September 17, 2018

Paul Shoemaker
Executive Director

Next Steps for MICA

On Monday September 17, MICA engaged with the Mercer Island City Council in a Study Session to discuss what was learned from the Community Visioning Dialogue and plans for a community arts center moving forward. Throughout the summer, MICA engaged with a cross-section of the community in large and small gatherings, with over 200 residents face-to-face and nearly 1,000 people through an online survey. Participants shared their desires for the future of arts and culture on Mercer Island.

Through these discussions, key takeaways rose to the top: strong support for an arts and culture center, need for a centralized space for the arts, and a desire to unite and strengthen the existing arts community – just to name a few. Concerns about the logistics of an arts center were also noted including: parking, location, and cost and sustainability. The information gathered made a clear consensus that a space for the arts is indeed wanted and needed on Mercer Island. Once published, the full Community Visioning Dialogue report will be available online at the MICA website MICA will also share these findings with the community on Monday, October 8 at the Mercer Island Community & Event Center from 7:00-8:30pm.

In a letter to the City Council dated August 23, 2018, MICA conveyed their strong and clear intent to be a key part of the City’s proposed mixed-use development on the site that housed the Tully’s coffeeshop. A new space for the arts, at this location, would stimulate economic vitality, be a dynamic addition to Town Center, and leverage the Sound Transit opportunity providing a beautiful gateway to downtown just to name a few benefits. MICA states that they can uniquely and powerfully fulfill this community need for creating a space for the arts.

With the input from the Community Visioning process and a possible new location for an arts center, MICA’s next step is to plan and launch a capital campaign. Executive Director, Paul Shoemaker, states “we’re almost there – the board and staff have been waiting for a long time to get into a campaign and get an arts center built. As long as the site pans out, we see the time is near.” MICA would like to start their fundraising efforts in early 2019 – but, the key trigger, is a secured site.

Mercer Island Center for the Arts intently listened to the community. As one survey respondent noted, “MICA would serve a great purpose if it helped pull together all the disparate art and culture on the Island.” Enthusiasm for creating a centralized space for the arts is a growing wave and brings a broad base of support, ready to begin to push forward.

For more information on Mercer Island Center for the Arts please visit the city’s website at or


May 7, 2018
Keith Imper
Marketing Manager


Community Visioning Dialogue

‘A Journey of Discovery’

Mercer Island Center for the Arts embarks on a journey to listen and discover what the MI community would like in a new space for the arts on the Island. Since MICA’s reintroduction on February 6th at the City Council meeting, they have been planning and preparing for the ensuing year. MICA can’t wait to start creating a Center for the Arts, but there are a few more steps to accomplish before that can begin. One of those steps is the Community Visioning Dialogue.

On April 24th MICA presented its 2nd Annual Friends of MICA Celebration. The event was hosted by Suzanne Zahr at her Suzanne Zahr Gallery and catered by Arista Catering. The celebration brought together 67 excited Island arts supporters, filling up the gallery with positive sentiment for the reboot of the MICA project. That evening was the kick-off of MICA’s Community Visioning Dialogue in which Executive Director Paul Shoemaker and Director of Strategic Relationship Sharon Perez discussed what you can expect from MICA over the next three months.

The Mercer Island community should have already received the all island mailer sent out weeks ago titled Moving Forward. Together. MICA truly believes that they can only move forward together as a community and that is why MICA has created this visioning dialogue. Executive Director, Paul Shoemaker says, “I’m excited to get out and hear what the Mercer Island community wants in a new space for the arts”. All islanders should lend their voice in moving the arts forward. All ideas and viewpoints will be thoughtfully taken into consideration.

To assist in the visioning dialogue MICA has enlisted the assistance of Phinney Bischoff; with over 30 years of creative and community engagement experience, Phinney Bischoff will partner with MICA to create and execute a series of impartial listening events throughout the months of May, June, and July. These listening events will consist of 1-on-1 interviews, small group input sessions, large group visioning sessions, and a survey. The first of two-large group visioning sessions will be held Monday night, June 11th from 7pm-8:30pm at the Boys and Girls Club Mercer Island. Please register if you would like to attend as spots are limited to 100 people. You may register by email or call 206-715-7671. To find out further information about the visioning process or receive updates please visit the MICA website,

This process is called ‘visioning’ because MICA wants to create a ‘vision’ for a community arts center on Mercer Island with the Mercer Island community. Of course, as always, if you have any questions about MICA please call 206-715-7671 or email


(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  Visit the MICA staff at 7710 SE 29th St. | call 206-715-7671 | email


The City of Mercer Island has requested that Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) consider delaying the upcoming public hearing and the accompanying legislative review process regarding an arts center proposed in the northwest corner of Mercerdale Park.

The MICA board of directors met at their monthly meeting and agreed to accept the city’s request to pause the current process. As a result, the October 18th public hearing in front of the Planning Commission has been canceled. MICA believes that this “pause” is a positive approach to advancing the project. It will also allow the City and MICA to explore alternative sites for a proposed arts center and discuss options for a partnership that can meet multiple City and community needs.

The City of Mercer Island and Mercer Island Center for the Arts share the belief that the creation of an arts center on Mercer Island will add numerous quality of life benefits to our community. We look forward to a mutually beneficial working relationship as we move through this process.

For more information on Mercer Island Center for the Arts please visit the city’s website at or


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. 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 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 Questions can also be emailed to 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


The Pacific Northwest has finally come out of the cloudy shadows. Along with the heat and sun comes an exciting summer for Mercer Island Center for the Arts. The MICA team always looks forward to connecting with the community during the many summer activities around the island.

Once again, MICA is a partner/non-profit sponsor for many of the eagerly awaited on-island events including Mercer Island Farmers Market, Summer Celebration, Art Uncorked, Mostly Music in the Park, and Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle’s performance in Luther Burbank Park.

MICA representatives made up of staff, board, and other community volunteers will be present to talk with you about arts on the island, Friends of MICA, and to answer any questions you have regarding Mercer Island Center for the Arts.

MICA booths at summer art events:
July 20 | Mostly Music in the Park
July 27 | Mostly Music in the Park
August 3 | Mostly Music in the Park
August 10 | Mostly Music in the Park
August 17 | Mostly Music in the Park
August 19 | Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle at Luther Burbank Park
August 20 | Mercer Island Farmers Market
August 24 | Mostly Music in the Park
September 8 | Art Uncorked
September 24 | Mercer Island Farmers Market – Sponsor of the Week

If you are a Friend of MICA, join us at the MICA office for a new summer event: MICA Happy Hour from 5-6pm before Mostly Music in the Park. Come out and meet other supporters of the arts on Mercer Island and the teams behind all our Mercer Island Master Artists. New Seasons Market will generously provide refreshments and wine will be poured by Coach House Cellars, made possible by Mike Donnelly of Bell-Anderson Insurance. Happy Hours at the MICA Office are located at 7710 SE 29th.

Featured Mercer Island Master Artists:
July 20 | Children’s Dance Conservatory/Island Youth Ballet
July 27 | Music Works Northwest
August 3 | Youth Theatre Northwest
August 17 | Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle
August 24 | Mercer Island Visual Arts League

Friends of MICA was created one year ago in response to many community members asking how they can show their support for MICA. This annual support group invites everyone from students to seniors to participate in creating a vibrant art center for the Mercer Island community.

To become a Friend of MICA visit or call Keith at the MICA office at 206-715-7671.

Mercer Island Center for the Arts is a nonprofit community venture, working closely with the city, resident 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. Information on frequently asked questions is at or visit the MICA office at 7710 SE 29th St. Questions can also be emailed to

Don’t forget to visit the MICA Arts Calendar to receive up-to-date information about arts events happening on the island

We look forward to seeing you throughout the summer.