In the next few weeks, we will be interviewing many of our board members to assemble a brief, personal profile on each of the people behind MICA! Our third interview was with Xixi Shakes.

Xixi and husband Jonathan have been behind MICA since 2014, when they first heard about the exciting community effort to create Mercer Island’s own performing arts center. Since then Xixi has been involved with MICA in various ways, and in early 2018 she decided to join the board. 

Xixi was born and raised in Beijing, China. When she was a child, scholarship support enabled her to study flute from Xuequan Li, who was considered China’s top flute player. She joined the Beijing Youth Symphony, sang in choirs, and performed in student theater. She later met her husband Jonathan through their shared passion for the performing arts.  They moved to Mercer Island in 2002 to raise their two children, who are now teenagers and budding performing artists. Every year, their family attends a week-long performing arts family camp, “Camp Caz,” and together, Xixi and Jonathan spearheaded the expansion of that family camp from its original location in Sonoma California to its new, second location on Washington’s Key Peninsula, near YMCA Camp Seymour. 

After growing up in bustling Beijing, Xixi loved the tranquility and green space she found in Mercer Island, but she had to adjust to its sleepy, lights-off-after-6pm town center. The town center has changed since 2002, in both positive and negative ways, and Xixi believes the addition of a performing arts center will be a strong positive, providing vibrancy in a way that yet another apartment, office, or retail building cannot. It will elevate our community by giving us a place to gather around the arts, and provide substance to the community’s belief that we value the arts here. At a simpler level, it will address the current venue shortage that handicaps several of our community’s art organizations and groups.

Xixi urges her fellow Islanders to consider how MICA could benefit our community, and how our generation could leave a legacy through MICA for future residents to enjoy. She also encourages the many people who support MICA to share their voices.

This is an exciting time for MICA as an organization and for Xixi as a board member and a community member. She is thrilled to think that one day she can look at the MICA building and reminisce, “Hey, I was part of making that happen!” 

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