From the Volunteer Park Trust
The Volunteer Park Amphitheater is about to undergo a major transformation. By next summer, the park will have a new venue with a roof, new restrooms, and many amenities for performers and performances. Funded by hundreds of donations from community members and public funding for arts and recreation projects, the new amphitheater is this generation’s contribution to the historic and beloved park.
Over the past five years, the Volunteer Park Trust has led the effort to assess the existing structure, gather community input, and raise funds to design and construct the new amphitheater. Read below for more information about project.
Why is Seattle Parks and Recreation replacing the Amphitheater in Volunteer Park now, at a time when there are so many social and economic concerns?
The short answer is that the existing stage doesn’t work for the community, and Volunteer Park Trust raised over 99% of the needed funds before the pandemic struck, starting in 2015 and engaging years of extensive outreach to the community.
The Volunteer Park Amphitheater is an important community resource for everyone. Anyone may attend for free more than 50 events produced here each year, such as hip hop and world music concerts, Shakespeare in the Park, children’s theater, the Pride Festival, social justice rallies, and dozens of other celebrations and performances.
But the stage itself is crumbling and outdated. Among its many problems, there is inadequate wheelchair access, no place to change into costumes, and no storage for props. The poor acoustics, lack of lighting, and concrete floor limit what kinds of shows can be held here. With no protection from Seattle’s rainy weather, the stage sits empty and useless most of the year. Its aging restrooms are such a nightmare that they remain locked year-round unless performers pay to have them opened.
The new Amphitheater will fix all of these problems, with:
• Full ADA access for performers and audience members
• Clean, safe, all-gender restrooms open year-round
• Covered, open space that can be used during rainy weather
• Storage, dressing room space, and a loading dock
• Lighting, improved acoustics, a resilient stage floor, and more
No longer will performers have to pay extra costs to bring in tents, canopies, and sound rigging, or to simply open the restrooms. The new Amphitheater will be better, but not bigger, occupying about the same footprint as the existing stage.
Volunteer Park Trust worked with over 30 performance and community groups to create a design that meets the broadest needs. We listened to park goers like you, as well as neighbors, community organizers, and members of the general public.
Letters of support from 20 neighborhood groups and data on park use show that our Amphitheater is valued and used by people throughout Seattle and beyond, including by our neighbors in the Central District, Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill and the International District.
Best of all, no funds are being taken away from important COVID-19 resources. Volunteer Park Trust raised the funds from private donations, district-specific State allocations, and public grants specifically for parks and arts facilities.
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