What Will It Look Like? Building From the Inside Out
By Bruce Morser
This is the 2nd in a series of articles to inform Islanders of the status of VAA’s proposed new arts facility – Your thoughts and responses are welcome
The excitement surrounding the announcement of a new building is often focused on “What will it look like?” Looks are important, and it’s crucial that any new structure work well within its surroundings and pay respect to the historic culture of that area. However, many other issues need to be considered first. The most successful buildings and campuses are truly designed from the inside out.
From the day Kay White first alerted Vashon Allied Arts Executive Director Molly Reed, of her interest in providing a wonderfully generous lead gift toward development of an ‘Island sized’ performance hall and gallery/classroom space, VAA Board members and staff have worked on these pre-visual-design projects. To date, we haven’t considered exterior designs – it’s just not time yet.
Under the thoughtful leadership of VAA Building Committee Chair Paul Martinez and Project Manager Kirk Robinson of the Robinson Company (and the P.M. on the Vashon Community Care project), much progress has been made on the following big questions:
Does the Vashon Arts Community really need or want this facility? YES. Key potential users, such as Drama Dock, Vashon Island Chorale, Blue Heron Dance, Vashon Opera, musicians, performing artists, etc., as well as many visual artists and teachers, have met in focus groups with LMN to compare their rock bottom requirements as well as wish lists. What they all agree on is the need for an additional facility and a renovated Blue Heron! The High School’s response was simple: ‘Hurry!’
Will it needlessly duplicate or compete with existing Island facilities? NO. The new facility is being designed as a complement to other spaces. We’ve shared our growing vision withVashon IslandSchool District, looked at other performance spaces and discussed possible seat counts (250 – 300?), acoustic features and back stage supports like dressing room – green room – class room combinations. This process has helped us find our niche.
Can VAA, and our Island, responsibly afford this facility now, AND, more importantly, successfully maintain it into the distant future? YES. Fundraising has been thoughtfully addressed, with initial seed money effective in seeking grants and leading a broader fund drive. That same money can later supply a reserve fund dedicated to securing future operations and maintenance. A key principal has always been to ensure ACCESS to the arts with ticket prices and fees that all Islanders can afford!
At some point the “look” of the building, and the entire arts campus, will finally need to be designed, and for that we’ll continue to reach out to our Island neighbors. Future articles and meetings will be used to gather more of your input. Your participation will help guide us toward the request we’ve heard from so many Islanders: ‘work hard to create the right facility that will bring Vashon Arts to Vashon Islanders’. We promise to do that, both inside and out!