, the contributed income level falls well within the expected range for community arts venues, as well as the expected parameters of a vital and productive operation.”
Plan highlights include:
Robust usage of 241 total use days (rehearsals, performances and rentals) per performance space
Over 2,400 class sessions in the studios, theatre lab and classrooms
Over 1,500 classes/lessons in four practice rooms
Diversified revenue: 47% from performance space and rehearsal rentals; 40% from classes and 13% from ticketing.
Future MICA user groups consulted for the plan include Youth Theatre Northwest, Children’s Dance Conservatory/Island Youth Ballet, Mercer Island Visual Arts League, Music Works Northwest, Musical Mind Studio and Russian Chamber Music Foundation. Projected support for usage by the Farmers Market and the City were also included.
For conservatism, the model does not include any income from the planned café or from any programs produced by MICA directly on an “at-risk” basis.
“Multiple organizations based in MICA will offer a wide variety of arts performances, events and classes for community members of all ages. This will diversify our revenue streams and reduce risk relative to other centers nationwide which rely on the success of one organization or are limited to a single-use facility,” said Peter Hutt, MICA Treasurer. “Most importantly, arts education is integral to our mission and improves the financial results, with 40% of revenues coming from classes.”
Click here for the full opinion letter from AMS summarizing the operating plan is posted on MICA’s website.
For more information about MICA and additional information on the projected finances of the Arts Center facility, visit MercerIslandArts.org/faq.
Year-long Study Results in New Design
The Mercer Island Center for the Arts, (MICA), released an updated building design today. The revised design is the outcome from a year-long study of the proposed MICA site, resulting in an updated design that retains all existing programs while avoiding a small wetland nearby. As in the original design, it does not intrude on the walking path that surrounds the Mercerdale lawn.
MICA has worked over the past year with multiple expert consultants, City of Mercer Island staff, and other governmental agencies to look at the multiple factors for use of the proposed site. Bruce Lorig, chair of the MICA building committee and a developer with over 40 years of experience, explained: “This is the normal process whenever you do a large development project. The site must be examined for multiple factors in a methodical, organized, sequential fashion and plans developed to accommodate the site conditions.”
MICA commissioned a number of necessary professionals, including a geotechnical engineer, land surveyor, wetlands biologist, structural engineer, environmental consultant, landscape architect, general contractor and others, to investigate the site conditions and advise MICA. The area around the abandoned recycling center and the adjacent northwest hillside is generally known to be a wet location. The Watershed Company, a well respected and experienced wetlands consulting firm, inspected the proposed building site and then delivered their report to MICA in May 2015. They identified a small finger of Category III wetland, meaning it is of relatively low hydrological and ecological significance, on the site. Watershed’s analysis found that the small finger connected with a larger, two-acre, off-site wetland to the south. Arguably, Mercer Island's existing wetlands regulations prohibit mitigating wetlands more than two acres in size.
MICA considered all possible ways to address the wetland after consulting with independent legal counsel and several developers. In Fall 2015, MICA’s Board directed its design team to revise the initial design in accordance with the information presented by its consultants, including locating the building footprint entirely outside of the wetland, wetland buffer, and the perimeter walking path around the Mercerdale lawn. This new plan still fulfills the programmatic needs of the MICA users and the Mercer Island community. “We all care about our environment and want this exciting facility to enhance Mercerdale Park,” said John Gordon Hill, MICA’s President. “We are very pleased to have updated MICA’s design to leave this area untouched without measurably impacting the needs of MICA artists or the patron experience.”
Click here to view the new design and a comparison to the prior footprint.