Reopening: Live theater during a pandemic — Some turning to live-stream, others on pause

1984 at 18th and Union (Image: 18th and Union Theater)

When the pandemic shuttered Seattle’s theaters and playhouses in March, the Central District’s 18th & Union was in the middle of an adaption of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” By the third week of production, it became clear the venue had to close.

“I think we were lucky that we at least got three solid weekends in before closing,” actor K. Brian Neel said. “I know a lot of theater artists who had to close shows right before opening or right towards the end of the rehearsal process and that would’ve been frustrating.”

According to state reopening guidelines, live entertainment falls under Phase 4 — the final stage — and King County has lingered in Phase 2 for over a month now. As cases rise across the county and Washington rolls back phased reopening, theater companies and accompanying venues are tasked with adapting live theater to an online format or staying closed indefinitely.

And for those planning to reopen in some capacity with live actors, performances will look markedly different.

Theaters reopening or not?
18th & Union is planning to live stream shows out of its space this fall with up to two cast members six feet apart. Producing director David Gassner says the venue has multiple shows — yet to be announced — lined up for September, and the studio is setting up with cameras and other necessary equipment.

“There won’t be any stage combat, there won’t be any kissing, there won’t be any touching — so we’re having to choose the kind of shows that we present knowing that those are the constraints,” Gassner said. Continue reading

Seattle moving on COVID-19 economic relief including eviction ban for small biz, nonprofits, and arts orgs

The City of Seattle is moving forward on some key initiatives including a ban on commercial evictions to support restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, nonprofits, and arts organizations paralyzed by the social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Wednesday, Mayor Jenny Durkan is expected to sign an emergency order “prohibiting the eviction of small businesses and non-profits during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” Seattle City Council Insight reports. Among its restrictions, the order will prohibit “the eviction of a small business or nonprofit tenant for non-payment of rent or because an existing lease terminated during the civil emergency period.” A small business will be defined as a business with 50 of fewer employees “per establishment or premises.”

The move follows a similar ban on residential evictions in the city.

Tuesday, Durkan announced a $1.1 Million Arts Recovery Package to “support creative workers and arts and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19.” Continue reading

Construction of $3M Volunteer Park amphitheater project planned for late summer start

Construction is planned to start in August on the project to replace Volunteer Park’s amphitheater.

The Volunteer Park Trust tells CHS the planned August start will allow community groups to use the stage through most of summer. Work was originally being planned to begin this month. “By starting in August, we will be able to maximize use of both the old stage this summer and the new Amphitheater for next season,” a VPT representative said. Continue reading

‘A medical use’ — First Hill’s Museum of Museums arts venue hits city permitting snag

(Image: MoM Seattle)

As a classic Capitol Hill arts venue returns to service this weekend, a new venue being shaped out the medical office-filled landscape of First Hill won’t make its planned February debut.

The Museum of Museums project set to repurpose an unused Swedish Health Services office building on First Hill at Boylston and Broadway has hit a permitting snag with the city, the project’s backer Greg Lundgren announced earlier this week:

Due to some late in the game zoning issues on our top floor, we have no choice but to postpone our planned February opening. We are working with the city to find a path forward, and expect to resolve this issue soon. We sincerely apologize to the artists of our first exhibits and supporters of MoM, but please know we are doing everything we can to make MoM awesome and open.

Continue reading

‘Last vestiges’ — Fred Capitol Hill art space to close

Citing raised rent, and an uncertain future with new property owners, Fred will close its doors March 8. (Image: Bruce Dugdale)

The Capitol Hill venue born as Fred Wildlife Refuge has announced it will be closing in March

“We’re basically priced out. We had no way of making it make financial sense,” said owner Chris Pink in the announcement made Friday.

The two-story event space is a center for art, performance, and LGBTQ+ happenings and has held a unique space among the bars and clubs on the Hill, mainly because it was neither of those.

Kaleb Dameron, Fred’s event coordinator and the founder and creative director of Beauty Boiz said it was that power as an other space that mattered most. Continue reading

Another World Is Possible! WTO +20 and the Justice Movements of Today

Today in Seattle and around the world, social movements are taking to the streets, striking, locking down, and engaging in multiple forms of direct action. These tactics build collective power to transform the intersecting crises of our times into opportunities for equity, healing, and sustainability. In 1919 over 65,000 workers with held their labor during the Seattle General Strike. In 1999 over 50,000 people took to the streets of Seattle and shut down the World Trade Organization’s conference.

Now 20 years later we gather to honor this history, and the power of non-violent direct action, through story-telling, trainings, and movement-building workshops, to make another world possible. Activists who were part of the mobilization share stories and lessons learned from the people’s movement which made history by successfully preventing the WTO—one of capitalism’s most powerful global institutions—from further consolidating its power. Hear from leaders of today’s movements for justice, from Washington farmworkers to global alliances. Join the WTO+20 gathering for hands-on direct action training, arts workshops, story-telling, and opportunities to plug into local organizing.

Program will include:

10:00 – 10:30

10:30 – 12:00
Dialogue on the significance of the 1999 WTO protests, and stories of direct action, from 1999 to today, with:

Ramon Torres & Edgar Franks, Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Paul Cheoketen Wagner, Founder of Protectors of the Salish Sea
Nancy Haque, Labor/Direct Action Network organizer in ’99, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon
Maru Mora Villalpando, Founder of La Resistencia (NW Detention Center Resistance) and Latino Advocacy
Lisa Fithian, Author of Shut It Down: Stories from a Fierce, Loving Resistance

12:00 – 12:45

12:45 – 3:45
Training and Movement-Building Workshops (Simultaneous)

Training Workshops:
Escalating Resistance, Mass Rebellion Training with Lisa Fithian
Screen-printing with David Solnit, Direct Action Network organizer in ’99, North American Arts Organizer,

Movement-Building workshops:
Seattle’s Green New Deal with Matt Remle (Lakota) Co-founder of Mazaska Talks, and Alec Connon, 350Seattle
Campaign to permanently shut down the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, with La Resistencia

3:45 – 4:00 

4:00 – 5:00 

Co-Sponsors: 350Seattle, Earth Care not Warfare, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, Health Alliance International, LELO, Mazaska Talks, PSARA, Puget Sound Sage, Seattle Education Association, SEIU 925, Sunrise Movement Seattle, Tools for Change, US Women and Cuba Collaboration, WA Fair Trade Coalition

Community Partners: Community to Community Development, EarthCorps, JUUstice Washington, UW Geography, Village Volunteers

Presented by Town Hall Seattle, Community Alliance for Global Justice, & UFCW 21.

On the List | Volunteer Park Halloween Pet Parade, Boys in Trouble dance, Iceland invades Liberty

Spooky season is upon us, so get ready for some eerie events on Capitol Hill (and Hilloween, which is back this year). Lusio Lights festival in Volunteer Park also makes an October appearance, though the light art installations and party amidst the tropical and other plants are more festive than frightening.

Next Monday at Pettirosso, The Traveling Chef Josh Ploeg cooks up a 4-course meal that must scare some meat and egg-lovers to death: it’s completely vegan. Dishes include “The Vampire’s Garden” salad with beet and tomato “aspic” dome, red pickles, black mushrooms and greens, a “Broomstick, Moonstick, Wrapped in Gloom Thick” pastry-wrapped yellow squash with mushroom gravy, as well as “A Ghast, A Ghoul, A Grave So Cruel” dark chocolate almond cake.

For what to do in the meantime, check out the events below or take a look at the CHS calendar.

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 16: Perhaps you haven’t heard of Knife Knights yet, but maybe, just maybe, you’ve heard of a band called Shabazz Palaces? 1/2 of the group, Ishmael Butler, teams up with Shabazz Palaces’ engineer Erik Blood under the Knife Knight umbrella. The result is ambitiously and unpredictably experimental music they describe as “soul and shoegaze, hip-hop and lush noise, bass, and bedlam.” For their Earshot Jazz Festival performance, the duo will be joined by KEXP DJ Stas Thee Boss and alto-sax expansionist Darius Jones. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 7.30 PM – 10 PM  Continue reading

‘Emergency fundraising’ — Velocity Dance Center’s future on the Hill up in the air

(Image: Velocity Dance Center)

“Seattle’s home for dance” is in trouble. The 23-year old Velocity Dance Center says it needs emergency funds to avoid ending its year in the red and in uncertainty of whether it can keep its 12th Avenue space. Velocity says rising rents and increasing costs of operating in Seattle have made its current financial model unsustainable.

“It is an emergency,” said Catherine Nueva España, Velocity’s executive director.

During a “Community Forum” in the main performance studio of the center’s 12th Ave space on Tuesday, Velocity’s leadership answered questions from fifteen or so supporters. They also tried to galvanize them to rally support for its “Save Our Studio” campaign.

“We’re trying to raise $120,000 by the end of the year so that we can afford to stay in our space and to stabilize moving forward,” Colleen Borst, Velocity’s development director, told CHS.  Continue reading

Ready for big decisions on center’s future on Capitol Hill, Velocity Dance names new executive director

(Image: Ron Rogers/Velocity Dance Center)

Catherine Nueva España (Image: Timothy Mowrer)

Catherine Nueva España is the new executive director of Velocity Dance Center. Nueva España, a Seattle-based nonprofit consultant, dancer, and teacher, has been chosen to fill the shoes of Tonya Lockyer, who departed Velocity after 16 years with the organization.

Former associate producer Erin Johnson, who has taken on the role of interim artistic director in December, will oversee programming in 2019 as Velocity “explores different options for how to fill the role of artistic director in the future.”

Nueva España will start on February 19th. She comes to Velocity from local nonprofit 501 Commons, where she served as the program manager for arts and development and consulted with arts organizations and nonprofits to streamline and stabilize operations. Continue reading

Capitol Hill arts group launches ‘phone book’ with over 500 local artists

Carolyn Hitt’s high school years are far behind her. And yet she cannot wait to get her yearbook signed this Tuesday. This time around, though, it is actually her yearbook. As in: she’s created it. In it are not her classmates, but over 500 black-and-white headshots and social media handles of Seattle artists, chefs, curators and creatives from all mediums. The book, a creative “phone book” for the city will be officially released this Tuesday during The Relevant Unknowns: 2018 Yearbook Release Party at Fred Wildlife Refuge (Free, 21+).

“My goal is to connect artists in the city,” Hitt said. “There are so many pockets of communities. Those pockets make us insular. How do we connect beyond that?” Continue reading