Remembering Jazz Legend Ernestine Anderson

MOHAI, King County News Photo Collection, 2007.45, photo by Sally Tonkin.

We are proud to share this very special post, featuring two legendary figures of Seattle’s Jazz community. Grammy-nominated jazz singer Ernestine Anderson passed away in March, leaving behind the legacy of an incredible career that began in Seattle’s Central District. Her friend and Garfield High School classmate Grace Holden—daughter of Seattle Jazz’s “royal family”—generously shared some of her memories of Ernestine with us.

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Image Number: 2002.45_ErnestineAnderson_01 Jazz Singer Ernestine Anderson
MOHAI, King County News Photo Collection, 2007.45, photo by Sally Tonkin.

We are proud to share this very special post, featuring two legendary figures of Seattle’s Jazz community. Grammy-nominated jazz singer Ernestine Anderson passed away in March, leaving behind the legacy of an incredible career that began in Seattle’s Central District. Her friend and Garfield High School classmate Grace Holden—daughter of Seattle Jazz’s “royal family”—generously shared some of her memories of Ernestine with us.

In 1944, the Anderson family—Joseph, Erma, and their teenage twin daughters Ernestine and Josephine—had just relocated to Seattle from Houston, in search of wartime work. Ernestine, who had already begun performing in Houston clubs, quickly located Seattle’s active underground jazz scene. She connected with other young musicians at Garfield High School, including Grace Holden. Grace says of Ernestine:

“She was someone I looked up to. My experience with her was that she was always pleasantly quiet yet strong in my presence. During our youth we first met during our Garfield High School classes. As time passed we began to find we enjoyed music. We listened and hummed sounds of songs and artists like Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn.”

In fact, some of Ernestine’s earliest recorded music was a cover of a Sarah Vaughn song. By 1947, Ernestine had formed a band with another Garfield student, trumpeter Quincy Jones, after playing music together at the Washington Social and Educational Club, located above a butcher shop at 23rd and Madison owned by local bandleader Robert A. “Bumps” Blackwell. Ernestine, Quincy, and their band  recorded an acetate “instant disc” cover of Sarah Vaughan’s classic song “Lover Man” at Tom and Ellen Ogilvy’s Electro-Mart record shop and recording studio.

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Scan of the billing for the Local 493 Reunion Review Concert at Jazz Alley, October 17, 1994. Courtesy of Grace Holden.

Ernestine and Grace continued to make music together: “Eventually, we decided that we would enter into local contests in and around Seattle. We had fun entering and being identified as local performers.” Even as their careers and lives spanned decades and took them across the state, country, and even abroad, the two women found ways to share the stage. Grace recounts that, “One of our most memorable appearances was when we were showcased and appeared on the program at Jazz Alley’s Local 493 Band.” The event, which took place on October 17, 1994, billed itself as “A musical celebration of the proud history of Local 493, the African American Musicians Union through the first half of this century” and invited audiences to, “…enjoy and honor this important history and hear these jazz pioneers perform reunited for the first time in decades.” The impressive roster of performers, which of course includes Ernestine and Grace, can be seen in the document above, shared with us by Grace.

Of her friend and fellow musician, Grace told us: “Surely, I shall never forget her and her genuine personality.” We thank Grace for sharing these memories, and we thank Ernestine for sharing her immense talent with the world.

All biographical information on Ernestine Anderson is courtesy of HistoryLink.org.

Announcing 2016 Projects Grant Recipients

Merna Ann Hecht, Stories of Arrival, 2015. Photo courtesy of Jack Straw Cultural Center, photographer Sherwin Eng.

We kick off every year with our Projects grants. They fund a staggering range of work by individuals and organizations in arts, heritage, and historic preservation, and they set in motion a lot of fantastic King County cultural experiences for the upcoming year! The February and March deadlines brought almost 500 applications, with a large percentage of first-time applicants—something we’re especially excited about. Across all three disciplines, we funded 171 projects, for a total of just over $1 million. Here are just a few projects to keep an eye out for this year:

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Merna_Stories_JackStraw
Merna Ann Hecht, Stories of Arrival, 2015. Photo courtesy of Jack Straw Cultural Center, photographer Sherwin Eng.

We kick off every year with our Projects grants. They fund a staggering range of work by individuals and organizations in arts, heritage, and historic preservation, and they set in motion a lot of fantastic King County cultural experiences for the upcoming year! The February and March deadlines brought almost 500 applications, with a large percentage of first-time applicants—something we’re especially excited about. Across all three disciplines, we funded 171 projects, for a total of just over $1 million. Here are just a few projects to keep an eye out for this year:

In the Individual Arts category, Merna Ann Hecht received funding for her project Stories of Arrival, which brings the poetic voices of high school age refugees and immigrants—all of whom are English Language Learners—to the wider community. Look for an anthology release celebration and poetry reading as part of Tukwila’s annual Cultural Heritage Festival.

As part of this year’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Mikala Woodward was awarded funding for her Heritage project Drawing the Line: Lake Washington’s Historic Shoreline, a temporary outdoor installation marking Lake Washington’s historic shoreline. The installation will stretch about 2.5 miles along Lake Washington Boulevard in Southeast Seattle, and will happen on a Bicycle Sunday in July, when the street is closed to car traffic and many people are out on foot, bicycles, and skates.

North porch roof repair, Kirkland Womans Club © 2012, courtesy of Kirkland Woman's Club
North porch roof repair, Kirkland Womans Club © 2012, courtesy of Kirkland Woman’s Club.

With the funding they received this year through Preservation, the Kirkland Woman’s Club will conduct a Needs Assessment of their nearly-100-year-old building. Built in 1924, the KWC building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is in need of both functional and aesthetic updates. A professional Needs Assessment will ensure that the club’s members have a thorough understanding of the building’s structural and mechanical systems as they begin this ambitious project.

From the Group Arts pool, Longhouse Media will launch an expanded iteration of their hugely successful project, YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND. Mark your calendar now for Georgetown’s Art Attack on Saturday, October 12, when they’ll offer a gallery show of new work, a Native Art Market, and cross-community dialogue opportunities throughout the month. A broad range of art will be offered, including prints, murals, traditional Tlingit stick ‘n’ poke tattoos, Náakw Dancers and coastal jams with hand drums, and more.

And, a bonus, just because we’re so excited about this year’s projects—check out the trailer for Ruben Perez Rodriguez’s film Fight Fam, which received Art Projects for Individuals funding:
[vimeo width=”600″ height=”493″]https://vimeo.com/125708558[/vimeo]

Head to our website to see the full lists of Projects grant recipients in Arts, Heritage, and Historic Preservation. Thank you to all who applied—the size and variety of this year’s applicant pool are a testament to the strength of the cultural work being done in King County. To those who did not receive funding this year, we strongly encourage you to keep applying!

We also thank those who served on grant review panels for their dedication, wisdom, and ability to make difficult decisions. Our 2016 Projects Grant panelists were:
Tarik Abouzied, Michael Blum, Sheila Coppola, Jonathan Cunningham, Savvy Dani, Jason Everett, Dr. David Francis, Gabriela Denise Frank, Jessica Kottke, Alexandra Madera, Dr. Natalie Martinez, Julie LaRue, Richard Nelson, Michael Owcharuk, Darby Riley, Samuella Samaniego, Sarah Samudre, June Sekiguchi, Suzanne Simmons, Tyler S. Sprague, Zachary Stocks, Dani Tirrell, Mary Jane Topash, Aimee van Roekel, Danielle Villegas, Inye Wokoma, and Eugenia Woo.

An Evening of Art and Water in Georgetown

Sans façon, Fire Hydrant Drinking Fountains: Group, photo courtesy of the artists.

What can artists offer in the context of a city-wide water infrastructure project? Plenty.

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Sans façon, Fire Hydrant Drinking Fountains: Group, photo courtesy of the artists.
Sans façon, Fire Hydrant Drinking Fountains: Group, photo courtesy of the artists.

What can artists offer in the context of a city-wide water infrastructure project? Plenty.

King County and Seattle are realizing an ambitious plan to protect the health of our waterways. A complex network of facilities, treatment, and conveyance, King County’s control plan in Seattle is designed to dramatically limit combined sewer overflows—or CSOs—caused by excess stormwater in the sewer system on rainy days. CSOs exist only in older Seattle neighborhoods, where one set of pipes carries both sewage and stormwater. The facilities built in those neighborhoods include a provision for 1% for public art.

…the CSO system is everywhere, it affects us all….miles of pipes, treatment and tanks, networking water around the city—movement and drama underground the mind can barely imagine. This is where artists can excel, expressing big ideas, connections seen and unseen, tapping feelings and emotions, exposing the essence of what it is to be human and relate to the world around us.
-From the CSO Art Master Plan

In March of last year we announced that Sans façon had been selected to develop a CSO Art Master Plan. The plan is now complete and the planning artists are ready to share their recommendations for how art experiences can create an emotional connection to the CSO system for citizens at an event that is free and open to the public. In the first hour, Sans façon will present the CSO Art Master Plan curatorial framework, ethos, and opportunities for commissioned artists. In the second hour, a panel discussion will focus on artists working in the context of water utilities and infrastructure. Join us!

Art + Water at Oxbow in Georgetown
June 16, 2016, 7:00—9:00 pm
6118 12th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98108

Washington Hall Reopening

The Central District’s Washington Hall is fully restored and ready for audiences. Photo by Kji Kelly, Historic Seattle.

On Wednesday, June 1, Historic Seattle will mark the reopening of Washington Hall with a free celebration hosted in conjunction with anchor partner organizations 206 Zulu, Hidmo, and Voices Rising. From 5:00—8:00 pm, all are invited to visit the newly restored Hall and enjoy music and light refreshments.

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The Central District's Washington Hall is fully restored and ready for audiences. Photo by Kji Kelly, Historic Seattle.
The Central District’s Washington Hall is fully restored and ready for audiences. Photo by Kji Kelly, Historic Seattle.

On Wednesday, June 1, Historic Seattle will mark the reopening of Washington Hall with a free celebration hosted in conjunction with anchor partner organizations 206 Zulu, Hidmo, and Voices Rising. From 5:00—8:00 pm, all are invited to visit the newly restored Hall and enjoy music and light refreshments.

“Washington Hall has served a cross-section of citizens for more than 100 years, and we are proud to have successfully restored this beloved building so that it can continue to meet the needs of the community and provide a home for arts and culture,” says Historic Seattle’s Executive Director, Kji Kelly.

Built in 1908 for the Danish Brotherhood, Washington Hall originally served as a fraternal lodge, settlement house, and center for social and cultural activities of Seattle’s Danish immigrant population. Over time the Hall became a hub for social and cultural activities reflecting a broad array of ethnic communities. This is a building that many have called home, as it served as an affordable rental facility and hub for activities within the local Jewish, Filipino, African American, Korean, Eritrean, Ethiopian and other communities.

The "Hall for All" has served the community since 1908. Photo by Kji Kelly.
The “Hall for All” has served the community since 1908. Photo by Kji Kelly.

Washington Hall has also served as a popular performing arts venue, hosting musicians and speakers such as Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Joe Louis. Many of these events were held at Washington Hall because it was the only venue of significant capacity in Seattle that would allow people of color to perform.

Although the Hall had consistently been used as a performance space since its construction, it had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of demolition before Historic Seattle negotiated a purchase in June 2009, with help from 4Culture. Since acquiring the building, Historic Seattle has conducted a 7-year campaign totaling nearly $10 million to finance four phases of construction. This campaign culminated in November 2015 with a King County Building for Culture grant to fully fund the recently completed final phase of construction.

Upon the reopening of Washington Hall, the anchor partner organizations will manage its operations and continuing use, and will ensure that the “Hall for All” continues to serve the Central District community’s needs for performance, gathering, and meeting spaces. Historic Seattle will retain ownership of the property and ensure its long-term maintenance and stewardship. This self-sustaining operating model guarantees that Washington Hall will be a vibrant, affordable, diverse arts and cultural facility that serves Seattle and King County’s arts, heritage, and preservation communities.

Following the June 1 opening celebration, this summer will see all kinds of performances and events at Washington Hall! Mark your calendar for this month’s happenings:

Jazz Intoxication with HistoryLink
Friday, June 10, 7:00—10:00 pm
Relive the first documented jazz performance in Washington state, exactly 98 years later in the place where it happened!

King Khazm: Diaries of a MAD
Friday, June 17, 8:00 pm
Hip Hop emcee and producer King Khazm presents a double album release and theatrical interpretation of how a bi-racial, disabled youth was able to overcome challenges in Seattle’s Southend.

Guest Post: Breaking Ground on the New Burke Museum

Last summer, we announced our Building for Culture initiative. This historic $28 million investment in our cultural infrastructure is now in motion all over King County, including, most recently, at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Alaina Fuld, Director of External Affairs at the Burke, recaps a major milestone in the museum’s ambitious plan to build the New Burke:

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Last summer, we announced our Building for Culture initiative. This historic $28 million investment in our cultural infrastructure is now in motion all over King County, including, most recently, at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Alaina Fuld, Director of External Affairs at the Burke, recaps a major milestone in the museum’s ambitious plan to build the New Burke:

Elected officials, Burke and University of Washington leaders, and University Temple Children’s School students break ground on the New Burke. Photo: Burke Museum.
Elected officials, Burke and University of Washington leaders, and University Temple Children’s School students break ground on the New Burke. Photo: Burke Museum.

First dates and first dinosaur sightings. A room full of adults clamoring to touch a mammoth tusk. A teenager experiencing a new sense of pride in his culture. “A-ha” moments and deep relationships that span decades.

These were just a few of the stories shared as more than 500 people gathered on Wednesday, May 18, to celebrate breaking ground on the New Burke: a new, flagship facility for the Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture planned to open in 2019.

The new, 113,000 sq. ft. building located on the University of Washington (UW) Seattle campus will be 60% larger than the current facility. The New Burke will have an innovative “inside-out” design, integrating exhibits and learning areas with visible research labs and collections storage throughout the museum.

“[In the new facility] the Burke will be better able to share the story of the Northwest and our place in the world. It will inspire understanding, wonder and pride in this place we call home,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Architectural rendering showing the paleontology collections space in the New Burke. Illustration: Olson Kundig, Stephanie Bower Architectural Illustration.
Architectural rendering showing the paleontology collections space in the New Burke. Illustration: Olson Kundig, Stephanie Bower Architectural Illustration.

For nearly eight decades, the Burke collections lacked a permanent home, moving between UW buildings. Today, the absence of climate control and backup power in the current facility, erected in 1962, now threaten the long-term viability of our state’s natural and cultural heritage collections—a total of more than 16 million objects.

In the New Burke, climate control and backup power will protect the collections for decades to come. State-of-the-art labs will serve more students, researchers and artists. More education space will allow the Burke to potentially double the number of Pre-K–12 students served each year.

Students from the University Temple Children’s School—located across the street from the site of the New Burke—joined project donors and officials for the ceremonial groundbreaking. The group used shovels, pick axes and other field tools used by Burke archaeologists and paleontologists for the “dig.”

[youtube width=”610″ height=”493″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE01_bZJtog[/youtube]

The groundbreaking was the culmination of a year filled with exciting steps toward the New Burke: completing design of the new building; receiving funding from the State of Washington, King County and the City of Seattle; success in private fundraising; and receiving approval from the UW Board of Regents to break ground.

To-date, $67 million of the total $99 million project budget has been raised. The museum will request $24.2 million from the State of Washington in 2017, and continue to raise private funds.

Consultation with diverse community groups about the exhibits and education programs being developed for the New Burke will also be a major focus for the coming years.

“The Burke Museum has been exploring our shared heritage and natural history for 135 years,” said Constantine. “This new building will help continue that tradition for a new, and very different, century.”

View more photos from the New Burke Groundbreaking Ceremony. Learn more about the New Burke: newburke.org.

June at Gallery4Culture: Pat De Caro

Pat De Caro, Foreign Shores, 2016. Charcoal and pastel on Fabriano paper. 28 x 19 ½ inches each. Photo: Otto Greule.

Pat De Caro
Foreign Shores
June 2—30, 2016
Opening: First Thursday, June 2, 6:00—8:00 pm

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Pat De Caro, Foreign Shores, 2016. Charcoal and pastel on Fabriano paper. 28 x 19 ½ inches each. Photo: Otto Greule.
Pat De Caro, Foreign Shores, 2016. Charcoal and pastel on Fabriano paper. 28 x 19 ½ inches each. Photo: Otto Greule.

Pat De Caro
Foreign Shores
June 2—30, 2016
Opening: First Thursday, June 2, 6:00—8:00 pm

Pat De Caro presents Foreign Shores, an expansive collection of over eighty charcoal drawings that reflect our relationship to memory and time. Mounted in a narrative grid, extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling, the drawings surround the viewer. They promote meanings and metaphoric connections that shift with emotion, much like light changes according to time, weather, and season.

Rather than limiting the world to singular moments, De Caro’s drawings release us from cartography and encourage us to navigate the waters of our own experience. Her imagery evokes stories passed on, shared and constructed to give expression to a collective consciousness.

“I’m pondering that place between knowing and not knowing, when perception seems real, yet it triggers a vibration in our memory” says DeCaro. “Foreign Shores refers to the edge that defines those waters—waters that are both familiar and mysterious at the same time.”

About the Artist: Pat De Caro’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Yvonne Twining Humber Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts and grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund (NYC), the Ford Foundation, and the Seattle Arts Commission; she also received a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship in Painting and was a Neddy Artist Award finalist. De Caro has participated in residencies at Pilchuck School of Glass, Ateliers Hoherweg (Dusseldorf), the Ragdale Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony.

Website: patdecaro.com
Up Next: Gallery4Culture will feature Andrew Hoeppner in July.

May 2016 is Arts Education Month

The King County Council designates May 2016 as Arts Education Month in King County.

At its May 16 meeting the King County Council issued a proclamation designating May 2016 as Arts Education Month in King County, extolling the benefits of a complete arts education and recognizing the efforts of arts educators and advocates throughout the county for their commitment to providing a comprehensive arts education for all students. Thank you King County Council for your support of this critical issue!

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The King County Council designates May 2016 as Arts Education Month in King County.
The King County Council designates May 2016 as Arts Education Month in King County.

At its May 16 meeting the King County Council issued a proclamation designating May 2016 as Arts Education Month in King County, extolling the benefits of a complete arts education and recognizing the efforts of arts educators and advocates throughout the county for their commitment to providing a comprehensive arts education for all students. Thank you King County Council for your support of this critical issue!

Supporting that work, 4Culture and ArtsEd Washington have just released the Cornerstones of Creativity (C3) Report that details the results of a county-wide survey conducted in 2015 of all 19 King County school districts that included one-on-one interviews with district leadership and a follow-up online survey.

The Six Key Features for Equity in Arts Education were identified through research conducted by ArtsEd Washington and supported by 4Culture.
The Six Key Features for Equity in Arts Education were identified through research conducted by ArtsEd Washington and supported by 4Culture.

Cornerstones of Creative Capacity is a research project designed to support equity in arts education by identifying the current arts education infrastructure reality in school districts throughout King County, Washington and determining infrastructure essentials to sustain arts education as defined by state policy and law.

The Six Key Features for Equity in Arts Education were identified through this research. They are intended as guideposts to support administrators, educators, and partners as they work to provide high-quality arts education equitably to all students within their districts. We encourage you to engage with this material and to share widely among colleagues, advocates, funders, and community partners.

More information on this project, as well as the detailed findings and implications, can be found in the Cornerstones of Creative Capacity Full Report from which the Key Features are drawn.

Collections Care Grant Now Open

Mardi Gras Float, Mardi Gras parade in the Central District, unidentified royalty riding a float, circa 1955. Photo courtesy of MOHAI, Al Smith Collection.

Storage systems, display mounts, digital scanners: Collections Care may not be our most glamorous grant program, but it’s a favorite! We love seeing the stories that emerge when our region’s historians and archivists get the support they need to care for precious artifacts. Collections Care is critical—things like shelves and cases can mean the difference between a piece of history being lost or sticking around for generations to come.

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Mardi Gras Float, Mardi Gras parade in the Central District, unidentified royalty riding a float, circa 1955. Photo courtesy of MOHAI, Al Smith Collection
Mardi Gras Float, Mardi Gras parade in the Central District, unidentified royalty riding a float, circa 1955. Photo courtesy of MOHAI, Al Smith Collection.

Storage systems, display mounts, digital scanners: Collections Care may not be our most glamorous grant program, but it’s a favorite! We love seeing the stories that emerge when our region’s historians and archivists get the support they need to care for precious artifacts. Collections Care is critical—things like shelves and cases can mean the difference between a piece of history being lost or sticking around for generations to come.

Al Smith Portrait Seattle photographer Al Smith (1916-2008) at the MOHAI opening of his exhibition Jazz on the Spot, 1994. Credit MOHAI, Howard Giske photo
Seattle photographer Al Smith (1916-2008) at the opening of his exhibition Jazz on the Spot, 1994. Courtesy of MOHAI, photo by Howard Giske.

MOHAI offers a perfect example of this. Using their 2015 Collections Care grant, the museum is bringing an incredible local story to life. Al Smith spent most of the 20th century living and photographing in Seattle’s Central District—the result is an astonishing body of work of more than 50,000 photographs, almost all of which were entrusted to MOHAI by Smith’s family in 2014. Staff have partnered with the Black Heritage Society of Washington State to assess and catalog the massive collection, and to work with the community to identify the myriad neighbors, friends, family, and coworkers who populate Smith’s soulful photographs. MOHAI’s long-term plans for the collection include digitization and an exhibit—all possible because the collection is being painstakingly cared for early on.

Applications are due Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm PDT. This grant is open to nonprofit heritage and historical organizations with collections that focus on King County history, and supports planning, training, cataloging, assessments, inventories, materials, and other collections-related projects. Make sure to read the updated guidelines carefully. Don’t forget—you can save, quit and resume your application as many times as needed until the deadline, so start early!

As with all of our grants, we offer free, drop-in workshops to help you with your application. Bring your questions to one of the workshops listed below, or feel free to contact Brian J. Carter, 4Culture’s new Heritage Lead, at brian.carter@4culture.org, or 206-263-1586.

4Culture Offices
June 9 and 20, 12:00—1:00 pm
June 2 (First Thursday – FREE Parking), 6:30—7:30 pm

Tukwila Heritage Center
May 11, 3:00—4:00 pm

Wing Luke Museum
May 31, 12:00—1:00 pm

Bring the Touring Arts Roster to Your Community

Urvasi Dance by Arabinda Mahapatra, 2011

31 dance teams, 158 music groups, 6 spoken word artists, 34 theater ensembles—they’re all members of our Touring Arts Roster, and now, they’re all right at your fingertips!

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Urvasi Dance by Arabinda Mahapatra, 2011
Urvasi Dance by Arabinda Mahapatra, 2011

31 dance teams, 158 music groups, 6 spoken word artists, 34 theater ensembles—they’re all members of our Touring Arts Roster, and now, they’re all right at your fingertips!

For over three decades, the Roster has been an invaluable tool for both performers and the people who hire them. The Roster promotes and publicizes performers of all disciplines and also serves as a one-stop resource for anyone looking to bring a dynamic art experience to their event. Explore the Roster and discover a fantastic new act!

This year, we’re excited to make the Roster even more useful by offering a financial incentive for the organizations that help put these performers in front of great local audiences. Funds are available for local arts agencies, chambers of commerce, downtown associations, and municipalities presenting free concerts in their communities to be reimbursed by 4Culture for 50% of Touring Arts Roster performing artist fees. If you represent one of these organizations, read through the guidelines to make sure you qualify, and start your application!

The incentive program benefits artists, organizations, and audiences—and all just in time for summer concert and festival season. We can’t wait to see Roster performers in action all over King County in the coming months!

Guest Post: Bookmarks and Landmarks in South King County

Century-old apple trees in the orchard at Mary Olson Farm. Photo by Rachael McAlister, White River Valley Museum.

SoCoCulture is a coalition of arts, heritage and botanical organizations throughout South King County, all working together to connect King County residents to the cultural vitality of the area. In this guest post, Barbara McMichael shares details on a brand new program created by a group of South King County historical organizations:

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Century-old apple trees in the orchard at Mary Olson Farm. Photo by Rachael McAlister, White River Valley Museum.
Century-old apple trees in the orchard at Mary Olson Farm. Photo by Rachael McAlister, White River Valley Museum.

SoCoCulture is a coalition of arts, heritage and botanical organizations throughout South King County, all working together to connect King County residents to the cultural vitality of the area. In this guest post, Barbara McMichael shares details on a brand new program created by a group of South King County historical organizations:

Ask the executive director of any local historical house museum and they’ll tell you: if they had a nickel for every time they met somebody who said, “I’ve always meant to check that place out,” they’d never have to apply to 4Culture for Sustained Support funding again. Drawing new visitors into these beautiful old landmark residences means that the nonprofit organizations running them have to go beyond hosting the traditional tours and teas.

Over the next few months, three historical sites are piloting a new initiative that was proposed by SoCoCulture and quickly grew into a generous collaboration among several cultural organizations in South King County. Bookmarks & Landmarks aims to bring readers to the following sites by hosting events that discuss books dealing with some of the themes that each site strives to interpret.

First up, the Greater Kent Historical Society will welcome participants to Bereiter House on May 21 for a discussion of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This bestseller celebrates the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team comprised of University of Washington students who came from the working class. Guest speakers will include rowing historians, current rowing enthusiasts, and a special appearance by local Olympic rowing champion Al Rossi, who brought home Olympic Bronze in 1952.

On June 18, the historic Mary Olson Farm in Auburn will host a program centered on the novel The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. The book tells the story of a reclusive Washington apple grower at the beginning of the 20th century – a perfect fit for the Mary Olson Farm, which has been restored to reflect its roots as a subsistence farm from that same era, and features a century-old orchard containing many heirloom apple varieties.

And on July 16, just outside of Auburn, the landmarked Neely Mansion will focus on Looking Like the Enemy, a memoir written by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald about her removal from Vashon Island during World War II and incarceration in a Japanese American internment camp, even though she was an American citizen. The author and other local members of the Japanese American community will participate on a panel to recount their experiences from that time. In the 1930s, the Neely Mansion was home to Japanese American farmers who built a traditional bathhouse on the grounds. Over the intervening decades, the structure had fallen into disrepair, but recently the bathhouse was recognized as a King County landmark, and its restoration is being completed this spring.

Pre-registration is required to take part in any or all of these Bookmarks & Landmarks programs, but participation is free, thanks to the generous sponsorship of 4Culture, the King County Library System, Humanities Washington, and realtors Kathi Jones (John L. Scott) and Vickie Chynoweth (Keller Williams).

Guest Post: Highline Historical Society Expands its Reach

The Highline Historical Society celebrates the opening of Latinos in Highline. Photo by Nancy Salguero McKay.

Nancy Salguero McKay is the Curator of Collections and Exhibits at the Highline Historical Society, soon to be the Highline Heritage Museum. As the organization grows and changes, Nancy shares some insight into how she approaches her work, and into how she and her colleagues work to reflect and engage their communities:

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Photo courtesy of the Highline Historical Society.
The Highline Historical Society celebrates the opening of Latinos in Highline. Photo by Nancy Salguero McKay.

Nancy Salguero McKay is the Curator of Collections and Exhibits at the Highline Historical Society, soon to be the Highline Heritage Museum. As the organization grows and changes, Nancy shares some insight into how she approaches her work, and into how she and her colleagues work to reflect and engage their communities:

We tell the stories of the Highline region and its people! We create exhibits, public programming, and the opportunity to add artifacts to our community collections. We are creating a bridge from the earliest pioneer recollections to the newest immigrant stories. We are the Highline Historical Society, and soon the Highline Heritage Museum. The museum is presently under construction. We are planning to open to the public during the winter of 2016.

Our passion is for our visitors to have access to a broad spectrum of information sources and cultural perspectives. We want our stories to spark discussions and to share differences and similarities. We are creating a place where visitors can connect with the stories and with each other. We envision ourselves sitting at a round table where no one is the leader and stories are heard respectfully regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disabilities or ethnicity.

An example reflecting our mission is a newly installed exhibit at the City of SeaTac. The Latinos in Highline—Moral Courage exhibit is more than a re-telling of immigration experiences. It is inspired by families starting a new life in the Highline area who showed moral courage. Every immigrant is willing to face not only physical danger but emotional pain, disapproval, even financial insecurity! They have the courage and the moral values to be honest at the risk of community rejection or retaliation. This is about families passing these values to the next generation. This exhibit will be mounted at multiple locations around Highline.

We are providing a meeting ground for everyone to express his or her voice. We are inviting visitors to respond and add cultural artifacts and historical records to display. This exhibit is about bringing the immigrant voice to the round table.

For me, the Latinos in Highline exhibit is a personal matter. As an immigrant myself I know how it feels to face painful circumstances and to overcome obstacles. It is personal to bring to the table a woman’s voice in gender differences, or as a millennial to embrace intergenerational changes, or as a person with a hearing disability using hearing aids. History is a personal matter to everyone. We all have many voices we represent; we thrive in celebrating our uniqueness and in discovering our similarities.

Visit our new website. We feel it reflects our community. We invite everyone to preserve their stories, to collect their treasures, to engage in discussions, to keep remembering, to discover new points of view, to be inspired by people, to explore our collections, to share their voices and to learn together. Our goal is to capture diverse stories. It is not just about bringing stories from a variety of different races; it is about celebrating a variety of life experiences free of bias and prejudice.