Jennifer Krikawa knew she wanted to sing opera from a young age. Growing up in Connecticut, she recalls attending musical performances with her family and eagerly starting voice lessons in the seventh grade. Her classical training continued at Northwestern University and then on to New England Conservatory, where she earned her MFA and met the person who would ultimately become her husband. Eight years ago the family relocated to Vashon, and in 2009 she co-founded Vashon Opera with the goal of returning to her roots while introducing Island audiences and new generations to the beauty of opera.
Over the years, Vashon Opera has brought together local, regional and national opera singers and musicians for bi-annual performances such as Die Fledermaus and Carmen, as well as cherished children’s productions Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. With Vashon Center for the Arts slated to break ground in fall 2014, the excitement of local “Partners in the Arts” organizations, which includes Vashon Opera, continues to grow. Vashon Allied Arts recently spoke with Krikawa to find out what she looks forward to about the future community arts center.
VAA What inspired you to start Vashon Opera?
JK We had done a few things here and there on Vashon, so we had the idea that we could do opera regularly and more formally. It not only gave my husband and me an opportunity to use our voices again, but also gave us an artistic outlet for production. It’s really fun to choose an opera and figure out casting, costumes and set design, and to work with a stage director and all the creative stuff that goes along with it. We’ve spent a lot of our time and education becoming opera singers, so it was a good opportunity to bring it back into our lives. My philosophy is that if there is something you love to do – do it!
VAA What is special about attending Vashon Opera?
JK What makes our performances exciting is the intimacy. The singers are right there and even come out into the audience sometimes. The audience always feels engaged and involved. The new VCA theater is going to capture that intimate feeling beautifully.
VAA What is Vashon Opera looking forward to about the new theater in VCA?
JK We are really excited about performing in a concert hall designed and built with acoustics as its primary focus. Since opera is classical music, we don’t use microphones, and on the VCA stage, the natural beauty of voices will be enhanced. The orchestra pit will open up a new world of possibility, allowing us to accommodate more musicians, a greater variety of instruments and new sounds to complement our voices. The pit also opens things up visually. Our musicians and audiences will have better visibility of the stage to watch the drama unfold. We love to bring in elements of dance, acrobatics and movement, all of which we will have more room to explore. Not to mention, the theater will have a great backstage area that is very comfortable and accommodating, which is especially important for our visiting performers.
VAA What is coming up for Vashon Opera?
JK In May, we are performing the French opera Werther, by Jules Massenet, with a cast of seven adult singers and ten children. It is a tragedy with some incredible music that is both lyrical and very delicate – a beautiful style that we haven’t done before.
- by Justin Huguet
The Best Seat in the House
This holiday season consider participating in the Vashon Center for the Arts “Partners in the Arts” campaign. Donors at the $2,500 level will have the special opportunity to have their name on a seat in the new VCA theater. Pledges can also be fulfilled in installments over time (i.e. $250 over 10 months). For more information or to make a donation click here or call Molly Reed at 463-5131.
Thank you for your support!
It all started with Kay White’s vision for a special space that would become a center for celebrating the creative and collaborative spirit of our community. This vision was transformed into reality with her generosity and that of many individuals, whose support would put our project within reach – and it will conclude with the collective efforts of neighbors, friends and community partners. With our Island behind it, Vashon Center for the Arts will break ground in Fall 2014.
Over the last several years of planning, fundraising efforts have been met with tremendous success. Of the $13.5 million capital campaign goal, an astounding $10 million has already been raised. Now, with less than one fourth of the goal remaining, VCA’s public phase of our Partners in the Arts campaign will rely on the support of community members to raise $2.5 million to bring this long-evolving dream to life. The remaining $1 million is expected from grants and other major gifts.
At VAA’s annual Art Auction on September 28th, A Knight with the Arts, nine local artists and community leaders took the stage to kick off a collective commitment to reaching our goal as Partners in the Arts. “All of these community leaders are partners in making Vashon Center for the Arts a reality, and we invite you to join us in this exciting adventure,” welcomed Tim Roden, president of VAA’s board of directors. Each participant proudly represented a different facet of our community that will benefit from the new space. Partners included Jennifer Krikawa (Artistic Director of Vashon Opera), Leah Mann (Lelavision and Teaching Artist), Rowena Hammill (Artistic Director of Vashon Chamber Music), Jim Marsh (Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce), Jo Ann Bardeen (President of Vashon Island Chorale and Co-Chair of VCA’s capital campaign), Gaye Detzer (President of Drama Dock), Pam Ingalls (Painter and Teaching Artist), Michael Soltman (Superintendent of Vashon School District), and Hank Lipe (Fire Chief, Vashon Fire District), In unison, the individuals onstage proclaimed their dedication to our final community phase of fundraising: “Hey Vashon, together we can build it!”
To date, funding for Vashon Center for the Arts has come through gifts from more than 140 donors with the remainder to be raised through grants and most importantly, a wide cross section of our community. Jo Ann Bardeen and Mary Carhart are co-chairs of VCA’s capital campaign. “The new arts campus offers each of us on this island a personal opportunity to be inspired and involved,” says Carhart. Bardeen and Carhart have been leading efforts to inspire islanders to support the last push toward completion of VCA’s goal. As Bardeen explains, “no contribution is too small, because together the Vashon community is going to build this tremendous arts center that will benefit us, our children, our grandchildren and future generations.”
Bardeen, Carhart and the rest of the fundraising team are confident that Islanders will rise to this challenge. “The contributions and involvement of so many people and organizations in this project is amazing. We are so close to the fundraising finish line, and the campaign cabinet is anxious to complete its work and build the Vashon Center for the Arts,” says Bardeen. VAA is proud to belong to such a vibrant and supportive community.
State Senator Sharon Nelson, (D-Vashon-Maury Island ) came out to the Blue Heron to share some great news with us last week. After working tirelessly to pass the state budget, she told the crowd gathered at VAA that $2 million in capital funds had been allocated for Vashon Center for the Arts! The cheers were instant; the gratitude apparent. Clearly the audience understood that this news brought VCA leaps and bounds closer to breaking ground. Vashon Center for the Arts is just around the corner!
The funds were appropriated through a section of the State’s capital budget aptly named, “projects that strengthen communities and quality of life”. Half of the new funding replaces a Building for the Arts grant VAA received from the State in 2009. The grant expired in June of this year, so it was a great relief to have these funds replaced. The additional $1 million is entirely new funding, and further strengthens the VCA fundraising efforts.
Senator Nelson recognizes that the art campus brings this community together and is good for all Islanders. The campus will serve not only as a cultural hub and arts education center for our kids, but it will also serve as a boost to our local economy and provide a home to many other arts groups on Vashon.
Thank you, Senator Nelson for all your hard work. And thanks to all of you who have helped us get this far. It truly takes the entire community to create something of this magnitude. Thank you, Vashon!
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