826 Seattle is all about young writers

826 Seattle tutoring. Photo courtesy of 826 Seattle.
826 Seattle tutoring. Photo courtesy of 826 Seattle.
826 Seattle tutoring. Photo courtesy of 826 Seattle.

826 Seattle is one of the many organizations in King County that support young people with programs focusing on learning and experience. We are proud to help fund 826 Seattle through our Sustained Support program. Guest Alicia Craven  shares a little about the organization and their upcoming programs.

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826 Seattle tutoring. Photo courtesy of 826 Seattle.
826 Seattle tutoring. Photo courtesy of 826 Seattle.

826 Seattle is one of the many organizations in King County that support young people with programs focusing on learning and experience. We are proud to help fund 826 Seattle through our Sustained Support program. Guest Alicia Craven  shares a little about the organization and their upcoming programs.

826 Seattle is a nonprofit youth writing, tutoring and publishing center dedicated to helping youth improve their creative and expository writing skills, and helping teachers inspire their students to write. 826 Seattle provides after school tutoring help to students ages 6 to 18, partners with public school teachers in the region on ambitious in-schools writing project, hosts three times a week writing field trips, holds weekend and summer writing workshops, and publishes books of student writing, all free of charge to families and schools. 826 Seattle is located in the Greenwood neighborhood, behind the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company– a facade that sparks the imagination of young writers.

This spring 826 has a wide variety of free weekend writing workshops, for example– “Sugary-Sweet Stories”– food writing for first and second graders, “Break a Leg” play writing for third through fifth graders, “How to Podcast Everything” radio story writing for middle school students, and “Elements of Style” knowing (and breaking) grammar rules in fiction for high school writers.

Workshops range from one to three sessions, and sign-ups are available on the programming section of the 826 Seattle website. Free classes are also offered throughout the month of July; class listings will be posted in early June.

826 Seattle relies heavily on the skills and expertise of community volunteers. Learn more by visiting the website: www.826seattle.org.

Transported in Time to the Bors Hede Inn

Camlann Medieval Village. Photo by Roger Shell.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Jessica Lenderts.

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Camlann Medieval Village.  Photo by Roger Shell.
Camlann Medieval Village. Photo by Roger Shell.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Jessica Lenderts.

For those with a love of history and a desire to try something new, the Camlann Yuletide Feast is nothing short of magical. While a Renaissance Fair-type reenactment might be the first thing that comes to mind, the Yuletide Feast is a much more intimate and relaxed experience, and one in which you are an active participant, not just a spectator. Camlann is a living history site, and it’s clear that its members (or “interpreters”) are truly making an effort to help you feel like you’re being transported in time – from the surroundings and clothing to the preparation of the food and even patterns of speech, everything reflects a careful attention to detail and historical accuracy. I was once part of a reenactment troupe myself, so I know that it can be somewhat challenging to find the right balance between the historical character you’re portraying and the fact that you’re interacting with very modern people. In my opinion, the interpreters at Camlann do a great job of navigating this divide and playing out a historical scene with both earnestness and a sense of humor.

When my guest and I arrived at the feast, we were greeted warmly by Roger, the “hosteler” at the Bors Hede Inn, and ushered into a large room where other guests were already seated at long wooden tables. Roger and the other interpreters – serving men and women, a herald, musicians and performers, and a noble lady who presided over the feast – were all in period costumes. The feast began with a speech of welcome and presentation of a yule candle to the noble lady, and then trenchers – slabs of bread that were used as plates in the middle ages – were distributed to each guest, and spiced wine was poured into heavy metal goblets. Three courses were served throughout the evening, and as each was brought out, Roger described the dishes being served and their preparation. My guest and I were continuously impressed with the sumptuousness of the meal, which included multiple kinds of wine, roasted meats of every variety, a whole goose, salmon, and dessert. The dishes used only ingredients and cooking methods that were available in the Middle Ages, which in some cases made them unfamiliar to the modern palate, but they were always delicious. All the food was shared communally, and dishes were passed down the table as they were served. There was also entertainment – medieval songs and a performance by a “traveling minstrel” – in between each course. The evening progressed at a leisurely place, and we left feeling full, happy, and like we had enjoyed a very unique experience.

It’s obvious that the staff put a lot of effort and heart into this production. It seems like it has also become something of a community center point, and the interpreters knew several attendees by name or face. Efforts were also made to dietary needs, which is never an easy feat with a large communal meal! The flow of the event was smooth and practiced, despite the complexity of bringing out many different dishes on time.

The feast took place on the lower floor of the Bors Hede Inn in the Camlann village. With the exception of the bathrooms, which were thankfully modern, the building is stylized to resemble a medieval inn, from the building façade and furniture to small details of decoration. The feast room was crafted to resemble a small hall, with long wooden tables and benches, a central fireplace, and beautiful paintings on the walls that were carefully done in the style of the period. Food was brought down from a kitchen on the upper floor. Although there was a small fire burning, the room was fairly chilly, and sitting on hard wooden benches for hours does start to become a little uncomfortable – but this is all part of the authenticity of the experience. Unfortunately, it was too dark when we arrived to explore the village as much as I would have liked (and it was also a very cold night); but what we could see was reminiscent of a small medieval village just as I would imagine it.

Camlann Medieval Village has a variety of events year-round; the Mid-Lenten Feast is on March 22, the St. George Feast is on April 26, and the May Festival is on May 3 & 4.

Wing Luke doesn't stop at its front door

Patrons at War Baby / Love Child at Wing Luke Museum. Photo © Jake Kwong, 2013
Patrons at War Baby / Love Child at Wing Luke Museum. Photo © Jake Kwong, 2013
Patrons at War Baby / Love Child at Wing Luke Museum. Photo © Jake Kwong, 2013

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Kascha Snavely.

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Patrons at War Baby / Love Child at Wing Luke Museum. Photo © Jake Kwong, 2013
Patrons at War Baby / Love Child at Wing Luke Museum. Photo © Jake Kwong, 2013

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Kascha Snavely.

Wing Luke is officially the “Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.” Just as the full title is quite a mouthful, the complete mission of the museum is expansive. The museum was founded in honor of Wing Luke, a leader in the Chinese-American community of Seattle. Today, the museum has expanded from these more specific cultural roots with the intent to represent many groups living in the International District and across the Pacific Northwest. Spread across several floors and two buildings on King Street in the International District, the museum presents a range of relevant exhibits from contemporary art to detailed replicas of immigrant living quarters, to histories of conflict. During my visit the travelling exhibit War Baby / Love Child occupied the main gallery beside several rooms of permanent exhibits. The heart of the museum, however, is accessed only with a guided tour, included with all admissions: In the restored store and hotel next door, different rooms memorialize the experience of Chinese-Americans, Filipino Americans and Japanese-Americans. Over the course of an hour, a staff member led me through the narrow halls and fire-doors of the restored hotel, giving a brief history of three cycles of immigration to the US by these groups.   After the detailed tour, I wandered the permanent exhibitions with a clear historical narrative already grounding my understanding of the objects on display.

I had heard that the tours at the Wing Luke were great, but I wasn’t prepared for how engaging and detailed the hour-long tour would be. I learned more – or retained more – about Asian American immigration and Seattle’s history from her talk than I have in any history reading. She connected specific objects (a false Mason’s crest on a Chinese organization’s balcony) to specific historical moments (the prohibition years when Masonic temples escaped close scrutiny by the law). I could connect the image of a lively party with a host of dates and historical events.

I had to pull myself away from the video installations in War Baby / Love Child to get to the start of the tour. Shoes by Louie Gong caught my eyes, and an eerie video by Laurel Nakadate held my attention for half an hour. The exhibit’s narrative focused on Asian American with mixed heritage struggle to describe themselves even as the misnomers of “war babies” and “love children” fade. The work itself – rich in craft and imagery – stood on its own as good art, above and beyond a search for “identity.”

The Wing Luke literally does not stop at its front door: it extends into the renovated store and hotel next door. That building gives concrete evidence of the neighborhood’s past: Original fire doors memorialize past traumas; narrow rooms show changing living conditions; a mahjong set on an original table gives a sense of the inhabitants’ lives. For a historical museum, this is an ideal facility. This gives depth to the contemporary exhibits.

This is a text-heavy museum. Reading all the material occasionally distracted me from actually looking at the objects that really tell the story. The exhibitions themselves include complicated tombstones for each object and image.  Printed material scattered across the front desk and entry way describes many exhibits and events at the museum. The website can take a good half an hour to scan.  Only in the art exhibit did the text take second stage to the work. I learned so much from all this material, but I welcomed the break to simply see art.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10-5 pm.  The current exhibit #iconic runs through April 13; another exhibit, Grit, runs through October 17.

 

Remember Those They Hurt

The cast of Gentleman Desperado at Mary Olsen Farm.
The cast of Gentleman Desperado at Mary Olsen Farm.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Tamara Vallejos.

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The cast of Gentleman Desperado at Mary Olsen Farm.
The cast of Gentleman Desperado at Mary Olsen Farm.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Tamara Vallejos.

 

Gentlemen Desperado is a site-specific production set on the Mary Olson Farm [maintained by the White River Valley Museum]. The play, written by Keri Healey, tells the true story of bank robber Harry Tracy, beginning with his escape from prison in the 1900s and then following his extensive manhunt throughout the Pacific Northwest. During that chase, Tracy made his way to Auburn and stayed briefly at the Mary Olson Farm, where he held its residents hostage. This story takes place on actual land Tracy roamed.

After a host introduces the play to the audience just down the path from the farm’s entrance, everyone is instructed to walk up to a clearing next to the farmhouse, where “prison guards” shout at everyone to file into lines. The audience is part of the action as Tracy rushes past, kills several guards, and makes his break. From there, the audience follows the path to the next location, where they sit on benches and hay bales to watch. A unique and entertaining aspect of the production is that a folk duo walks alongside the audience between scenes, playing original music throughout the production. The actors, musicians, and audience meander through the farm as the play goes on, with it ending inside the barn.  Afterward, the audience is invited to continue exploring the farm and farmhouse to see how a family in the early 1900s lived.

Gentlemen Desperado was such a treat, for several reasons. The performances were quite good, and the actors were very enthusiastic, sprinting around the farm and swapping costumes as they swapped roles. Because we were outdoors and moving, it was important that the actors all spoke loudly and clearly, and they did. The musical accompaniment was also a huge part of what made the production successful. The folk music could stand on its own even outside the context of the play, and the rustic, vintage tunes did a very nice job of helping set the scene.

In addition to being entertaining, the piece was educational; as someone who didn’t grow up in Washington, I felt more connected to the history of the region after watching the play. It was also thought-provoking—the play ended by prompting the audience to consider why we remember criminals like Tracy, but not those they hurt. For its part, Gentlemen Desperado shared the names of all the people Tracy killed, which made for an emotional finish.

But the best part was being on the Mary Olson Farm itself. It’s very easy in 2013 to completely forget that people ever lived differently from how we do now—and not all that long ago. Being on the farm for the production helped transport me to Tracy’s era, and put into context what life was like for ordinary citizens during that time. I don’t think the effect would have been the same, or as memorable, had Gentlemen Desperado taken place in a traditional theatrical space.

The Mary Olson Farm is tucked away just down the road from the Auburn Golf Course, and isn’t too easy to spot from the main road. I spotted the farm’s free parking lot, and that’s what let me know I was in the right place, but I didn’t know where to go from there. Thankfully, an official shuttle bus soon pulled up and a very friendly driver took me to the farm. As it turns out, the entrance was just a five minute walk away, but the trail wasn’t very clearly marked.

Once inside the farm, walking paths are clearly marked and the land is well manicured and cared for. One of the highlights to the location is the farmhouse is right next to a creek full of salmon. After the production ended, many in the audience stood by the creek for a long while, watching the salmon swim upstream. The farmhouse was also open to browse after the production ended, and a guide was there to answer questions. For additional education, there were several signs throughout the farm that gave more information on its history and use.

Mary Olsen Farm is open every Saturday and Sunday, late June through August.

Another FIRST for Historic Preservation in King County

Tour of home originally designed and built by architect Arnold Gangnes © 2012, courtesy of Docomomo WEWA
Tour of home originally designed and built by architect Arnold Gangnes © 2012, courtesy of Docomomo WEWA

Announcing 4Culture’s Inaugural Preservation Sustained Support Awardees

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Announcing 4Culture’s Inaugural Preservation Sustained Support Awardees

TTour of West Seattle home originally designed and built by architect Arnold Gangnes © 2012, courtesy of Docomomo WEWA

This week the 4Culture Board formally approved funding for preservation-based organizations from around King County. Arts and Heritage groups countywide have long benefitted from 4Culture’s Sustained Support funding, which provides a predictable level of annual revenue for operations.  Now for the first time, non-profits, public development authorities, and municipal programs dedicated to preserving the built environment have been brought into the fold.

Sixteen such organizations will receive annual grants that range from $750 to $12,000.  These funds can be used for anything operational, from staff salaries, to consultant fees, to website upgrades, utilities, or rent.

Many of these organizations have been active for years, stewarding well-loved historic properties like the little Vincent Schoolhouse in the rural Snoqualmie Valley, or promoting awareness of certain property types, such as Seattle’s Olmsted Parks. Others are newer to the cultural scene, such as the very energetic Friends of Mukai Farm group on Vashon.

One highly effective, all-volunteer group that will receive support is DOCOMOMO WeWa (short for Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement, Western Washington). Every year since its founding in 1998, DOCOMOMO WeWa has offered a full slate of tours, lectures, and events that celebrate Northwest Modernist architecture and design, through education and advocacy.

Whittaker House tour attendee looking at original drawings of the residence © 2013 courtesy of Docomomo WEWA

A larger, professionally staffed organization that will receive support is SCIDpda (Seattle Chinatown/International District Preservation & Development Authority). Founded in 1977, SCIDpda plays a major role in promoting the vitality of that diverse and vibrant neighborhood.

All grantees will contract with 4Culture to provide King County citizens with clear public benefits in 2014. WELCOME to all our new Sustained Support grantees!

For a complete list of the first round of Sustained Support recipients visit the program page, and click on the “Recipients” tab.

Images: Tour of West Seattle home originally designed and built by architect Arnold Gangnes © 2012, courtesy of Docomomo WEWA; Whittaker House tour attendee looking at original drawings of the residence © 2013 courtesy of Docomomo WEWA

Wood Decks and Steel Hulls

NW Seaport
Seacraft at the NW Seaport's Classic Workboat Show. Photo by Jeff Caven.
Seacraft at the NW Seaport’s Classic Workboat Show. Photo by Jeff Caven.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Christine Palmer.

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NW Seaport
Seacraft at the NW Seaport’s Classic Workboat Show. Photo by Jeff Caven.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Christine Palmer.

A warm, sunny autumn Saturday, October 5, beckoned hundreds of families to the Historic Ships Wharf at South Lake Union Park where twelve historic vessels were berthed and available for free public boarding.  The event celebrating Seattle’s maritime heritage through its classic workboats was coordinated by the Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center’s staff and volunteers.  As they handed out the day’s program, smiling volunteers wearing distinctive Northwest Seaport T-shirts welcomed guests along the concrete wharf on the north and west sides of Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.  Events included a maritime Story Time, a tugboat technology presentation, a marine research presentation, marine music, and a noontime horn sound-off from all the vessels.  The most venerable boats on display, such as the 1889 Arthur Foss logging tugboat, the 1904 lightship Swiftsure, and the 1921 steam-powered Virginia V cruiser, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Some of the boats, such as the 1933 salmon trawler Twilight, were owned by Northwest Seaport and were in the process of restoration by their volunteer experts.  To further its grant funded program for restorations, Northwest Seaport offered many opportunities for donations at red kiosks along the wharf.  Other displayed vessels were privately owned such as the Patrón, a steel-hull tug formerly employed at Ross Lake by Seattle City Light, and the Njord fishing boat selling Loki Company salmon.  Children especially delighted in touring the retired fireboat Duwamish, formerly the pride of the Seattle Fire Department, as they were provided with plastic fire chief hats.  Their parents seemed as excited as the kids.

The Classic Workboat Show offered a unique opportunity for those interested in local maritime heritage, as well as steam and diesel engine buffs, boat restoration aficionados, and folks who just like to peek into spaces where they are not normally able to go.  It was entertaining, educational, fun, and unusual all at the same time.  Where else could anyone step onto a working tug such as the Henrietta Foss and speak with a crewmember about his life aboard?  Or chat with a uniformed City of Seattle firefighter who was bursting with pride about the accomplishments and beauty of the Duwamish as he pointed out her unique physical attributes?   Or step under the protective plastic shroud of a now rare lightship (which are no longer used for maritime guidance) to learn from a restoration expert about the authentic reconstruction of her wood deck inside her steel hull?  The speakers involved shared their enthusiasm as they made their technical presentations understandable for non-experts.

A refreshing aspect of maritime heritage is the new and prominent role of women in the maritime industry after millennia of existence as a males-only experience.  Women now participate in numerous careers among many of the sponsors of this event, and that aspect is also reflected among the female members of the Northwest Seaport governing board.

The caliber of local mariners’ commitment to this event is illustrated with this story:  Just before the federal government shutdown commenced at midnight on October 1, the staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made a special effort to work with Northwest Seaport staff to bring the John N. Cobb to a berth at the Historic Ships Wharf to be part of this event.  Built in Tacoma, the Cobb is the oldest existing wooden boat in the NOAA fleet and participated in significant scientific research programs from 1950-2008.  Her efforts were illustrated with panels on deck displaying oceanographic research, seafloor and coastal mapping, and marine life surveys.

Northwest Seaport fosters a variety of events year-round.

A Season of Holiday Shows

© 2013, A Christmas Carol, Act Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion
© 2013, A Christmas Carol, Act Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion
© 2013, A Christmas Carol, Act Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion

From the hundreds of arts organizations, groups, and individual artists that receive support from 4Culture, we have compiled this list of upcoming Holiday events taking place across King County.

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© 2013, A Christmas Carol, Act Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion
© 2013, A Christmas Carol, Act Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion

From the hundreds of arts organizations, groups, and individual artists that receive support from 4Culture, we have compiled this list of upcoming Holiday events taking place across King County.

ACT – presents two special holiday productions:  “A Christmas Carol”  in the Allen Theatre (11/29 – 12/29); and “Ham for the Holidays: Close Encounters of the Pork Rind,” an evening full of wickedly funny social satire, musical parody, and razor-sharp zingers Directed by David Koch, with D.J. Gommels and Michael Oaks. Falls Theatre (Dec 4 – 22).

 

ArtsWest Playhouse  –  “Little Women the Broadway Musical” represents for ArtsWest all that is good around the holidays:  family, love, music, laughter, tears and an uplifting of spirit. West Seattle (Nov 29 – Dec 29).

 

Boeing Employees Choir – presents, “A Holiday Celebration” a Free event accepting cash and musical instrument donations for Highline Music for Life, an initiative to expand music education in Highline Public Schools. Lake Burien Presbyterian Church (Dec 6).

 

Aunt Dottie’s Sing Along Cabaret – Aunt Dottie states, “This aint your mama’s cabaret and this ain’t your average Christmas show!” Christmastime Cabaret promises a raucous, rowdy, interactive good time with comedy, music and prizes. Family friendly/All ages at Renton Civic Theatre (Dec 22).

 

Bulgarian Culture and Heritage Center – presents “Together for Christmas” featuring international and local talent, song, dance and a community potluck dinner.  Kirkland Performance Center (Dec 22).

 

Evergreen City Balletpresents a lovely and engaging production of “The Nutcracker” both in its full-length and a shortened tot-friendly version at various locations, matinees and evening performances:

Auburn Performing Arts Center in Auburn – full production (Dec 14 & 15)

Lake Washington Performing Arts Center in Kirkland – short production (Dec 7 & 8)

Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center in Renton – full production (Dec 20 – 22)

 

Balagan Theatre – Based on the eponymous cult-hit film about a possessed turkey on a deadly mission to avenge his tortured ancestors, “Thankskilling the Musical,” is Balagan’s off-kilter answer to the traditional holiday show. Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center (Nov 29 – Dec 14).

 

Bellevue Chamber Chorus – presents “Upon a Midnight Clear,” Christmas treasures old and new, at three different venues two shows nightly:

Bothell United Methodist Church (Dec 14)

Grace Lutheran Church in Bellevue (Dec 15)

St. Lukes Lutheran Church in Bellevue (Dec 21)

 

Bells of the Sound – The Puget Sound’s premier handbell ensemble presents a program of traditional and modern holiday classics in “Making Spirits Bright,” a local tour with six performances:

Tibbetts United Methodist Church in Seattle – (Dec 13)

Fairwood Community United Methodist Church in Renton – (Dec 14)

First Congregational Church in Bellingham – (Dec 15)

St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Bellevue – (Dec 20)

Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood – (Dec 21)

Poulsbo First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo – (Dec 22)

 

Centerstage Theatre – “Aladdin” the beloved fairy tale chock full of great songs, riotously bad jokes, dastardly villains and hilarious routines–an English Holiday entertainment for all the family. Centerstage at the Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way (Fri-Sun; Nov 30 – Dec 22)

 

Choral ArtsChristmas with Choral Arts” this hour-long concert of continuous music with interludes played by classical guitarist Bob McCaffery-Lent offers a unique collage concert including chant, traditional carol settings, unaccompanied choral favorites, and new works.

Trinity Episcopal Church, Seattle – (Dec 14)

St. Joseph Parish, Seattle – (Dec 15)

 

Duvall Cultural Commission Municipal presents its “2013 Winter Solstice Concert” featuring David LaMotte. Riverview Educational Service Center in Duvall (Dec 21).

 

Federal Way Arts Commission – hosts their own WinterFest featuring Santa, a Hot Chocolate Bar, Tree lighting and performances by Federal Way Youth Symphony, Harmony Kings and Jet Cities Chorus. The Commons/Macy’s Court (Dec 7).

 

Greta Matassa – “And to All a Good Night,” Performing tunes from her holiday cd’s, Greta and her trio provide the right mood for holiday shoppers and sightseers at Pacific Place (Dec 16).

 

James Whetzel has put together a new 22 track holiday CD called “Holiday: Sarod & Beats.” Ranked in the LA Times holiday music review as one of the top three releases of the year, this album places the old Christmas standards in an entierly new light!

Kirkland Performance Center – presents “Portland Cello Project,” special guests, holiday sweaters, and plenty of cellos! (Dec 21 & 22)

 

Lake Union Civic Orchestra – A festive afternoon full of holiday music, including classic carols for a Sing-a-Long “Holiday Concert” with guest conductor, Todd Mahaffey. Town Hall Seattle (Dec 8).

 

Northwest Chamber Chorus – “Winter’s Warmth” offers a program of songs for the season, old and new. Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church, Seattle (Dec 8 & 14).

 

Northwest Boychoir and Vocalpoint! –  A Festival of Lessons & Carols by two fine Seattle-based youth choirs. Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church, Seattle (Dec 14).

 

Northwest Railway Museum – Participants of all ages enjoy riding the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad, aka, “Santa Train” from North Bend to Snoqualmie Depot to visit… Who else? Santa. (Weekends until Dec 21).

 

Pacific Northwest Ballet – A one-of-a-kind production of “The Nutcracker” choreographed by Kent Stowell, featuring 200+ dancers, gigantic moving sets by Maurice Sendak, glorious costumes, stagecraft wizardry, and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score performed live by the PNB Orchestra. McCaw Hall, Seattle (Nov 30-Dec 29).

 

Sammamish Symphony Orchestra – presentes their perennial audience pleaser, “Holiday Pops” concert. Meydenbauer Theatre, Bellevue (Dec 6).

 

Seattle Choral Company – “An Irish Christmas: Carols and Anthems from the Emerald Isle.” Experience joyous music for voices, harp, fiddle and penny whistle. Saint Mark’s Cathedral (Dec 13 & 14).

 

Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus (Flying House Productions) – “Play it Again Santa” Nostalgic carols, sing-a-longs, and spritely songs of the season come together for unmatched holiday entertainment. Benaroya Hall, Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium (Dec 8-22).

 

Seattle Public Theatre has two unique holiday productions – Joe Montello’s adaptation of The Santaland Diaries, David Sedaris’ witty and sardonic chronicle of the holiday season; and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a show 13-years strong that is a beautiful cross-pollination of their mainstage company and youth program.

 

Seattle Seachordsmen – Annual Holiday Show by one of Seattle’s oldest Barbershop choruses. Philadelphia Church, Ballard. (Dec 14).

 

Seattle Symphony Orchestra – Jeff Tyzik leads the Symphony “Home For the Holidays” with special guests in a festive collection of seasonal favorites. Benaroya Hall (Dec 5-8).

 

Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra – Holiday Jazz Concert. Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park. (Dec 14).

 

SecondStory Repertory –  “A Christmas Carol” an original adaptation rich with traditional carols, alive with color and movement, and created to appeal to people of all ages. Redmond. (Dec 6-22).

 

Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Arts Council – Holiday Spectacular! Three incredible acts hosted by comedian Jennifer Jasper. Shorecrest Performing Arts Center (Dec 1).

 

Sound Theatre Company  – A world premier comedy by Frank Lawler and Daniel Flint “Holiday of Errors (or Much Ado About Stockings)” is a merry, irreverent send-up that mashes Twelfth Night, Richard III, and A Christmas Carol with historical inaccuracies and slanderous fabrications. Center Theatre at the Seattle Center Armory (Dec 5 – 21).

 

Stone Soup Theatre –  Celebrate the joy of magic, family, and memories with two short plays for the Christmas holidays, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” & “The Long Christmas Dinner. The DownStage Theatre, Seattle (Dec 5 – 24).

 

Taproot Theatre Company –  “Le Club Noel” – Romance, political intrigue and a Joyeaux Noel … A play with music. Seattle (Nov 29 – Dec 28).

 

Theatre Off Jackson – “Xmas Carol Xperiment” STAGEright theatre is teaming up with three other companies, Confrontational Theatre Project, Lungfish Productions, and Quiet Theatre, to present this Dicken’s classic like never before. Seattle (Dec 5 – 7).

 

Twelfth Night Productions – “MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET: A Live Radio Play” based on the holiday movie favorite of the same name and presented as a live 1940’s radio broadcast. Kenyon Hall (Dec 6 – 15).

 

Unexpected Productions – Where does Scrooge work? What afflicts poor Tiny Tim? In “A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol,” the audience decides the entire story. Market Theater. Pike Place Market (Nov 29 – Dec 28).

 

Valley Center Stage – “Its a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”  transposes the cinematic classic (and holiday television tradition) to the theater by staging the story as if it was a live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience. Valley Center Stage Playhouse, North Bend (Th-Sat; Dec 5 – 21).

 

Vashon Allied Arts, Vashon Island – hosts several holiday productions for the area’s enjoyment:

The Nutcracker – Featuring dancers from VAA Center for Dance, with guests from Cornish College of the Arts and Vashon High School’s Dr. Stephen Floyd as Drosselmeyer.

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown –  adapted and directed by Marita Ericksen. (Dec 12 – 15)

A Child’s Christmas in Wales – is a dramatic adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ poetry with a cast of twelve ranging in age from ten to eighty-nine, directed by Michael Barker. (Dec 20 – 26).

 

Vashon Island Chorale – Vashon Suite – CEREMONY OF CAROLS – Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” and other holiday favorites with Juliet Stratton, harp, and Susan Telford, flute. Bethel Church, Vashon (Dec 7 & 8).

 

Wing-It Productions  – “It’s Your Wonderful Life,” a unique improv theater experience that replaces the tale of everyman, George Bailey, with the life story of a different audience volunteer every night! (Th-Sat; Dec 5 – 21).

 

5th Ave Theatre – brings the Tony-award winning classic “Oliver” back as a Seattle holiday tradition (Nov 29 – Dec 31).

From the Lightest Pianissimo to Roaring Fortissimo!

Todd Frazier of Rainier Symphony, photo by John Vicory.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Mary Sherhart.

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Todd Frazier of Rainier Symphony, photo by John Vicory.
Todd Frazier of Rainier Symphony, photo by John Vicory.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Mary Sherhart.

Rainier Symphony consistently offers high quality programs and today’s—Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet Suite No. 2 and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2—was no exception.  Their high performance standards are all the more impressive because these are not professional musicians, but come from all different walks of life and professions, ranging in age from mid-20’s to senior citizens.  They obviously take it very seriously and devote great time to create a professional-level performance.

There were some standout solos, namely a saxophonist in the Prokofiev and a piccolo player who held a long totally straight tone in one passage and on another a trill effect; both were simply perfect.  Concertmaster Ilkka Talvi’s gorgeous tone shone through on several solos.  How lucky for Rainier Symphony to have him.  Conductor David Waltman cuts an impressive figure on the podium with his ramrod straight posture emphasized by elegant long-tailed tuxedo on his very tall frame.  He is a fine conductor giving the players the direction they need when they need it, and in no way drawing undue attention to himself.  He moves easily and gracefully from small efficient movements to lush expressive passages.  Mr. Waltman’s command of dynamics from the lightest pianissimo to roaring fortissimo was outstanding.  His comments to start the second half were funny and put the audience at ease.

The Foster Performing Arts Center has plenty of parking and a nice large lobby for mingling…and they did.  This is definitely a community gathering.  The theater seems to be made for Rainier Symphony.   The stage holds them and the acoustic shells in a picture perfect classical orchestra scene.  Perhaps the players may feel a little cramped for space, but from the audience perspective they looked and sounded brilliant.

I would estimate about half of the audience were senior citizens.  The other half represented a wide range of ages, with plenty of families and children in attendance.  The concert being held in a high school in the afternoon at very affordable prices ($15 general; $10 students/seniors, kids 12 under free) mean the atmosphere is less formal than, say, Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall.  Of course, with that you get people going in and out in the middle of pieces, cellophane candy wrapper noise, fidgety kids, etc.  That’s the beauty of it, though.  Real people who may not feel comfortable driving downtown, paying for parking, keeping kids quiet or who may feel intimidated, can come hear a fine orchestra in a comfortable environment.

Knowing how extremely diverse the Tukwila population is, I would have liked to see more of that diversity reflected in the audience.  Perhaps efforts have already been made to work with community organizations to bring in Somali, Bosnian, Hispanic, etc., groups to see the concert.  I also wondered whether Rainier Symphony ever plays concerts for school assemblies at Foster High School or offers tickets to students there.  If not, this seems like a great way to share classical music in Tukwila.

Rainier Symphony‘s next performance is their Holiday Concert on Dec 13.

Living Up to Its Name

An archival photo of loggers from Photo Center NW.
An archival photo of loggers from Photo Center NW.
An archival photo of loggers from Photo Center NW.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Kascha Snavely.

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An archival photo of loggers from Photo Center NW.
An archival photo of loggers from Photo Center NW.

Through the On-Site Review program, 4Culture evaluates arts and heritage organizations who receive Sustained Support funding. On-Site Reviewers attend events produced or presented by recipients and write up short reviews, which give the adjudicating Sustained Support panelists a patron’s-eye-view of each organization.  Each month, the 4Culture blog presents excerpts from these reviews.  This month’s review is by Kascha Snavely.

Photo Center Northwest has on display a show appropriate to its name: a collection of photos by and of Northwesterners. This free gallery fills the entrance of the Center, which also offers classes, workshops and other events.  Quiet signage indicates the theme of each wall: “Practices,” “Portraits,” etc.  The current show includes images by contemporary Northwesterners such as Susie J. Lee and Matika Wilbur, as well as Northwestern photographic pioneers like Asahel and Edward S. Curtis. Photographers captured images of well-known residents and visitors to the area: from contemporary and antiquated pictures of Duwamish and Swinomish tribes members to shots of Jimi Hendrix or R.E.M. on tour in the 1990s and the so-called Seattle Tubing Society. Some of the photos are “fine art” and others are evidence of photography used to document the history of the Northwest. The curators selected work by a number of artists who have shown with PCNW in the past, interlacing the institution’s and the area’s pasts.

The title of the show does not do justice to the intrigue of these pictures. I expected to scan over images of the Northwest and instead looked slowly, caught up in the portraits and peculiar historical moments called up by the photos. Moreover, given that all the work is in one medium, this show was very diverse, both in image and technique. The pieces ranged from video stills to Photoshopped inkjets to antique photographs.

By dividing the small space with partial walls, the exhibit designers created a good amount of wall space to accommodate many pieces in a moderately sized room. Occasionally, I wished for more space around individual images so that I could contemplate them in isolation rather than in conjunction with surrounding images.

The Center is so close to buildings on Seattle University’s campus that I wonder if passers-by don’t confuse it with some part of the University.  That this is a free gallery is such a gift. It is small, but worth a trip, perhaps on a lunch break or date night in Capitol Hill – they’re open late!

Photo Center Northwest is at 900 12th Ave, Seattle, WA.  The current exhibition, NW Focus, runs through Oct 16.

Enrolled in StEPs?

These online AASLH Online Training course and webinars are designed to help institutions achieve standards and performance indicators as part of AASLH’s StEPs Program:

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These online AASLH Online Training course and webinars are designed to help institutions achieve standards and performance indicators as part of AASLH’s StEPs Program:

The Basics of Archives   October 21 – November 15, 2013
Proceed at your own pace through this online workshop covering the basics of archive management and practices.

Project Management for History Professionals   October 28 – November 22, 2013
This ten-module online course improves how history museum operate and serve their community by teaching Project Management to history professionals. Improve your everyday work process in exhibitions, programming, fundraising, special events, outreach, and collections care.

Are You Ready for Volunteers?   October 16, 2013
Many volunteer programs have existed with little or no formal processes and assessments in place. Often, there is no paid staff member who manages the volunteer program. The result is that the programs are often not well run, translating into high volunteer turnover, anemic buy-in from the organization’s management and staff, and ultimately, low program success. This webinar will address how to plan for a volunteer program at your history organization or how to improve the program that you currently have.

Developing a Successful Volunteer Recruitment Program   October 18, 2013
We know having volunteers in the wings who can give eight hours a day is no longer the case. Recruitment is a process that enables the selection of the right people for the right task. Recruitment is understanding the environment where people want to volunteer and the time they have to give. That is what this webinar is about, so sign up now.

To sign up for these separate workshops, or for more information, including costs, click on the links above or visit AASLH’s workshop page. Note: if you are enrolled in StEPs, then you can access these workshops at the member price.

Innovation at MOHAI

Bezos Center for Innovation, Rendering © 2013, courtesy of Museum of History & Industry

A Destination Industry site

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A Destination Industry site

Bezos Center for Innovation, Rendering © 2013, courtesy of Museum of History & Industry

Happening in October at MOHAI: Grand opening of the all-new Bezos Center for Innovation, an exciting new area where visitors explore the powerful story of innovation in Seattle, and young people discover the creative genius within themselves. Featuring interactive experiences and special insights from some of Seattle’s leading-edge innovators, this is the place to discover the past and future of creativity and invention in our region.

Join MOHAI on Saturday, October 12, 2013 beginning at 10:00am for a community celebration of the Bezos Center for Innovation. Throughout the day there will be special activities for all ages including presentations from local innovators and the debut of new innovation-themed family programming. Special activities throughout the day include curator tours from video producer Hanson Hosein and UW professor Margaret O’Mara, performances by musician Paul Rucker and circus performers The Acrobatic Conundrum, presentations by innovators like computer scientist Shwetak Patel, columnist Monica Guzman, and grassroots organization Skate Like a Girl, and 3D printing demonstrations with Makerhaus. For more information visit www.mohai.org/visit-us/mohai-calendar.

Image: Bezos Center for Innovation, rendering © 2013, courtesy of Museum of History & Industry