(Mercer Island, WA) Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) kicked off 2018 with new leadership, new strategies, and a study session with Mercer Island City leadership.

MICA board and staff have been working hard reviewing the strategy to create an arts center and determine what is needed for future success. In mid-2017, the MICA Board of Directors appointed a Task Force to find solutions to issues that plagued the project. After careful examination, a study of neighboring art centers, and discussions with dozens of stakeholders, the Task Force came to a consensus on a path forward.

One of the key recommendations was to expand the board by adding new leadership and an Emeritus Board, extending our outreach, diversity and new ideas. A majority of founding board members have moved to the Emeritus Board and to date, MICA has added five new board members: Elliot Newman, Michelle Peyree, James Rudolf, Xixi Shakes, and Iantha Sidell to join continuing members, Adam Goldblatt, John Gordon Hill, Virl Hill, Bruce Lorig, Prady Misra and Genevieve Morton.  John Gordon Hill, the visionary of the MICA project, passed the baton to new board chairs Genevieve Morton and Prady Misra.  “As founding Board Chair and President, I am thrilled with the exceptional new talent and energy…I’ve had the pleasure of working with Prady and Genevieve for years…having them assume the role of co-chairs of the board is a dream come true. My personal commitment to MICA is unwavering and the addition of these remarkable new people to our existing staff, board, and supporters puts us in the strongest position yet,” says Mr. Hill.

Along with the expanded board, new leadership includes Paul Shoemaker as Executive Director. Mr. Shoemaker, a 22-year Islander and a recognized expert in the nonprofit sector, first came onboard with MICA as a member of the Task Force, “Being a part of the MICA team is a very exciting challenge and represents a real opportunity for me to give back to MI in a way I haven’t been able to before,” Mr. Shoemaker said.

On Tuesday, February 6th, MICA took part in a study session with the Mercer Island City Council. MICA presented information to the council regarding the current status of the project, goals for 2018, and discussed next steps on how to move forward with the City. A few of these goals include a broader community engagement process that builds on past work, a stronger relationship with the City of Mercer Island, and an openness to explore alternative sites and locations for MICA in collaboration with the City and the community.

The arts have many benefits: they are fundamental to our humanity; improve academic performance; essential to the health and vitality of neighborhoods; good for local business; create a more civil and cooperative community; and bring the community together to connect with neighbors of all ages, cultures, and experiences.

The timing is good for a renewed effort with MICA. Mercer Islanders will benefit from the enhanced quality of life that an arts center will bring to our community.

For more information on Mercer Island Center for the Arts please see www.mercerislandarts.org.  Visit the MICA staff at 7710 SE 29th St. | call 206-715-7671 | email info@mercerislandarts.org.

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