Islanders gathered for an Open House at VAA this past Sunday to find out the latest news about Vashon Center for Arts. On display were the new architectural renderings which showed off the spacious new lobby and art gallery. The new renderings are the most visible evidence of the progress we’ve been making. A lot is going on behind the scenes as we ready ourselves to break ground on the Island’s new art campus. Kudos to the hard work of everyone involved.
Over 70 Vashon artists laying bare their wares.
Sculpture and photography. Prints, paintings and pottery. Jewelry and textiles too.
Hundreds of happy Islanders purchase priceless pieces.
We started to map out some of the facts about VAA, and what emerged is a detailed picture of a vibrant art scene on Vashon. Here are some things you might have heard, but here are also some facts that might take you by surprise.
Vashon Allied Arts
- Established in 1966 makes it the oldest non-profit community-based private art center in the state of Washington
- For 32 years VAA has operated out of a 100 year old landmarked building
- In 2012 VAA retuned $300,000 to artists for teaching, performing and for the sale of art
- $51,155 given out in scholarships for Dance, Visual and Performing Arts classes
- In 2012 paid $84,000 to teaching artists
- 1/3 of students have been with the program 10 years or longer
- 50 classes offered every year
- Student age ranges from 2.5 to 65
- 250 students trained each year
- Over 1600 audience members attended the Nutcracker and Spring Ballet in 2012
Visual and Performing Arts Classes
- VAA offered nearly 70 classes in a variety of mediums during 2012
- 26 Vashon artist instructors were hired to teach in-house classes
- Arts class enrollment reached 500 students in 2012
- Last year, 235 artists had their work shown in the Gallery. Over 200 of those live on Vashon
- In 2012, VAA produced, co-produced and presented nearly 40 individual shows including: Chamber Music, Jazz Series, rock, Youth Musical Theatre, comedy and New Works Series, Family Series, mixed media and more.
- Vashon artists comprised more than 50% of performances.
- Audience members range from infants to 100 and more than half were sold-out performances
Vashon Artists in Schools
- VAIS celebrates a 25-year partnership between VAA and Vashon Island School District
- In 2013 there are 24 VAIS residencies, each between 10-30 classroom hours long
- The program serves nearly all of VISD’s 1,500 students every year
- The Heron’s Nest started as a small shop in the back of the Blue Heron in 1985
- 95% of the art sold in the Heron’s Nest is created by Vashon/Maury Island artists
- 100% of proceeds earned by Heron’s Nest directly or indirectly supports island artists and art programs
- More than 100 artists show their artwork at the Heron’s Nest
- 650 Households are VAA members
- Members receive discounts of up to 15% off all VAA classes.
- Members receive discounts of up to 22% off performance tickets
- Members receive 10% discount at the Heron’s Nest
GiveBIG on May 15 and watch your gift grow!
On May 15, Vashon Allied Arts will be one of over 1400 non-profits participating in the single biggest day of charitable giving in King County.
GiveBIG is a one-day, online event designed to inspire our neighbors to give generously to non-profits that make our region a great place to live. Every credit card donation made between midnight & midnight on Wednesday, May 15 at SeattleFoundation.org receives a pro-rated portion of matching funds.
Throughout GiveBIG, random drawings give additional $1,000 gifts to winning charities. In 2012 an amazing demonstration of the philanthropic spirit in King County generated $7.43 million in online contributions. When you GiveBIG, please remember VAA. All gifts count for the match when made online that day. Please support our other Island non-profits, too.
On the corner of Franklin and Fell Street, in the Hayes Valley, sits a new building atop an old lot formerly used as an auto repair shop. It’s now a complete performance and educational center for Jazz – the most American of all music.
The $64 million, 35,000 square-foot San Francisco Jazz Center is the first building of its kind – a structure, built solely and specifically for jazz. It has flexible seating for 350 to 700 people, a 60 seat café, offices and even a digital learning lab.
A decade ago, there were talks with the city’s symphony and opera about sharing space. Nothing materialized. And then, an anonymous gift of $20 million prompted the organization’s board to create a dedicated space, and so the planning and additional fundraising began.
San Francisco Jazz Center now has a permanent home. The Cool Cats can blow all night long and we can dig it because we can relate. We, too, are making giant steps to create a home for all the art that Islanders are jazzed about. Can you dig it? I knew that you could.
Below is a letter from former Board Member, Fred Albert. Fred served as Seattle Children’s Theatre Public Relations Manager and Seattle Repertory Theatre Publications Manager. His rich background in theater certainly gives him insight into our new arts campus.
In the movie Field of Dreams, a ghostly voice whispers to Kevin Costner, “If you build it they will come.” Building an arts center is different from building a baseball diamond in an Iowa cornfield; an arts center requires thorough financial planning to ensure sustainability.
Since Vashon Center for the Arts was proposed in late 2007, Vashon Allied Arts has worked to be certain VCA will be on solid ground well into the future. VAA Board and staff members looked at similar projects in other communities and learned what worked and what didn’t work with their projects.
Consulting with Vashon arts groups, VAA Deputy Director Angela Luechtefeld mapped a typical year of events in the new facility, then projected revenue and expenses for the building’s first five years. She explained that you can look ahead as far as you like, but if programming were to significantly change, formulas would also need to change. This is why business models for arts organizations typically encompass a period of about five years. Her goal in establishing the business model was to develop an economic strategy that would steer VCA toward financial stability starting Day One, while keeping user fees and ticket prices affordable.
“There will be increased costs to take care of the building,” acknowledges Luechtefeld. ”But we are also going to have increased ticket revenue because our seating capacity will triple and we will have the opportunity to attract a wider variety of performers. ”We’ll be able to pay a fee, rather than a cut of the door,” Luechtefeld says,. Expanded classroom and gallery space will also increase revenue.
No one is suggesting that every VCA performance will sell out. But even conservative estimates suggest that annual attendance will increase by 250 percent. Larger audiences will allow VAA to compete for sponsorships from corporations.
Vashon arts organizations demonstrate a long track record with proven audience histories, unlike some other communities that built buildings and then scrambled to develop programs to fill them. Even so, Luechtefeld anticipates there will always be an operating revenue gap although it will reduce each of the first 4-5 years. Most of the revenue gap will be covered by a substantial operating reserve (currently valued at $8 million) and ongoing fundraising will preserve the principal.
Why not use that money to fund the building’s construction instead? The majority of the sum is in a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust, and at the donor’s direction will be used for long-term sustainability. This fund will serve as a valuable cushion to cover any future shortfalls and to keep programs affordable.
With this safety net in place and continued rigorous planning, VAA hopes to create a building that will serve the Island’s arts needs now and for many years to come.