It’s only been a month since Velocity Dance Center officially opened the V2 “temporary arts space” in the old Value Village building on 11th Ave, and the new residents have already churned out an impressive display of creativity.
“It’s exciting what’s already happened,” said Tonya Lockyer, Velocity’s artistic director and former executive director. “And only more is in store.”
Since Value Village departed from the auto row-era Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building on 11th and E Pine last year, Legacy Commercial’s plans for a mixed-use development on the site have been significantly slowed due to a landmark protections decision. While the project gets sorted out, the 12th Ave dance studio signed a six-month, below market-rate lease with Legacy in February and opened V2 in early March.
Initiated by the Capitol Hill Arts District, and propped up by a $20,000 grant from the city’s Office of Arts and Culture, the 30,000-square-foot space is being put to use for dance performance, offices, rental studios, and storage. It is also home to the event company One Reel, which will be staging its Bumbershoot operations out of V2 this year.
Lockyer says it’s been a “fast turn around” to get V2 up and running and there is still a lot of work to be done, including painting the walls and getting city permits for public events. Even so, Velocity has already hosted visual artists, dancers, and choreographers through their in-house residency program, which allows residents to work out of V2 for free or at highly subsidized rents.
Residents have included local dance choreographer Kate Wallich, who recently sold-out Seattle’s Moore Theatre with her one-time show Industrial Ballet — Velocity’s largest production to date. Dance choreographer Alice Gostia worked in the space as she gears up for of a large production at the Seattle waterfront this summer and Seattle-based drag queen and dancer Cherdonna Shinatra collaborated with local street artist 179 to do a mural in V2.
“Painters usually have a studio where they can stay in and work out of. For dancers, that doesn’t happen very often,” said Lockyer. “This means they can set up shop, they can bring in musicians and rehearse at full volume. It means that they can make a creative home here.”
Saint Genet, an artistic environmental installation group, is also working out of V2 on a new production ahead of a European tour.
But V2 isn’t limited to just fostering the long-term work of its residents. Studios and common spaces are available for hourly rentals, too. There is also storage space in what used to be the basement of Value Village, where furniture and ancient electronics were once housed.
“Anybody can apply if they just want to use the space for a couple hours,” Lockyer said. “If somebody just wants to rent the space for a video shoot or a rehearsal, or they just need a small gathering, (they should apply).”
V2 is also looking for volunteers, especially those interested in adding some color to the walls. “Paint With Kate” will be a public event on
May 30th April 30th where participants will paint V2’s walls alongside Wallich.
V2 organizers are keeping their next big project under wraps for the time being. V2 will be holding an official soft opening for the public in June, as well as other in-house performances which will be open to the public.
V2 also represents a potential blueprint for Velocity in setting up satellite arts spaces around the city, as opposed to investing in one big dance center. A recent survey of Velocity stakeholders found overwhelming support for such satellite spaces.
Though V2 was dubbed a temporary arts space, Lockyer said Velocity plans to renew their lease once it’s up later this year. “Legacy is moving forward on wanting to develop the (building) and we will be in this space until they get approval to take the next step,” she said.
The collaboration is a promising sign in a city which has traditionally thought of artists and developers as adversaries. “It’s really exciting for the (arts) district to being able to connect arts organization with the developers,” she said. “It could be a big win for the city, bringing artists together with developers.”