Exit Interview: Velocity Dance’s Tonya Lockyer on 16 years in the arts on Capitol Hill

Tonya Lockyer (Image: Bettina Hansen with permission to CHS)

Tonya Lockyer began as a touring artist and educator, eventually finding her roots in Seattle after joining Velocity Dance Center as an artist and completing graduate school at the University of Washington. She went on to be Velocity’s programs and communications manager, and eventually its executive director.

In June, Lockyer announced she will be stepping down from her post this fall after 16 years with the organization.

Entering Velocity in a time of instability, debt, and amid an emergency capital campaign, Lockyer implemented operational and artistic direction and, in just two years, had Velocity operating in the black.

With accolades like the Mayor’s Artz Award, Tonya’s tenure has brought national visibility to the dance center and its residents, acting as the “portal to Seattle dance,” and a destination for touring choreographers. Her leadership influenced exceptional growth in audiences and artist residencies, with consistently sold-out community events and classes.

CHS spoke with Lockyer about how she got involved with Velocity and Seattle’s dance scene, her proudest moments as Artistic Executive Director, the importance of dance for our community, and what’s next for her.

How did you get involved with Velocity?: When I first moved to Seattle, I was teaching and I ran into a Seattle choreographer and said that I was moving to Seattle. She said, “Seattle is great, and my friend KT Niehoff needs someone to stay in her house!” So the very first place I ever lived was in the home of the co-founder of Velocity, KT Niehoff. Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum performance art will explore dance, taxidermy, and 12th Ave history

(Image: Bret Doss with permission to CHS)

Earlier this year, CHS told you about the coming departure of Northwest Film Forum executive director Courtney Sheehan from the Capitol Hill nonprofit and the continuation of her work to transition the organization beyond the screen with events, speakers, and gatherings. Later this month, the final NWFF event before Sheehan makes her exit will be a showcase of the organization’s most important qualities.

What is Home will be “a participatory experience” that encompasses “movement installations, interactive exhibits, dance films, and a layered dance theater performance.”

“The work has many points of entry for both film and dance audiences, with a central question about home, belonging and change that will resonate with all walks of Seattle life,” Sheehan tells CHS. “There will be a lot of history of Capitol Hill and specifically the NWFF building woven into the piece.”

CHS talked with the show’s Christin Call of Coriolis Dance to discuss the inspiration behind What is Home, and the place performance art has in communities like Capitol Hill. Call explores the lessons from the “booms” and “crashes” in life, and the importance and meaning of “home.” Call also has plenty to say about the history of Capitol Hill, the current scope of a booming city, and what we can take away from performance art and stories from our communities in how we live day-to-day.

You describe What Is Home as a participatory experience,” “absurdly imaginary,” and “ridiculously ornate.” What does it all mean? It is a multimedia piece, with installation, with film, with live performance, and it is designed to be an event that immerses the audience. Pulling from a lot of resources is why it is ornate. This comes from the idea that we can’t help but to do that, to create, psychologically, these super intricate webs of relations between ourselves and how we fit into this web, and we just do it naturally. We don’t really have to try, sometimes, to dismantle these types of things. Continue reading

King County votes for new oversight for construction-fueled 4Culture cash

The King County Council voted Monday to adopt “targeted oversight” of 4Culture, the county’s cash flush “cultural funding agency.”

“4Culture would still be responsible for the fiscal management of the agency such as approving contracts, large expenditures, grant awards, and adopting a budget prior to Council review,” an announcement from the council read Monday following the vote. “The legislation makes the Council responsible for approving 4Culture’s budget prior to the County transferring funds to 4Culture for the following year.”

CHS reported here on the so-called accountability measures some on the council have pushed for as 4Culture’s funding from the county’s lodging tax and “1% for art” program has grown.

Monday’s vote set off a stream of press releases from the council’s communications office as vying factions sought to make it clear that the vote was not unanimous:

Due to the “super majority” vote for the plan, it is unlikely King County Executive Dow Constantine to can veto the new oversight legislation, KUOW reports.

 

CHS Pics | Poetry on the First Hill Streetcar

Sunday, riders on the First Hill Streetcar found some new voices joining the automated messages about upcoming stops and reminders to hold the handrail.

A special Lunar New Year edition of King County Metro’s Poetry on Buses program brought “Asian and American Asian local aspiring poets” to the streetcar route connecting Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square via the International District.

The program has placed more than 350 poems on buses and streetcars, Metro says.

Thanks to interruptions by each announcement of an upcoming stop, arriving at the stop, next stop, and a stop requested, Sunday’s readings had their own peculiar rhythm that was just odd enough to be appropriate for the First Hill Streetcar which has suffered indignities from construction delays, to a sliding incident after losing braking power, to ongoing jokes about the route’s slow performance as it shares lanes with motor vehicle traffic.

Still, the route presents an alternative way to visit Chinatown and the ID — if you aren’t in too much of a hurry. Continue reading

Tim Lennon and LANGSTON plot cultural survival in the Central District

Sitting at a conference table in the empty upstairs offices of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute on an overcast morning, Tim Lennon breaks down the importance of Black cultural institutions for Black artists living in a 70% white city.

“In Seattle, Black folks are constantly having to moderate our stories to fit into white spaces,” he says. “To get really vulnerable, to open up your own experience to an audience built of your own community—there’s less to explain. They get it.”

Lennon’s job, ultimately, is to fill this 102-year-old building with audiences, artists, and teachers who get it. He’s the first executive director of LANGSTON, a non-profit arts organization formed to reinvigorate the historic purpose of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute as a nexus for Black culture in a neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification and displacement. Continue reading

With program growing by the millions, King County Council plans 4Culture ‘accountability measures’

You’ll find 4Culture at the core of many arts events and activities that CHS has covered over the years. It usually goes something like this, somewhere near the end of the story: “Funding for the event comes from King County’s 4Culture…” — sometimes the sentence continues with other funding sources. Often, it does not. Now, a public cry for help from a group of arts and 4Culture advocates has raised concerns about the future of King County’s “cultural funding agency.” Officials say the concern about a newly proposed ordinance is overblown.

Here’s the gist from the advocate site, advocate4culture.org:

The proposed ordinance allows council members
  • To veto the 4Culture budget, which determines funding for arts, heritage, preservation, and public arts
  • To hire and fire the 4Culture Executive Director
  • To nominate and directly appoint the majority of 4Culture board members without consultation
4Culture strives to distribute funds in the most strategic, meritorious, and equitable way possible, while acknowledging that improvements can always be made. The dismantling of 4Culture is not the best path toward progress, nor is it in the best interest of King County’s cultural and artistic health. We understand that 4Culture has always welcomed the chance to work with the King County Council to address its concerns. But this work must be undertaken with a shared understanding and appreciation of the effectiveness and efficiency that has defined 4Culture’s legacy over the past 15 years.

You can read the proposed ordinance here.

King County Council member Dave Upthegrove, one of six on the council listed as sponsors of the legislation, tried to address the concerns in a social media post: Continue reading

Design review: Pratt Fine Arts Center development in the CD, ‘upscale’ small efficiency project on Capitol Hill

A development set to create market-rate housing and reshape a key block of Central District arts and culture and a project that proves Capitol Hill microhousing is not dead will both take their debut bows in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

1900 S Jackson
The plan announced in spring to create a full-block expansion of the Pratt Fine Arts Center in conjunction with a six-story, 160-unit mixed-use will move forward Wednesday night as developer Daniels Real Estate brings its proposal up for early design guidance.

CHS reported in April on the Pratt project as the Central District cultural center that serves more than 4,000 art students a year marked its 40th anniversary by announcing the venture with Daniels Real Estate. The art center today has 19,000 square feet of studio space in its two existing buildings, which will remain open during the expansion. The expansion will grow the campus by adding 75% of the block between S Jackson and S Main and 19th and 20th Aves. Underground parking will have space for 100 cars. Continue reading

New medallions mark Capitol Hill Arts District bastions of ‘art, cinema, music, books, theater’

They’re symbols, sure, but you can also think of them as good user interface design. New Capitol Hill Arts District medallions are being installed across the neighborhood to help identify the 40 or so cultural and arts spaces part of the district.

“The medallions are a low-tech complement to the Arts District website, Facebook page, and the dozens of online event calendars,” Michael Seiwerath of Capitol Hill Housing tells CHS about the new additions to the neighborhood streetscape. “On a Saturday night, Pike/Pine can attract more people than Key Arena, so it’s a good marker for the thousands of people who visit the neighborhood each week.” Continue reading

From creator of Roq La Rue, Creatura House comes home to E Pike

Back from trips abroad and creating a nonprofit, Kirsten Anderson is again starting up an art gallery, but this time it’s intertwined with retail and, in a twist for the traveler, home.

Anderson founded art gallery Roq La Rue in 1998 and ran the space until it shuttered last year. It had a successful run, eventually, profits began to fall and Anderson felt burnt out on the arts scene.

“I thought this was a good time to step out and explore other things I want to do,” she said. Anderson spent her time exploring other countries as she raised money for her nonprofit. “I really missed having a space here in Seattle, being a part of the community. I had really gotten into home decor, and pulled in fine arts.”

Creatura House will be a home decor shop mingled with select art. The products will not be mass produced. To reside at 705 E Pike next to Babeland and Honeyhole, the shop opens December 8th with artist Peter Ferguson’s series of new paintings for his exhibition “I’ll Line My Nest With Your Bones.”

UPDATE: The grand opening is planned for December 15th:

Creatura House grand opening

Skate style shop Alive and Well will be making way for the new venture.

The arts business, for a while, wasn’t something Anderson thought she’d get back into.

“Artwork has changed so much and mid level galleries have been blown out,” she said. Anderson fiddles with one of the many rings on her tattooed fingers. They’re delicate tattoos, like dots and arrows. Larger tattoos decorated her arms and her earrings sparkled green and maroon beneath her black hair. Her subdued and darker style matched that of her artistic interests.

“I’m really into anything that’s dark and beautiful, not necessarily macabre, but I appreciate dark things as well,” Anderson said. “I’m completely driven by aesthetics, my whole life. I have made a living selling beautiful things to people. I like to make environments that are beautiful for people.”

She said she likes to straddle the line between absolutely beautiful and somewhat grotesque. Anderson pictures Creatura House warm, beautiful, and with a decayed opulence. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Be Bop Bars installation finds temporary home in Capitol Hill Housing’s 12th Ave Arts

12th Ave Arts played host to a unique musical experience during Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Art Walk. The “Be Bop Bars,” designed by Encore Architects in collaboration with JazzED, is an “interactive musical experience powered by people!” designed for the musician in all of us. A safe, low-voltage electric circuit completed by human touch, helps create a melody as you move from bar to bar. Continue reading