The Heron Speaks: Town Hall Debrief

“Off to the right along their path, Pallas Athena sent a heron gliding down the night. They could not see it passing, but they heard its cry; and heartened by that fisher bird, Odysseus prayed ‘O child of Zeus who bears the storm cloud, hear me…. tonight, befriend me most, Athena….’ These were the prayers, and Pallas Athena, Zeus’ daughter, heard them.”  

The Iliad

On February 13, 2018 Vashon Center for the Arts hosted an Artist Town Hall that was attended by approximately 200 people.  The lobby of the Katherine L White Hall was filled to capacity for an event hosted by the VCA board and facilitated by Kevin Joyce.

The process of generating a useable transcript has taken far longer than anticipated. It’s now available and you can download it here.  Part of the hang up was turning two hours of audio into a readable document.  The finished product is a bit over 19,000 words and takes up 41 pages.  There were over 30 speakers including VCA staff and members of the Board of Trustees.


Another factor contributing to the delay was an honest desire on our part to have concrete responses to as many of the criticisms raised as possible.  The topics that stand out most starkly are as follows:

  • The quantity, quality, and forthrightness of communications from the VCA board and staff
  • The manner in which VCA handled the decision to discontinue operation of the Heron’s Nest
  • Transparency around VCA finances
  • Transparency around how the Katherine L. White Hall was financed
  • The philosophy behind displaying visual art in Koch Gallery and building lobby and the process by which programming decisions would be made going forward
  • How we handled auction related communications, particularly post auction follow-up

In addition, there were topics raised in other forums that include:

  • The status of Island Arts
  • The quality of our website
  • Ticket prices

There’s more to that list than we can cover in one post, so we plan on writing many.  Consider these placeholder answers in the meantime.

Communications and Transparency

It’s taken several weeks but we’ve finally done a major refresh on our website.  This allowed us to create our first blog which will be home and hub to all our outreach and communications.

Every Friday we publish something called the Friday Fish Wrap which is a brief summation up of what’s going on at VCA.  It’s a fun read and we encourage you to subscribe.

We are also undertaking a new project called The Heron Speaks where we will publish information on topics of interest to our stakeholders, topics like finances, our building, how we will program visual art, and so on.  The post you are reading is the first in this ongoing series.

Island Arts is now a quarterly publication.  Look for the next issue the first week of April.  I will be the first to admit the transition from what Island Arts was to what we would like it to be was handled incredibly poorly and the quality of the January edition was sorely lacking.  For whatever it’s worth, I have personally extended my apologies to people who were unnecessarily bruised in that process.

Visual Arts at VCA

On March 17 we kicked-off a new Artist Advisory Council.  The members are all folks who signed-up at the Hown hall as well as some additional people who have joined us since.  Our immediate objective is to program our gallery and lobby in July and August, our two busiest months.  It will be community-based content at its best.  We are still working on plans for a more predictable selection and curation model which we will roll out in the fall.


This is a large and complex topic and one we will address directly in this space.  Please stay tuned.


Our auction call letter can be found here.  In making this request, we realize many in the community have found reasons to be disappointed with VCA, and you may be one of those people.  I know for a fact we dropped the ball last year in our post auction communications. Being anything less than grateful and gracious isn’t acceptable and we can and will do much better in 2018.

As I said at the Town Hall, we have recently implemented new workflow software which I’m confident will ensure we don’t let things fall through the cracks.  We have a single project manager looking after the process from beginning to end.  We will handle post-auction communications much more thoughtfully and sensitively.  We will run an auction of which we can all be proud.

Ticket Prices

This is another topic we will take up more fully in another post. Please stay tuned.




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