Happy last weeks of summer! It’s been a summer packed with activity for team MICA. We’ve continued to work with the City and MainStreet Properties to secure the site for our Art Center’s future home. We’ve also been working diligently with many community leaders and our expert consultants to update the business plan (pro forma) and the brand identity in preparation for the capital campaign for the Center. We are in a strong position to start the fall season with forward momentum.

We have a transition coming to our internal team, Sharon Perez, Director of Strategic Relationships, announced at the MICA Board Meeting last week, that her last day will be on September 30.

From Sharon:

“It has been my personal honor and privilege to work on such a meaningful project for the good of our community. The potential benefits of an active arts center to the quality of life on Mercer Island are enormous and from the first day that I learned about MICA, I wanted to be a part of making this a reality for all Islanders.

My role was originally projected to be a handful of hours each week to be “of counsel” for a finite fundraising campaign, but it turned into much more than that.

I’ve appreciated that this role has been an opportunity to do some of what I do best, like building community, connecting people, and strategizing cooperation between the private and public sectors; and now it is time for me to move into a new role where I can incorporate the whole spectrum of my interests, experience, and network.

While that’s taking shape, I won’t be involved with the current phase of MICA, but once the capital campaign starts, I hope to join the campaign effort and fulfill my dream to raise some big money to get our Arts Center built. I remain a dedicated advocate for MICA, our community, and all of the arts and artists on Mercer Island.”

In the year and a half I’ve worked with Sharon, time and time again she has been a true pro, the master connector, and a tireless proponent of MICA. She has given MICA her all for 4 years, what a great legacy and we are all deeply thankful. I will miss working with her and am thrilled she will be a part of our campaign committee when we get that launched in the months ahead. Thank you, Sharon, MICA wouldn’t still have the great opportunity it does without you.

Onward!
Paul Shoemaker
Executive Director
shoe@mercerislandarts.org

As part of our ongoing mission to support the arts and build a vibrant, interconnected community on Mercer Island, MICA is a proud title sponsor of the 33rd annual Mostly Music in the Park festival series. Beginning in 1986, MMIP has been a cultural fixture at Mercerdale Park each summer, and as always, the concert series features a slate of headlining musical acts. However, this year organizers have expanded the offerings with more than just tunes: get your hands dirty crafting your own visual artworks with MIVAL; test your skill at lawn games, and try your luck with weekly giveaways donated by New Seasons Market. Local food vendors, dance demonstrations, and family-friendly activities will also be on hand for each performance.

Concert organizers received over one hundred submissions from musical artists around the world and six were selected. Click on the names to see and hear each artist. Here’s a look at these talented musicians:

Duende Libre – July 11

The festival kicks off with Duende Libre, a local trio that uses jazz as a foundation to explore sounds from around the world. From African rhythms to Latin flavor, Duende Libre’s eclectic performance is sure to bring together lovers of music of all genres.

Donovan Keith – July 18

Austin, Texas-based Donovan Keith is polishing his dancing shoes to get ready for MMIP, so be prepared for a high-energy soul and pop performance that leaves you breathless. Donovan is known for his high-flying vocal ability, magnetic stage presence, and the snappiest three-piece suits you’re likely to see at this year’s festival.

Jessica Lynne – July 25

When you think of Denmark, you probably think of Lego, Vikings, and little butter cookies. How about country music? Well, it’s time to start. Country artist Jessica Lynne grew up in Haslev, Denmark and comes to us by way of Nashville and eventually Tacoma, bringing her rock- and gospel-influenced southern sound to our pacific northwest stage.

Joe Blue & the Roof Shakers – August 1

Get ready to dance until you drop with Joe Blue & the Roof Shakers, five energetic guys known for putting on a show you can really cut a rug to. From blues to classic rock covers and originals, Joe Blue is sure to have the island bouncing.

Mōtus – August 8

If 2019 has not been funky enough for you, we have just the prescription: take a dose of jazz, some R&B, a dash of neo-soul and blend them together with horns, drums, and multiple voices. In other words, you need Mōtus in your life. Don’t miss this unique blend of musical styles.

Filé Gumbo – August 15

If you miss Bourbon Street, dream of lobster étouffée, feel a kinship with Clifton Chenier, and think Paul Simon didn’t go far enough on Graceland, you need Filé Gumbo in your life. This incredible quintet brings their blend of cajun, zydeco, soul, R&B, and Dixieland jazz to the island for what promises to be a spicy final night of the festival.

All MMIP shows begin at 6:00 p.m. and admission is free for all ages. For more information, visit the website.

On March 26 and 27, 2019, more than 800 kids, parents, family members, and supporters turned out at Mercer Island High School for the annual Fine Arts Showcase. Thousands of artistic works were on display for two nights, with pieces and performances from students in every grade, plus interactive elements to engage guests in the creative process. Pottery, painting, sculpture, music, theater, jewelry making, and more demonstrated the depth of talent on the island. With such a large scale event that reaches so many people in so many different ways, it’s hard to deny the impact it has on and support it enjoys in the community.

MICA is an organization committed to enriching the community on Mercer Island. MICA believes in the power of the arts and its ability to transform lives. Shared experience and exploration of the arts will help unite Mercer Island, creating a more culturally connected and vital community.

MICA aspires to help build a community of positive, healthy, and active citizens and it is one of the main reasons we do the work we do at MICA. We all know that the intangibles of arts education can play an enormous role over the long term for both individuals and communities, which is why events like the Mercer Island School District Fine Arts Showcase are so important.

Recently, a study from the Brookings Institute and partly funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, shows a strong relationship between arts education and the development of upstanding community members. The study shows that arts students experience “a 3.6 percentage point reduction in disciplinary infractions, an improvement of 13 percent of a standard deviation in standardized writing scores (communication skills), and an increase of 8 percent of a standard deviation in their compassion for others.” Additional benefits include increased engagement at school, college aspirations, and the ability “to draw upon works of art as a means for empathizing with others.” These sorts of interpersonal skills are incredibly important in real life work and social situations.

For many of the student artists at March’s showcase, The Mercer Island Center for the Arts will be a place to learn throughout their lives, to be a part of a thriving community, to experience new ideas and express their own, and continue to exhibit their work. maybe go on to show their work too. As the MISD expands the minds of students, MICA’s goal is to carry that spirit into adulthood, ensuring the lasting and ongoing contributions of talented islanders.

And don’t just wait around for next year’s showcase; there are plenty of arts events happening on Mercer Island. Check out the arts calendar for new events every month.

 

In our second Community Visioning Report snapshot we look at the ‘Concerns’ that Islanders have for a new space for the arts. MICA has been a hot-button topic for years. Though there is overwhelming support for the project, we want to manage our neighbors concerns, head-on. We are proactively dealing with each as we look to the future. Some of these concerns will take some time to figure out as a new site becomes clear. But these issues are on the front of mind for both staff and board.

  • Location (park/no park) [Tully’s is number one]
  • Cost & sustainability (public/private funds)
  • Size & scope (too big/too small)
  • Parking & access (central/further located)
  • A clear purpose (why it exists and who it serves)
  • Competing facilities (in Seattle and other neighboring areas)
  • Political will (among city leaders, MICA leaders, and citizens)

If anything from the above list is one of your concerns, or maybe it’s not on the list, and you were not able to have your voice heard, please email Executive Director, Paul Shoemaker shoe@mercerislandarts.org. Even though the process of the Community Visioning has ended, we still want your thoughts.

The 2018 Community Visioning Dialogue was an important journey for MICA. We set out to rediscover the Island’s interest for a dedicated place for the arts. With the help of Phinney Bischoff and a dedicated board we asked questions to a broad cross-section of the MI community in a variety of different settings. Over the next week MICA will feature a few snapshots from the final 59-page report. We understand it’s a lot to read. This is the readers digest version.

One overarching theme we heard is the arts are important to the Mercer Island Community. Islanders engage with the arts regularly as observers, appreciators, and creators of art. In fact, nearly a third of all islanders, that we heard from, create art professionally or as a hobby.

Though there is an abundance of art on MI, we heard that many residents still leave Mercer Island to attend art events in Seattle and Bellevue. Residents feel the Mercer Island artistic community is siloed and fragmented. What people desire is a centralized location for the arts where organizations can share resources and collaborate. A few important numbers:

  • 69% of survey respondents want more opportunities to experience arts and culture on the island.
  • 72% agree that MI would benefit from having a centralized location for the arts.

“MICA would serve a great purpose if it helped pull together all the disparate art and culture on the island.”

In our next visioning report snapshot, we will share the concerns residents have. More soon.

On Sept 17th, MICA made a presentation about the future of arts and culture on MI to the City Council: where MICA is today and what we are doing to help build the future for our community. I was, once again, struck by the community’s support of this project. We were met by a full house of Islanders. And, I’m proud to say that we conveyed their voice as we heard throughout the summer during our Visioning Dialogue. That evening we also reiterated our intention to be a key part of the City’s proposed mixed-use development at the Tully’s site.

When I drove home that night, I thought to myself, how many folks don’t know MICA’s desire to be part of that mixed-use development? If you’re an MI Citizen that doesn’t closely follow MICA you may be wondering, how we got from the previous site and plan in 2016-17 to today?

I’d like to give you some background information and bring you up to speed. Here are the key takeaways to understand the trajectory of MICA:

  • Last fall, the City asked MICA to take a pause. We agreed and began to evaluate our options and decided to look for a new site.
  • On January 26, the City and MICA wrote a letter which reaffirmed our mutual commitment to arts & culture and the importance of creating a home for YTN and MICA. We also began planning a community listening dialogue.
  • In the Spring of 2018, the Tully’s site became an available option.
  • During the months of May – August 2018 we listened to over 200 Islanders in person, nearly 1,000 online, and worked hard to reach a cross-section of Islanders – this is what we heard:

Overall, what we heard is that 72% of MI citizens want a new central space for the arts; 71% want YTN to have a new home. That’s about as emphatic as it gets. In addition, over 600 people have signed our Statement of Support (please sign if you haven’t already).

In June, the Tully’s site was purchased by the city to build parking for the community. They issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to developers for a mixed-use partnership. Several developers responded and on October 5th those RFQ’s were submitted to the city. MICA is fortunate in that the City has weighted their decision to make arts a priority when choosing that developer. That means a developer that includes the arts in their proposal will receive more consideration than one that does not.

Stay tuned, as over the next few months the City will select the developer they feel will make the best partner for the City of Mercer Island. And, with fingers crossed, that will include MICA. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Mercer Island, we cannot let this pass us by, it may not come around again for a long time.

Mercer Island Center for the Arts at Tully’s can be a Central convening space for arts performances, education and collaboration among residents of all ages; a significant economic stimulus to the vitality of our town center and local businesses; a permanent, lasting home for YTN; a source of new pride for the island’s residents’ in the place we call home; and a great way to leverage the Sound Transit opportunity to the fullest and provide a beautiful gateway into MI.

We need to continue to let the City and Council know the community supports MICA at Tully’s. There is much you can do to make your voice heard: send an email, write a letter, attend council meetings, make a public comment, tell your friends, share the Statement of Support, and submit a Letter to the Editor to the Mercer Island Reporter. We encourage to wave your MICA flag!

We believe the time is now, the site is Tully’s, and Mercer Island is the community ready to make this dream a reality!

Paul Shoemaker
Executive Director

 

 

 

There is a great new opportunity for arts & culture for all generations on Mercer Island!

Let your neighbors and the MI City Council know you support MICA & YTN at the Tully’s location and lend your name to the Statement of Support.

*Please sign by September 17th in time for the City Council & MICA study session*

All Mercer Islanders are invited to the upcoming study session with the Mercer Island City Council and MICA. Lots of information from MICA’s community listening sessions and next steps for MICA will be discussed with the City Council. Please join us, bring a friend, and make a public comment.

When: Monday September 17, 2018

Where: Council Chambers

What: Study Session

Time: 6:00pm

Click here for a map of the MI City Hall.

Add to Calendar.

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 council@mercergov.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.

On August 28th, the arts on Mercer Island took a positive step forward, when the Mercer Island City Council met and voted 5-0 to make the arts a priority in the selection process for the commuter parking project. The letter below was sent to the City on the August 23rd to make our case. The next important date is a MICA and MI City Council Study Session + Public Comments on September 17 | 6pm at Council Chambers – please join us. For more details on the Aug. 28th Council meeting, click here.

 

August 23, 2018
To: City Council and City Manager 

We want to convey our strong and clear intent to be a key part of the City’s proposed mixed-use development at the Tully’s site. We believe the Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) can uniquely and powerfully fulfill the community benefits in the RFQ by creating a new space for arts, culture, and community on Mercer Island. Our message today comes not just from our board and staff, but much more importantly, with support from the Mercer Island community, whom we have listened to intensely over the last 3 months, hundreds in-person and nearly 1,000 online.

Our final, public report on the Community Visioning Dialogue is in process and will be shared widely in mid-September. One thing is clear – we have repeatedly heard a strong desire throughout our community to create a new center for the arts. To be sure, citizens have different opinions on some details, but based on what we heard again and again from islanders, a new space for the arts would

  • Provide a central, convening space to meet the growing demand for arts performances, education and collaboration among residents of all ages. It is desired by a significant majority of islanders and would finally match MI’s facilities for education and athletics.
  • Act as a significant stimulus to the economic vitality of our town center and local businesses (as well as building a growing revenue source for the City)
  • Create a permanent, lasting home for Youth Theatre Northwest, fulfilling the City’s commitment, first made back in 2013.
  • Become a dynamic addition to the identity of Mercer Island that will enhance not only our island’s residents’ property values, but our whole community’s pride in the place we call home
  • Leverage the Sound Transit opportunity to the fullest and provide a beautiful gateway into downtown

This is the opportunity to let the voice of the community shape our downtown development! We look forward to sharing this information in more depth during the September 17 study session at the City Council.  While we continue to explore other potential new locations, we believe the Tully’s has some very unique advantages, delivers on the most community benefits for the citizens of Mercer Island, and has a higher potential to be a long-term sustainable enterprise. We are clear that the City will not provide funding for MICA’s construction or operation and feel this new site gives us the best opportunity for meeting the community’s goals and our fundraising goals.

We are ready to dig in and do the hard work this will take over the next few years. It will include undertaking a major fundraising campaign, commissioning a revised design for the new location, and rallying the community’s support and continued engagement like we have for the past 3 months. To be crystal clear, MICA is energized, engaged, and ready to do our part to make this happen!

As we all know, this will not be a simple project. MICA will need to define the amount of space needed for specific uses within the mixed-use development, conduct a major fundraising campaign that will be linked to milestones and contingency plans with the City and a developer, and gear up to update all the economic modeling and feasibility studies needed to validate and execute a successful campaign. This is a big challenge and we are 100% up for it, that’s why we are starting to get ready now.

With the right partnership with the City and a developer, we can make this happen. MICA is asking the Council to give high priority and weighting to the “Arts and Cultural Events & Spaces” community benefit in the RFQ. The potential good this could do for Mercer Island is exciting, to say the least. We believe the time is now, the place is the Tully’s site, and Mercer Island is the community ready to make this dream a reality!

Sincerely – 
Prady Misra | Co-Chair, Genevieve Morton | Co-Chair, Virl Hill | Secretary, Elliott Newman | Treasurer

John G. Hill | Board, Bruce Lorig | Board, Xixi Shakes | Board,  Michelle Peyree | Board, James Rudolf | Board

Paul Shoemaker | Exec Director, Sharon Perez | Director of Strategic Relationships