Keith Imper: Thanks for sitting down with me Sharon. I know that everybody on the Island, and many off, are curious about what’s happening with MICA. But, let’s discuss this latest City Council meeting. What exactly happened at this meeting?
Sharon Perez: Well, first off it was a positive step forward for the future of arts on MI. But, to be brief, the council wants to move forward to build commuter parking on the location of the old Tully’s coffee shop. MICA requested that the council also consider a space for the arts on that Tully’s spot. Well, the council voted 5-0 to prioritize that space for the arts within this commuter parking project. That vote was comprised of Mayor Debbie Bertlin, Deputy Mayor Salim Nice, Tom Acker, Bruce Bassett, Dave Wisenteiner (council members Wendy Weiker and Benson Wong were not in attendance). The council said “it would be a lost opportunity to not include an arts center as an additional community benefit.”
Keith: What does the vote from the city council session on Tuesday mean for MICA?
Sharon: It means we have the support of the city council to explore a mixed-use partnership; they recognize the community benefit of a space for the arts and agree that it’s a unique opportunity to provide this benefit for the community.
Keith: What’s next?
Sharon: As we see it, next steps include: First, reach out to the council for their support of the arts. Second, join us at the MICA study session with the City on Monday Sept. 17th. We will be sharing a report of what we heard from the community listening that we did throughout the summer.
Keith: How will the Sept. 17th Study Session be different from the study session in February?
Sharon: The February session was an announcement of change; a change for MICA, a reboot for the organization, and to let the community know that we were going back to the drawing board to intently listen. In September’s study session we will be sharing the communities voice: what we heard, what the community said about what they want from arts and culture for the island. It’s really exciting there is so much positive momentum for an arts center right now. And, I would just like to say that if you’re an Islander reading this, please join us in thanking the MI City Council for supporting the arts on Mercer Island. (you can email the full council at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Keith: Thank you, Sharon. It sounds like exciting things are happening for MICA.
watch the City Council meeting here. The full 45-minute setup + discussion, starts at 59:30. If you want to see council members’ discussion and the motion, start at 1:24:00, ending at 1:46:00.
If you didn’t see the letter from the MICA Board of Directors to the City Council regarding their commitment to a space for the arts, click here.
*Interviewer Keith Imper is a former MICA employee, Arts Consultant, and Advocate for the Arts.