A capacity crowd of participants, presenters and public officials responded Monday night to the Edmonds Arts Commission (EAC) call for a mini arts summit.
Meeting in the Plaza Room of the Edmonds Library, over 60 residents conferred to discuss the headway made in the Community Cultural Plan of 2014 and to view what’s on the horizon for the arts scene in Edmonds.
City Arts and Culture Manager Frances Chapin guided the meeting and welcomed Mayor Dave Earling to the podium. In his remarks, Earling noted that “the arts community has accelerated the pace” over the past two years for Edmonds becoming known as an arts community. Crediting the contributions of the many arts venues and performances, the mayor noted that in the past two years, sales tax revenue has noticeably increased and that “all of those dollars help us as a city.”
Earling went on to encourage those gathered to work together to define a message and encourage a diverse representation of the arts to our community. “Think big, think broad,” was his challenge as the mini summit got underway with an update by Chapin of the progress made since the 2013 Arts Summit, where “prosperity” was the backdrop theme.
Chapin characterized the mini arts summit as “a way station to the next (full) arts summit” noting that during the last two years there has been “amazing energy from arts community participants” to implement the ideas generated at the 2013 Summit.
A slide show produced by Dawn and Darlene McLellan of the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation kicked off the presentation portion of the program with an impressive visual display and a background of “jaunty music” featuring Edmonds’ art festivals, parades, performing arts, outdoor stages, and theatre productions.
The five arts-related work groups established during the 2013 Arts Summit gave the following progress reports to the assembled arts community stakeholders:
Space for Arts and Culture
Joe McIalwain, Edmonds Center for the Arts Executive Director, gave an assessment of the public and private arts space available to the city, noting the city’s and arts community’s milestones of the remodeled Edmonds Historical Museum, the public arts spaces built in to Swedish/Edmonds, renovation of Old Milltown into the Hazel Miller Plaza and stage and the artworks included in the Five Corners Roundabout project, among other projects.
On the horizon for the city in the way of arts spaces are the Cascadia Art Museum; the remodel of the South Snohomish Senior Center, which will include public art space; an upgrade of the amphitheater at the Frances Anderson Center, and completion of the Dayton Street Plaza.
Programs and possibilities noted by McIalwain included Art Walk Edmonds, EPIC group writers, and an expansion of “On The Fence” art installations.
Darlene McLellan gave an update on the 4th Avenue Arts Corridor project, noting the selection of Iole Alessandrini’s “Luminous Forest” as the interim arts installation, which will feature solar-powered illuminating LED disc displays that will lead pedestrians from the Edmonds Center for the Arts to downtown Edmonds. The dedication of Alessandrini’s installation is scheduled for October.
Providing an update for the communications work group were Samantha Saether (Edmonds Arts Commission), and Cindy Cruz (Edmonds’ Economic Development), who invite all to the Visit Edmonds website. Leading contributors to the website design were Phill Butler (visionSynergy) and Josephine Lloyd (first president of Edmonds In Bloom, and community activist).
Going forward, communications work group members seek to engage local organizations, event sponsors and representatives of entertainment venues to participate in further development of the community calendar and “Visit Edmonds” website.
Program and Events
“Sustaining successful events, nurturing new events that . . . enhance economic development, increase diversity, and address Edmonds’ growing ethnic community,” was how Suzy Maloney (Edmonds Arts Commission) described the progress and going-forward mission of the program and events work group.
The work group, represented also by Kevin Conefrey (Edmonds Arts Commission chairperson), is working on a proposal for establishment of “CAFÉ” – a program whose acronym stands for Creative, Active, Fulfill and Engage.
Maloney relayed that Program and Events work group meetings centered around “conversations and challenges about resources and partnerships” with the intention of finding ways “to help channel and leverage” the city’s resources in a way that benefits the community.
Edmonds Center for the Arts’ Gillian Jones and Joanne Otness of the Edmonds Arts Commission spoke to the many programs established and also being enhanced through the efforts of this work group. During its three meetings over the past two years, the group has sought to leverage partnerships that focus on access to the arts for all youth, including those who may need assistance through economic access offerings such as scholarships (including Jazz Connection), Teen Tix, and Edmonds Center for the Arts’ “Music for Life” program.
Otness and Jones made note of the upcoming Arts Education Roundtable, set for Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. My Edmonds News will provide updates on the roundtable location and agenda details as that date approaches.
City of Edmonds/Strong Arts Sector
Speaking to the topic of advocacy, Frances Chapin discussed the City of Edmonds’ commitment to the arts sector. She invited community members to communicate with the Edmonds City Council and become involved in development of Edmonds’ arts culture.
Each work group broke into forums to discuss four questions meant to challenge the creativity and thoughtfulness of the assembly:
1. How can each of us ensure that all relevant players populate the calendar with timely information? How can we make the calendar more visible?
2. How can we best create a citywide focus on improving access to arts for youth (K-12) in 2016?
3. How might each work group play a role in leveraging and/or supporting what [has been] heard from other work groups today? Where are key places to work together?
4. What have we heard and learned today that drives us toward a timeframe for the next full Arts Summit?
Feedback from these questions will be posted in the next week on the Edmonds Arts Commission website.
Chapin invites the community to participate in the arts culture dialogue by contacting her at [email protected].
— By Emily Hill