60 years ago the City of Seattle hosted a World's Fair. When the last crowds had gone, officials turned over the Fair's buildings to local nonprofit arts organizations. What had been a fairground is now Seattle Center, the city's largest and most visible cultural hub, dubbed "Seattle's Living Room" by former Center director Virginia Anderson.
This season Vivian and Marcie are exploring four Seattle neighborhoods that have significant cultural presence and impact. As a culmination of their conversations at Seattle Center, they invited an audience to join them for a live recording session with leaders and participants in Center-area cultural groups. This LiveXposure event was held at Path With Art.
"Art is an essential part of life. It's simply the foundation. It's just like science, like reading, like everything else. It's essential to our lives." —Pinky Estell, panel participant and representative of the Uptown Arts and Culture Coalition
"The act of coming together around a campfire and telling stories is something intrinsic to the human experience. Opera and other performing arts are just the modern day descendants of that."— Alex Minami, panel participant, Associate Director of Community Engagement for Seattle Opera
This season, we've partnered with TeenTix to engage young journalists to help us tell the stories of arts and community in the four cultural hubs we're spotlighting.
Read the first article connected to Seattle Center here!
ABOUT THIS EPISODE'S GUESTS (in order of appearance)
UPTOWN ARTS + CULTURE COALITION: Pinky Estell (he/him) is currently the founding Director of Creative Spaces and Event Services at Cornish. In the community, he serves as the President on the UpTown Arts & Culture Coalition District Board in Seattle Washington, the Advisory Board of Seattle Arts & Culture for Antiracism, and as a Tukwila Arts Commissioner Position 3. Additionally, he is the Co-founder of Otter & Penguin MakerSpaces and current Managing Director.
Pinky graduated from Cornish College of the Arts (BFA) and from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (MFA), in Technical Direction (TD). He has worked as TD for ACT San Francisco, San Francisco Opera Company Merola Opera, The National Black Theater Festival, Intiman Theatre, and the Cornish Playhouse to list a few. Pinky has worked as a freelance stage manager and production manager for festivals and corporate events for the last 15 years. He also sits on several national committees for the live entertainment industry through USITT including Tech Expo, National Awards, and the National Board Mentorship Program.
Outside of his work in the performing arts, Pinky creates public installations designed to engage the community in local parks and festivals. He is also very active with the regional burning man nonprofits of Precipitation Northwest (Oregon) and Ignition Northwest (Washington).
VERA PROJECT: A longtime advocate of all-ages and DIY music, Jason Clackley is a youth mentor and recording and touring artist. Born and raised in Hawaii, he spent his teenage years in Bremerton, Washington before moving to Seattle. Once relocating to the city, he joined a rag-tag group of punks doing house shows in the U-District. Since then, he's helped run many all-ages programs and DIY spaces, including Fusion Cafe at the Downtown YMCA, Black Lodge, and Ground Zero's Music Program.
Outside of music and art, Clackley also has an extensive background in social services, working with neurodiverse youth through Seattle Public Schools, houseless folx at DESC, and in counseling with Ryther Child Center. He continues this youth mentorship and social work in our creative community today as the Artistic Director of The Vera Project. Clackley plans to continue building pathways into the industry and more equitable opportunities in music and arts for generations to come.
SEATTLE OPERA: Lokela Alexander Minami is the Associate Director of Community Engagement at Seattle Opera, where he oversees educational programs for adults and cultivates Seattle Opera’s community partnerships. Previously, Alex worked with exchange students from Germany and Austria and served as Director of Operations of a nonprofit international education program for underserved high school students in Seattle. Originally from O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, he is a lifelong opera-lover and holds a B.A. in German Cultural Studies and Political Science from the University of Washington, as well as an M.A. in Middle East Studies from the UW Jackson School of International Studies.
PATH WITH ART:
Shända De Anda is an Air Force veteran who recently began participating in a few of Path with Art's programs including their veteran's choir and writing classes.
With a background in nonprofit management, strategic planning, and communications, PwA Executive Director Holly Jacobson's professional background spans both for- and non-profit institutions. She has created strategic marketing and product solutions for Microsoft, The City of Seattle, and The Seattle International Film Festival, amongst others. A passionate advocate for social justice, in 2003, Holly founded Voter Action, a national non-profit organization focused on ensuring all had equal access to fair and accurate voting. Having studied film at San Francisco State University, she has worked as a director in both documentary and commercial filmmaking. Since 2013, Holly has been the CEO of Path with Art, an organization at the forefront of connecting the arts to low-income adults living in or recovering from trauma. She serves on the Seattle Arts Commission, the Washington Women’s Foundation Impact Assessment Committee, and the steering committee of Arts & Homelessness International, based in the United Kingdom.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:00):
Hey, I'm Vivian Phillips
MARCIE SILLMAN (00:01):
And I'm Marcie Sillman. And, and this is doubleXposure
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:05):
DoubleXposure is a podcast where we plumb the deepest depths and the tiniest cracks of our world to understand how culture and creativity shape our lives.
MARCIE SILLMAN (00:27):
Today. The last in a series of episodes about Seattle Center.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:37):
MARCIE SILLMAN (00:38):
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:38):
Well. Hello, I'm Vivian Phillips and welcome everyone to Path with Art’s beautiful new art home. It's just across the street. Yes. Yes. It's just across, uh, Mercer Street from the Seattle Center campus, the main campus. And we're going to learn a lot more about Path with Art a little bit later, but in the meantime,
MARCIE SILLMAN (01:00):
I'm Marcie Sillman and we are incredibly happy to welcome you to our first ever liveXposure. It's an in-person recording for our podcast doubleXposure,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (01:10):
And this happens to be our second season for our podcast. We're so excited to have a second season. And this season we're focused on four cultural hubs. We call those cultural hubs, which are neighborhoods with a significant number of arts and cultural organizations and activities. And this is definitely that place. We're curious to learn more about how arts can help build foster and sustain community.
MARCIE SILLMAN (01:37):
We kicked off the season's cultural tour at the Seattle Center, and I think it's for obvious reasons, this place is home to everything from Seattle Opera to the Northwest Folklife Festival, to the Children's Theater, the Chihuly Glass Museum. And we thought that we'd end the exploration of the neighborhood by meeting some of the folks who make Seattle Center, the cultural hub.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (02:02):
It is. So Seattle center, as you know, is located at the foot or the Southern edge of Queen Anne Hill. Some call it Lower Queen Anne. I'm old school. I still call it Lower Queen Anne, unless I see Pinky Estell. And then this neighborhood has a different identity for me. It's Uptown, it's Uptown for everyone. It's home to Uptown Arts and Culture Coalition. One of Seattle's officially designated cultural districts and joining us to talk more about the coalition and its mission is Pinky Estell. Hello, Pinky.
PINKY ESTELL (02:37):
Hello. Thank you. Thank you.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (02:41):
It's so good to see you Pinky. It's been a while. We spent a lot of time together at one point in time, but I haven't up there in time. <laugh> yeah, yeah. Um, so what I wanna start with is asking if you would tell us a little bit more about what specifically a cultural district is and, and what the Uptown Arts and Cultural Coalition does.
PINKY ESTELL (03:03):
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, what's really great with this City of Seattle is that they got together and realized that we need to help prevent the displacement of arts and culture. And so city council sort of worked with, uh, the community to designate areas like Uptown here and to become art districts, to sort of give us an empowerment and the ability to support each other in a recognized, uh, value. Um, so for us, you know, this is, I think we are the second art district. I think Capitol Hill was the first we're the third I'm sorry, Central District. So that's essentially what we are. We're the district itself is comprised not only of Seattle Center, but actually the neighborhood around it. There are, there are arts individuals. There are places like Zingaro, which we consider part of that, Solo Bar, because they do engage arts within their facilities, even though their primary business might be something else, and reaching all the way out to, um, to other orgs within this neighborhood itself.
PINKY ESTELL (03:56):
Uh, and the individual artists that live here as well. It also counted. Our purpose is to essentially bring the hive mind together to really support each other when there is times, uh, when we need to advocate. And this complex is a good example of this. When the city was looking to give up this land, the coalition stepped in and said, okay, this makes sense. We do support the housing effort. That is certainly a necessity, but can we also include a place where arts can be a part of it? And so we did sit on that committee to help select, uh, Path with Art and with Plymouth Housing, wonderful success as we sit here today, um, also negotiating obviously with Climate Pledge Arena, the soon to be Memorial Stadium remodel we're working on as well. And then of course, S T Three, fun games. Uh, I'm sure we'll talk about later.
MARCIE SILLMAN (04:41):
<laugh> that's Sound Transit Three for people who don't live in the Seattle area.
PINKY ESTELL (04:45):
Yes. Um, so, you know, we're, we're basically a body of artists, both at the administrative level all the way down to even the janitors who get together and unite a voice unite, the organizations unite the individual artists to speak as one.
MARCIE SILLMAN (04:58):
So Pinky I, I was perusing your website and I noticed at least a couple dozen organizations, you mentioned Zingaro, which is a coffee shop. Solo, which is a place I hang out. I think of it as the Cheers for the arts neighborhood. Um, everybody sort of knows your name, who can be part of this coalition? Who are you looking for?
PINKY ESTELL (05:19):
Yeah, it's pretty much anybody who, uh, you know, works, plays in the arts, participates in culture. They don't have to be professional. We, it's everybody from the amateur, the person who's just simply a supporter. We have a lot of volunteers who come to this area to help out a lot of the orgs. They can certainly be a part of it contributing. You don’t necessarily have to live here. I actually live in Tukwila. Um, but this is where I work and this is where I play. Um, so here I am. Um, so, and then of course the businesses themselves, um, and the, you know, they can be, there's also the UA, which is the Uptown Alliance, which supports the businesses. But someone can be in both. There's not like a, a rule of thumb here that we have to stop you from being participant in the community.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (05:57):
One of the things that we didn't ask you is who do you work for?
PINKY ESTELL (06:00):
Ooh, good question.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (06:01):
<laugh> who do I work for? <laugh> who do you work for?
PINKY ESTELL (06:04):
God, who do I work for? Uh, over a lot of places. My primary job is at, uh, Cornish College of the Arts. I'm the Director of Creative Spaces and Event Services there. I'm also the co-founder of Otter and Penguin Maker Spaces.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (06:15):
Right on. So we've been focused on Seattle Center and all the activities that take place here. Obviously, it is, uh, pretty well known as “Seattle's living room” in, in many places. So what role does Seattle Center play in the Uptown cultural district efforts?
PINKY ESTELL (06:35):
Yeah, I think we have to sort of go back to the World's Fair and think about what other cities did after their World's Fair. You know, Seattle, we had, they built all these buildings, they created all this land, the World's Fair ends. What do you do? Most cities tore down those buildings, created a beautiful big park. That's not a bad thing, but this city chose to turn around and actually gift those buildings at a reduced rate to arts so that they can create that community. You know, Seattle Rep moved into the World's Fair theater, which is now the Cornish Playhouse, all these other orgs moved in over the years and that continues to develop. And we see that with the Northwest rooms, you know, KEXP moving in, Vera Project, SIFF, um, Skate Like a Girl, all these, wonderful orgs, A/NT (gallery) moved in, not that long ago, that continued legacy is really what helped develop this neighborhood to become such a strong, uh, hub of arts and culture. Um, and that element wouldn't exist without the support of Seattle Center and that sort of infrastructure, both in the city and the employees who work here really dedicate their time to, to engaging in that way.
MARCIE SILLMAN (07:35):
One of the things I wondered was whether, because it is so big and so visible, whether it's sort of like the 800-pound gorilla of the neighborhood,
PINKY ESTELL (07:46):
Uh, it is. And we do sometimes try to remind ourselves that, uh, you know, the coalition doesn't simply represent just Seattle Center. The arts districts is not just Seattle Center. We try to remember there is other elements in the district. It is obviously the big one it's gonna has the most orgs on it. So we do need to recognize that, um, and many times it can help us gain either the traction or the revenue we need to sort of move things along. So there is value in that, but it is a careful balance certainly to say.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (08:14):
So, what, what do you think is the role of arts and culture, Pinky, in fostering community?
PINKY ESTELL (08:23):
I think that the, the primary thing to consider here is that arts is an essential part of life and education. That's, it's simply the foundation. This is just like science. It's just like reading. It's like everything else. So for me, <audience clapping, laugh>
PINKY ESTELL (08:44):
Uh, I it's just simply essential to our life. So I think how it fosters it is because we, as civilization from the get go, we look back throughout our history. Art is always prevalent. That's what defines civilization in so many ways we get together and we create, so how is it, how is it a part of it? It's it's cuz it's a part of our, our souls. It's part of what we are as individuals, as a community and every breath in every corner of this world.
MARCIE SILLMAN (09:09):
So you mentioned Memorial Stadium, there's projects going on. Um, what's the big task, going forward?
PINKY ESTELL (09:16):
Yeah, the Memorial Stadium, which has been in, uh, a project that, uh, we've been working on since, before this was a district is started in 1977, I think was the first meeting. Um, here we are in 2022 doing, real good here. Uh, so the, the, the stadium is in desperate need of repairs. The it's currently under the school district. It will remain under the school district's, uh, oversight, even though it's within the, the boundaries of Seattle Center and they've voted and passed, uh, 65 million dollars to invest in a new facility there. The community, all of us, uh, we sort of believe that that can become an extraordinary place for, for the school district, but also greater for the community. And we wanna raise more funding so we can really create a wonderful place for our children and for the community during the off times that it's not being used. So the big lift right now is fundraising, uh, you know, had 150 or more million dollars. <laugh> so's it’s gonna be fine guys, easy <laugh>. So Seattle Center Foundation, which is an independent nonprofit, is helping lead that, uh, fundraising effort.
MARCIE SILLMAN (10:20):
Good luck with that. And Pinky is still. Thank you so much for being with us today. Pinky is with Seattle's Uptown Arts and Culture Coalition, and he's talking with us at Path with Art’s brand-new art home here at Seattle Center. We're gonna take a short break. And when we return, we'll talk with representatives from two of the many cultural organizations that call Seattle Center home.
PINKY ESTELL (10:43):
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (11:02):
Our music is courtesy of Big World Breaks, many thanks.
MARCIE SILLMAN (11:07):
And this year we welcome our sponsor LANGSTON cultivating black brilliance from their home at Seattle's Langston Hughes, Performing Arts Institute in the historic Central District.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (11:27):
Welcome back to liveXposure, a live recording of the doubleXposure podcast. I'm Vivian Phillips with
MARCIE SILLMAN (11:34):
Marcie Sillman. Yeah, I should do that in que and as Vivian mentioned, we're with a live audience at Path with Art’s, new art home. We're very excited about this and this art home is located directly across the street from Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Opera, Seattle Repertory Theater. Those are just three of the many cultural organizations that call Seattle Center, their home.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (12:00):
And what we wanted to do is give you a sense of the range of cultural organizations located at Seattle Center. So we invited representatives from two groups to join us. Jason Clackley is here and he's the Artistic Director of the Vera Project. And also joining us is Alex Minami. He is now the Associate Director of Community Engagement at Seattle Opera. I had to say that because I remember your other title, right. And I was gonna,
ALEX MINAMI (12:30):
A mere manager. Yeah, <laugh>
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (12:32):
A mere manager. Now you're a mere Director. <laugh>
MARCIE SILLMAN (12:37):
Down to the trenches.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (12:39):
Wanna say hello to both of you. And thank you for being here, Alex, when we hear, um, the words Seattle Opera, we get an immediate sense of what the mission might be, but Jason, that's not necessarily the case with the Vera Project. Can you tell us about your organization and the mission of the Vera Project?
VERA PROJECT (12:59):
Sure. Uh, yeah, that's funny. I mean, I, I think over, I've worked here for six years and I'm still not that good at saying the mission off the top of my head <laugh> so, uh, I'm gonna turn my phone like this <laugh> and I'm gonna read off and then I'm gonna say what I think it is. Uh, the Vera Project is an all ages, nonprofit space dedicated to fostering personal and community transformation through collaborative youth driven engagement in music and arts. It's a music venue, a screen-printing space, an art gallery. Uh, it is a place for civic engagement for young folks of all ages to be able to meet, work together, and grow. It is a transformative space outside of just being a venue.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (13:46):
And you for a while, if not still, the Vera Project was home for The Residency project, right. Or you worked with The Residency, which is Macklmore’s music training program, summer training program.
JASON CLACKLEY (14:00):
We did, uh, we did host some of their camps, um, and did partner in that way for, so we've also been a home for a lot of, uh, spaces that are incubating and moving into their own spaces as well. Um, currently, uh, took on a new program called Ground Zero Radio, uh, which I know you are, have been talking about.
MARCIE SILLMAN (14:16):
Right. You'll be able to read about it at our website. Yeah. doubleXposurepod.com. Totally. Very excited. Um, well, so that's, that's generally the Vera Project, we’ll come more. Alex, you, uh, I mean the Opera presents operas, but you are the Director of Community Engagement. So what exactly do you do?
ALEX MINAMI (14:36):
MARCIE SILLMAN (14:38):
ALEX MINAMI (14:38):
MARCIE SILLMAN (14:40):
But I'm sure that you do a lot of the directing. So what, what
ALEX MINAMI (14:44):
One day? Yeah. Um, that's a really tough question to answer.
MARCIE SILLMAN (14:47):
I just promoted him. Okay.
ALEX MINAMI (14:49):
That's a really tough question to answer Marcie. In a nutshell, our department Programs and Partnerships is responsible for some 25 separate programs and initiatives, community engagement and education initiatives. And I'm responsible for around 13 of them, I think, but simply put I'm responsible for Seattle Opera’s adult learning programs or our classes or lectures, our, um, uh, what else do we have a digital learning content and things like that. And I'm also responsible for a Seattle Opera’s community program. So things like the community conversation series, which Vivian, and I know you're very familiar with because you were kind enough to moderate one of them for us a few months back, we also, uh, have a veterans choir that we host jointly with Path with Art mm-hmm <affirmative> and there's, uh, any number of other community, uh, partnerships in collaborate, collaborative projects that I work
MARCIE SILLMAN (15:38):
With is this a re a relatively new arm of Seattle Opera?
ALEX MINAMI (15:42):
It's probably a growing emphasis, but it has been, uh, a part of the, the, the, the lifeblood of Seattle Opera for some time, but getting away from the nitty gritty of what my individual programs look like. I think what we really try to aspire to do at Seattle Opera is to expand our involvement in the civic life of the city, beyond the work that we, uh, put on stage and really to, um, make deep and meaningful lasting, mutually beneficial connections with community partner organizations and other communities here in the region. And, um, and by working together, we can each bring our individual, our individual strengths and institutional assets to the table and make a greater impact together than we would've been able to make separately.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (16:33):
So both of you work with professional artists and also members of the greater community. Why is that important to you to have that kind of mix?
JASON CLACKLEY (16:43):
Uh, it's everything. I mean, uh, part of Vera Project is the development, you know, character development, uh, creative economy development, as far as like building new careers for young folks to get into the production world, um, being live and, and recorded sound, um, working in the bigger places like STG one day, those kind of things. And, uh, but you know, uh, it's everything to be able to have that, that information sharing, you know, for, um, folks that are up here and down here. And, and I don't mean that stratified in any other way than just like on their different parts of their journey. Um, it's just so important to have that community, uh, buy-in from, from both, uh, folks in, in, in different parts of their journey.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (17:23):
So what about you Alex?
ALEX MINAMI (17:24):
That's again, a really tough question for me to answer. I mean, it's, um, I'm biased because I love opera as an art form, and I think opera singers are such incredible artists and athletes that the more that I can bring them together with members of our, uh, communities and regions, um, or communities in the regions where we are. Um, the, the more, I think we will be able to build love, not just for opera as an art form, but for the performing arts in general. The act of coming together around a campfire and telling stories is something that I think is intrinsic to the human, uh, experience. And it's something that is, is, uh, necessary for our mental and physical health and opera and other performing arts are really just a modern day descendant of that practice. And so opera, it sounds odd to say this because I think we're, we're sitting on centuries of self-inflicted wounds with our culture of, uh, elitism and exclusivity. He says, as he drinks a bottle of San Pellegrino, <laugh> but opera, maybe say that if it's performed outside of the opera house, outside of McCaw Hall and in neighborhoods or in, um, in other areas, I think a lot of people would find it surprisingly relatable.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (18:43):
So talk a little bit, both of you about the balance between making art and building community and how that works in both of your organizations.
JASON CLACKLEY (18:52):
Well, I grew up in the punk scene, uh, and the DIY all-ages music scene, and we, we did everything volunteer, um, art for art's sake. And, uh, um, I like to think that as an Artistic Director, though, I want young folks to have good jobs and work. I also want them to come together as a community to build, um, new pathways, to like build new daring art in our community, make, continue to have Seattle be something different for Seattle to the Seattle area, to be something like just overall, like something that people remember, you know. As a person growing up in punk hardcore scene, like, and never really making any money doing this stuff. I think community is everything. The fact that I have lifelong friendships with folks is the reason why I continue to push, um, our mission because it's like we can go off and do whatever other work we do, but we learn a lot from each other in our community. And, um, the development that we create there.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (19:53):
How does that look for you, Alex?
ALEX MINAMI (19:55):
I don't really think that there's a balance that needs to be struck between art making and community building. I think particularly with the performing arts, not just opera, but all of the performing arts one necessarily involves the other by presenting a, an operatic performance or another show. It draws people together intrinsically. I think if there is a distinction to be made, it's a one it's a matter of in, uh, of emphasis. I would guess that my colleagues in the artistic administration department and the production department, their emphasis is on creating the art and then the community building comes with that. My emphasis and my department's emphasis is on the community building first and the vehicle through which we accomplish that is the art.
MARCIE SILLMAN (20:42):
So you're each working with communities that are attached or part of extended from your organizations, but you're also part of this big community across the street, the Seattle Center. And as Pinky Estell mentioned earlier, 60 am I right? Vivian, 60 years ago, <VIVIAN: you act like I was here. > Uh, I, I, I know that you were not, I know that that Vivian's joking. <VIVIAN: I was here.> Yeah, you were here <laugh> <laugh> 60 years ago. This place was the site of the World's Fair. It was turned over to, to really culture. And I'm wondering what the advantages are, or maybe disadvantages that you both see to having a big community, a cultural community that you're part of. You wanna start Alex?
ALEX MINAMI (21:27):
Please? Oh, sure.
JASON CLACKLEY (21:28):
I'm gonna think about this.
ALEX MINAMI (21:29):
It's incredible to be here on Seattle Center and not a lot of people know this, but we're actually relatively recent tenants of Seattle Center until just a few years ago, 2018, our offices were over in South Lake Union in this scary, uh, abandoned, uh, very scary carpet warehouse.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (21:47):
Like behind Seattle times, right?
ALEX MINAMI (21:49):
Yes, exactly. Exactly. Down the street around the corner. And fortunately,
MARCIE SILLMAN (21:53):
And it was subterranean. Yes.
ALEX MINAMI (21:54):
Fortunately, we were able to build this brand new, beautiful building that houses our offices and our rehearsal facilities and, uh, a nice little theater on the corner, but what's great about being here among other arts organizations is that we can communicate with each other so much more easily. And we've done so many different collaborative projects just within the last few years that we've been here. COVID notwithstanding with the Pacific Northwest Ballet with Seattle Rep. We're in very frequent communication with Seattle Rep, with Chihuly garden and glass. We've had youth performances at Cornish College of the Arts. I'm pointing to all of these, uh, different places, right through the window here that we're looking out at on Mercer Street. We've had outdoor performances on Fisher Pavilion and I'm, I I'm sure there are many more things. So we just, our veterans choir just had a performance recently as part of the Northwest Folklife Festival. So, uh, we're really able to draw energy from each other and get inspiration from each other. And when, I mean that, it's when I say that it's easy for us to communicate. I mean, I walk past the Ballet staff members and Rep staff members and everybody else on Mercer Street as we're walking back and forth to lunch. Um, so it's, it's, um, really handy that way to be plugged into what everybody's, uh, doing here in this, this little neighborhood.
JASON CLACKLEY (23:16):
I agree. I mean, it's varied in what we all do, but, um, there's always pathways. I mean, there's just down to the easiest favors a couple weeks ago. Uh, I needed some platforms for a wrestling thing we were doing, uh, we put a wrestling ring in Vera, but we were having a band play in there. We're like, crap. We can't put a good, uh, drum set in there. That's gonna bounce around. So I call Pinky and I'm like, pinky help. I need platforms cuz we don't have a bunch of platforms at Vera and uh, they were able to help and, and uh, coming quick on it and not just outside of resources. I mean also just the fact that we're able to trade, um, we're able to trade like folks that wanna work in the creative economy and stuff like two different places. I mean most major festivals are on campus. It's like able to be able to have my youth go work a bunch of different spaces on campus and to build their careers and stuff like that. That's huge. So.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (24:09):
Yeah, I hope the people that live here in the Uptown neighborhood are aware of what an asset, the Seattle Center and all of the arts organizations on campus actually are. So, you know, we said, we're gonna dive a little bit into policy and I think this is, this is kind of policy related, but Sound Transit has been having some conversations about the sighting of the new light rail station. And so, and um, I don't know much about the stakeholder engagement, so I'm just gonna ask <laugh> do, do you all feel like your voices were heard cuz I'm going to just assume and I'm, it's probably a great a right, correct. Uh, assumption. You all were involved in those conversations. Do you feel like your voices were heard?
JASON CLACKLEY (25:00):
Well, uh, I know that Pinky put me up to this question.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (25:05):
JASON CLACKLEY (25:07):
But we see each other at 9:00 AM every week on Zoom. And we talk about, we have stakeholder meeting, um, about this. Um, so far I believe that I believe that the city has heard our concerns and there are some moves to, uh, move it away from where it was going to literally, uh, go under all of the Northwest Rooms. And um, I, I remember Sound Transit came in to look at the building and I said, this is the Snoqualmie Room. This was not built for anything besides the World's Fair mm-hmm <affirmative>. I said, so if you drill under here, this will be my tomb. Yep <laugh> and they were laughed and I was like, no, really I'm 37 years old and it'll be my tomb. Um, but uh, but really, um, but yeah, I, I do believe that, um, that we are making some headway with folks and continuing to build advocacy because it is really important that we have light rail service here. It is so important for us. We work with a lot of, some of the most marginalized folks in the city who are still trying to get to campus and everything, even through light rail service and, and monorails and all that kind of stuff. And we want it here, but we want to make sure that it's done the best they can to, to accommodate everybody.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (26:17):
So you think the same?
ALEX MINAMI (26:19):
I wish I could speak a little bit more intelligently to this topic. I'm not directly involved in the conversations about the location of the Seattle Center light rail station, but uh, I have heard some whisperings about where some of them are going to be and, and I'm sure there are a lot of, um, concerns that might be assuaged. I remember when, um, I remember hearing about when the bus tunnel was being constructed under Benaroya Hall mm-hmm <affirmative> and they it's such an interesting building. They built this hermetically sealed auditorium to protect it from any disturbance, uh, from the light or from the bus tunnel. Now the light rail tunnel. And I think it actually ended up not really causing that much of an issue at all. Um, but, um, what I can say as far as it impacts our work in education and community engagement is that we are, uh, keenly aware of how inaccessible Seattle Center is to a lot of people here in our region and anything that helps to, um, bring more people here. I think bring more people here easily and affordably is something that we certainly welcome. And, um, I'm, I'm personally just very impatient for mass transit to arrive, uh, here at Seattle Center in particular, but also to spread, um, more widely across our region.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (27:37):
If I can, if I can just, just a site follow up to that. Um, uh, Alex, it sounds like the, uh, presence of light rail will most benefit Seattle Opera as it relates to patrons and for the Vera Project, it most benefits participants and the access that it provides for people who would want to participate in your programs. It, and that's a really interesting thing because one of the, one of the things that's come up in the creative economy conversations has to do with access to work sites and getting back and forth because people can't afford to live in Seattle. They have to commute from outside of Seattle to come to the Vera Project to actually get a stipend for an internship. Right. Right.
MARCIE SILLMAN (28:25):
Well, I'm glad you brought up creative economy because the conversation about what role, uh, cultural organizations play goes beyond whether you're gonna have light rail here, right. Or whether, uh, you have a, a, a shuttered venue operating grant from the federal government. Right. Which I think probably don't have for a year from now. Um, so there's money to worry about, but I'm wondering what kind of clout you feel collectively the Seattle Center cultural organizations have on some wider policies and, and the visibility of, of the creative sector in general in this region?
JASON CLACKLEY (29:06):
The cloud, I think, is what we've talked about in every, and I feel like we've said this to every major tour that's come through that we've taken any legislator through here that, um, it's a trickle effect. It's a trickle effect of like folks from generationally being able to access services here to be able to come to, to any type of show, events here. Like we teach the youngest of, of, of the production world for the most part, as far as like live entertainment is concerned. I know that the, um, there's a lot of really great stuff in the Penguin Project and things like that, that for maybe on the theater side, but not being able to have in 20 years, you won't see it for 20 years, but it's like not being able to have the bands and the artists that are coming up at the Vera Project in 20 years, they're gonna go, who do I book at Climate Pledge Arena? Who do I, what happens here, who, and it will have that ripple effect. And I think so as far as clout is concerned, I think ultimately it, we, we are linked at this point, this, this space intentionally was, you know, all the intention was there. And so now unlinking, it would be detrimental to the culture bearing of, of our, of our whole city.
MARCIE SILLMAN (30:20):
What about you, Alex?
ALEX MINAMI (30:21):
Again, I, I don't participate directly in the conversations with, uh, you know, local government about some of the issues that impact our region, but Seattle Opera is certainly represented in those conversations. And there are frequent meetings among all of the arts organizations. And I think what's nice about that is that our voices collectively can make a greater impact than if we separately, Seattle Opera, were trying to, um, raise a, a concern with local leaders. And my under, my impression so far is actually that a lot of our local, um, city and county leaders are, are pretty sympathetic to the, the needs and concerns of the arts organizations in this area. Uh, so I'm pretty optimistic that just through continued dialogue, um, will, we’ll be, we’ll be, um, in a good position to have our voices heard.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (31:15):
I truly hope that sympathy becomes action. Yeah, <laugh>, that's all <laugh> thank you. Well, and, and I also think that, you know, the UACC is a perfect example of the power of a coalition, and I think you all are articulating that being a part of this coalition is a really important piece of the work that you do. So, a final question for you both, I wanna ask what's your biggest wish, art-wise for your organization and for the city as a whole moving forward? Don't be shy.
JASON CLACKLEY (31:50):
<laugh> my biggest wish a Lego land in Seattle? No, uh,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (31:54):
A Lego Land in Seattle Center
JASON CLACKLEY (31:55):
Finally, we have our own, uh, uh, my, my biggest wish is, I mean, I've lived in the city for so long and in the region. And my biggest wish is that we continue that our, uh, our administrations, our legislation, um, uh, continues to invest in its people. And that it invests solely into the arts as a holistic with holistic value, um, alongside the creative economy piece to it. Um, but investing into, um, the future, the children, um, <laugh>, you know, uh, it's really, it's the most important. I, I wanna see moral all-ages spaces because that's what I grew up in. That's where I grew, um, into, um, the person I am today. And I would love to make sure that we continue to really put arts at the forefront of the city, because that's why I moved to Seattle the first place. So
ALEX MINAMI (32:50):
I think my biggest wish for Seattle Opera as an organization is that we continue to push forward in becoming a, an anti-racist multicultural organization. We set that goal in our 2019 racial equity and social impact plan. And we've made a lot of steps in that direction, but there's always more that we could do. Um, I think that, uh, in terms of our, our, um, season planning, there's always more representation that can be seen on stage. They're more diverse voices that can be included in the creative process and behind the scenes and our community engagement programming can continue to put an emphasis on communities in Seattle who haven't really had access to, um, a lot of, uh, the cultural, um, life of the city. We're all aware that, uh, we are standing of course, on many centuries of, um, self-inflicted wounds in that department. Um, but we're doing our best to, to write the ship and, um, steer back on course. My wish for the city as a whole is slightly different.
ALEX MINAMI (33:58):
I've lived in Seattle now, as of, for, as of next month, I will have lived here for 16 years. And over those 16 years, I have witnessed the city change drastically. And the way in which it's changed has me worried about the health of the arts and culture, seen it here in the city. And my wishes that a lot of the newcomers to Seattle really start getting more involved in the cultural life of the city. Uh, join a board of an arts organization, become a subscriber, uh, join the young professionals of, uh, audience programs, uh, that we all have, or, um, you know, just become a single ticket buyer. There's so many things that you could go to right this minute, the Seattle Art Fair is happening this weekend. Wooden O, Seattle Shakespeare's got its thing going on. You don't even have to buy a ticket it's free. Um, and, uh, Pirates and Penzance, I think is opening up pretty soon. Uh, our shows, uh, the Elixer of Love is opening up on August 6th. So there's a lot that people can do right this moment. And I think once people experience live opera and live theater and, uh, live music, um, there's, there's really no going back.
MARCIE SILLMAN (35:11):
I so love talking to people from the arts don't you think I do?
VIIVAN PHILLIPS (35:14):
These are the only people I talk to
MARCIE SILLMAN (35:15):
The only people she talk to <laugh> Alex Minami is associate director of community engagement for Seattle Opera. Jason Clackley is Artistic Director of the Vera Project. Those are just two of the many cultural organizations located at Seattle center. Thank you both so much for being with us.
JASON CLACKLEY (35:33):
Thank you for having me
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (35:41):
And we’ll be right back with this episode of doubleXposure recorded before a live audience at Path with Art’s new home. We'll hear more about this place and the people it serves coming up.
MARCIE SILLMAN (36:08):
Welcome back to liveXposure at Path with Art's new art home at Seattle Center. I'm Marcy Sillman with Vivian Phillips.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (36:15):
Well, thank you so very much. And as Marcie said, we're recording this podcast before a live audience at Path with Art. <clapping>
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (36:28):
And it's a lovely live audience, and we're, we're joined now by Path with Art’s organization Director, Holly Jacobson, and one of its participants, Shanda de Anda. I love saying that name. Oh my God. Thank you both so much. And Holly, we had a chance to talk with you a couple of weeks ago about Path with Art and your mission to work with people who are moving through different traumatic experiences in their lives. We didn't talk as much about the beautiful art home here. Can you tell us about this place a little bit, even though we're here sitting in it and loving it, but talk to us about it.
HOLLY JACOBSON (37:08):
Well, for those of you, thank you, Vivian. And it's such an honor to have you two. It’s kind of our first official, uh, show
Speaker 1 (37:16):
HOLLY JACOBSON (37:17):
Show at the art home. First of all, I'd like to acknowledge that, that our beautiful new art home sits on the land, the unseated land of the Salish Coast peoples, and, um, and I think that's important to acknowledge. Sure. And remember, and as one way of doing that at our, every staff meeting that we have, we always like to highlight the work of a different Indigenous artist. Nice. And I say that because at our art home opening on September 24th, and we hope to see everyone who can make it out, come out September 24th. It's a Saturday, it'll be kind of around 12 to five. We're sorting out the details right now, but Mr. Preston, Singletary, and I hope you're listening. Mr. Singletary said that maybe he would bring his band and they would play. Oh, wonderful. So, Ooh, no pressure. Um, anyway, we, uh, this is a project of, that's been many years in the making, and I'm just feel so fortunate to be sitting here with you all in it.
HOLLY JACOBSON (38:22):
It's an art home that has a gallery where we're sitting right now, where we can have host a multitude of flexible space, uh, flexible activities, such as, uh, a podcast recording or a film night. Um, we can have our poetry readings. We can have an art show. We have two visual art studios, two what art studios that are multipurpose and also a sound. What we call a little jewel box sound room, where we have currently we're PI, well, I'd say we're piloting, but we're utilizing it for our podcast class. Along with KING FM, who's been hosting us. So, uh, shout out to all the many people who made this project possible, but one of them I have to shout out to is SABA architects who donated all of their architectural services to us.
MARCIE SILLMAN (39:15):
It's uh, thank you, SABA because it's gorgeous. We're sitting in it just loving it right now. Well, Shanda, and now I get to say Shanda de Anda’s name, cuz that is pretty fun. You're one of many participant artists here at Path with Art. And I'm curious to know a little bit about your path to path with art. How did you find this place?
SHÄNDA DE ANDA (39:36):
So I served a military career of 24 years in the Air Force. And after my current thing, my pleasure after my career, um, I retired and then COVID happened, and I felt like I lost my community. I was also diagnosed with, um, PTSD and some other challenges and COVID really helped magnify that. Mm. Um, I was seeing a therapist through the Tacoma Vet Center who through some of the therapy work doing art helps me put myself aside and not overthink and really get to some issues that I didn't even realize I was having. So my therapist recommended that I try Path with Art. Um, and so I stepped up to my first class, which was the veterans choir, um, which scared me to death to, to sing. And somewhere along the way, I felt like I lost my voice, not being in uniform. And the choir was, um, it was, it was life changing for me.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (40:31):
I think, you know, when we talked to you, Holly, about the work that you do here at Path with Art, we discovered that you work with over 60 social service organizations. So hearing you Shanda talk about the fact that your therapist referred you mm-hmm <affirmative> to Path with Art is a confirmation, if you will, uh, of that conversation. But I'm curious about what it was you were looking for. I know you got into the choir, but what were you looking for when you found this organization?
SHÄNDA DE ANDA (41:01):
I was looking for a change in the pattern I had settled into, and I felt like I had lost my voice and being in a choir made me nervous. It scared me. So I felt like that's where my growth needs to start the place that scares me or makes me more uncomfortable first. Um, and the thing about the choir is it's not what I expected. It was a lot more collaborative. It was welcoming and it was environment with other veterans and veterans, I found in general, sometimes we have trust challenges with other people, but with other veterans we kind of of have like a brotherhood, sisterhood. And there's no, there's no outer shell to break through. We just are who we are around other veterans. So that really made the transition easy for me. And it helped me face some of my fears that I hadn't even realized
MARCIE SILLMAN (41:48):
You've gone beyond that choir. You're doing other things here at Path with Art, right.
SHÄNDA DE ANDA (41:53):
I am, I am. So I would say because of the choir, even singing the way you sit up straight and you hold your head high, it kind of changes the way you look at the world. And I started to discover my voice and it reintroduced me to art that I've loved as a child. And Path with Art has those programs. I joined a writing class and rediscovered my love for writing and it really kind of opened up a lot of avenues for me. So now I don't feel like I'm as much as a student really being led, I feel like I'm more part of a collaborative partner in what's going on. So I'm learning and enriching from it, but I've also found a community where I feel like I'm an important part of.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (42:33):
Do you see a future? I, I mean, just listening to you talk, honestly, I, I, I just wanna ask, honestly, do you see a future here at Path with Art expressing yourself in various ways beyond just having Path with Art, be a therapeutic salve for yourself?
SHÄNDA DE ANDA (42:52):
Yes, I, I do. It's interesting. My husband has told me for years, I should do a podcast because <laugh>, because the way I look at the world,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (43:01):
You're, <laugh>, <laugh>
SHÄNDA DE ANDA (43:04):
The way I look at the world and experience things he said is different. And I bring out things in people and Path with Art really does have me excited about that creative, that creative outlet. And I feel I'm still nervous. I timid about like stepping out on my own and being maybe a leader or starting something on my own, but I feel like I'm getting ready. I'm almost at that launching pad point. So hopefully we'll see if they'll have me.
MARCIE SILLMAN (43:27):
I, I, I see it.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (43:29):
We give you a certificate podcast podcasty or whatever <laugh>.
MARCIE SILLMAN (43:37):
Yeah. So Holly, you've been with Path with Art for many years, and I'm guessing that probably hundreds of participant artists have come through the doors, maybe more than that
HOLLY JACOBSON (43:49):
MARCIE SILLMAN (43:50):
Thousands of artists. And so when you listen to Shanda, talk about her experiences with the organizations, is that something that you've heard other people express in maybe different ways? Does it resonate with other stories of participants?
HOLLY JACOBSON (44:05):
Oh, totally. I mean, everyone, we like for this, for example, this year, we'll probably, we have a, a goal to serve a thousand individuals through those 60 social service agencies. Wow. I'd also like to say that we serve the general community as well, as we are a venue to connect human beings through art. So it's not just the individuals we serve. It's the groups and society part of our mission. But you know, <laugh>, I mean, the arts are transformative. We all know that. And your guests all talk about that, not just today, but all of your podcast talk about that. That's what you all are doing is talking about the transformative aspect of the arts and why it's so central to being human. I guess for us, the access piece is more important, and also the community piece is central, but the impact is profound. And, uh, even though every single of like, every one of those thousand stories will be different, they're all unique. And I think that's kind of what makes it profound too, is that they're all everybody's own story.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (45:10):
Hi, I'm, I'm pretty intimately familiar with the former space that you all, um, resided in, in Pioneer Square. What are the things that you can do here in your new art home that you couldn't do before?
HOLLY JACOBSON (45:25):
Well, we can host a live podcast. I mean, just, we just have the space. We never had space to hold our own classes or workshops. I'm like getting weepy, talking about it. We have been hosted by all these wonderful 34 arts and cultural partners around the city. And we will continue to be hosted by our dear partners at the Opera and at Cornish and all our friends across the street and who are also part of the Seattle Center. But, um, here, it's just kind of nice to be able to give back to the community, to Uptown Arts and Cultural Coalition’s members to host others, but also a place that our participant artists can call their very own, I mean, couch surfing's nice and everything, but having your own space, there's nothing like it.
MARCIE SILLMAN (46:14):
Well, we love this cozy home that you have made and we're so appreciative.
HOLLY JACOBSON (46:18):
Can, can I also add, add to that real quickly though, is that as we're talking about a Thema community, we were embraced heartily by the Seattle Center community. And even though we're off campus, we're considered part of the campus. And, and I appreciate that also just, it's a very welcoming community. It, it, there really is, uh, a communal arts sister brotherhood happening personhood happening at Seattle center across the street. I I'm honored to be part of it.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (46:50):
I think as long as you're on the same side of the street is the garage, the Mercer garage you're considered on the campus
MARCIE SILLMAN (46:56):
Part of the, part of the campus that
HOLLY JACOBSON (46:58):
That's all OK. Right. Well, it's with, this is Seattle city properties. So that's what I thought.
MARCIE SILLMAN (47:04):
Yeah. Um, I wanna give you the last word. What would you most like people who are listening to know about Path with Art?
SHANDA DE ANDA (47:15):
MARCIE SILLMAN (47:16):
You can't see her, but her eyes just opened up really big.
SHÄNDA DE ANDA (47:18):
That's a great question. I would say, even if you have hesitations, get involved, take a chance, because not only will it change you if you allow it, but you can help change other people. This is a great community to get started and be involved in.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (47:35):
Go ahead. Yeah.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (47:42):
And I think Holly, after our last conversation with you, Marcie and I both came away with this feeling that the, the necessity to heal global trauma was a pretty big thing, but I think global is wherever you are at the moment. Right. And so you're, you're doing that work right here. Global starts local. Yep. Global starts local. So I'm gonna say her name again because you're probably going to hear her on her own podcast. <laugh> but <laugh> Shonda de Anda is a participant artist at Seattle's Path with Art. Holly Jacobson is the organization's Executive Director. And we thank you so very much both of you for joining us today for our very first liveXposure recorded in front of a live audience at Path with Art's new art home at Seattle Center.
MARCIE SILLMAN (48:31):
We really wanna thank Path with Art for hosting us today and special shout-outs to Holly and some of the amazing staff members Shahira Wahba, Austin Moreman, Ari Rogers, Gavin Reub, and JJ Stein who really helped make this happen. DoubleXposure Executive producers are me, Marcie Sillman.
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (49:06):
And me Vivian Phillips. We get production support from Hilary Northcraft, Randy Engstrom and Calandra Childers.
MARCIE SILLMAN (49:14):
Support for doubleXposure comes from Pyramid Communications,
VIVIAN PHILLIPS (49:18):
And we're especially proud to support Crosscut Media's Black Arts Legacies project, highlighting the role of black artists and arts organizations throughout our cultural landscape.
MARCIE SILLMAN (49:30):
If you like what you're hearing on this episode of doubleXposure, be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app and check out our website, doubleexposurepod.com.
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