About

Mission

Vashon Center for the Arts, a collaborative and community-based organization, provides a center for the arts on Vashon Island, initiates quality arts experiences for all ages and creates opportunities for artists to perform and exhibit their work.

Land Acknowledgment

Vashon Island is the traditional homeland of the sx̌ʷəbabš (pronounced Schwa-ah-babsh) people, a once thriving Native community decimated by colonization. VCA is committed to stewarding this land, fostering creativity, and honoring indigenous culture through the arts.

Diversity and Inclusion

We celebrate diversity in all aspects of the work we do and support an environment of inclusion, racial equity, and social justice in our programming and operations. We welcome all individuals to our campus and steward them with respect and dignity. We hold our patrons and all affiliates to the same standard: our home is a center for all, regardless of race, place of origin, sex, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or class.

About

Together we built one of the largest and most comprehensive community arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest

For more than 55 years Vashon Allied Arts, and now Vashon Center for the Arts, has been a foundation stone for the island’s art and cultural scene. Since that time, the organization has grown in every possible way to become the largest non-profit on Vashon and home to five uniquely different program areas: visual arts, performing arts, arts education, dance, and Vashon Artists in Schools.

It was a constellation of members, donors, volunteers, patrons, friends, board members, and staff members that grew, supported, and loved our organization over that past half-century. The group numbers in the thousands and the footprints this family of supporters has left can still be seen stretching in all directions.

Thanks to the wonderful support of our donors, members, grantors, and patrons, in 2023 we were able to live our mission through our five program areas:

  • Blue Heron Education Center: 177 classes offered, 1271 students enrolled, 43 local artist instructors employed
  • Vashon Artists in Schools: 19 residencies, 31 teaching artists, 1,142 students reached
  • Visual Arts: 264 artists exhibited, 407 pieces sold, $109,000 artist commissions awarded
  • Performing Arts in Katherine L White Hall: 103 performances, 13 sold out shows, 19 non-profit partners, 43 events FREE to youth, and 15,224 tickets issued

But we do more than that. We are part of the greater Vashon artistic spirit, committed to the idea that Art is a necessary part of our present and our future, where Art, in all forms, leads us back to our humanity, to rediscovering our sense of joy and play, to laying full claim to our inner artist, to healing the world.  

For more info, click HERE for our 2023 Impact Report

Click HERE to take a 3D tour of VCA now

Performance hall/auditorium (capacity: 315)

Art gallery (capacity: 67)

Atrium lobby (capacity: 500)

VCA History:

VCA, once VAA, evolved from the Vashon Arts League, formed in 1949 by Island artist Fred Eernisse and two other notable Island artists, Norman Edson and Art Hansen. Their vision was a simple one – to show art created by Islanders.

Fast forward fourteen years. Phyllis Bradfield and another creative group of Islanders meet to revitalize the League and find their first of many temporary homes. They offer art, crafts and ballet classes at the old Lisabuela school house, off Wax Orchard Road. Today, the school is a private landmarked home. And in the barn a platform is built to serve as a stage for ballet classes held almost 50 years ago.

In 1963, the name and home changes that houses the dedicated visionaries. Vashon Associated Arts briefly resides at Cove Road Church. Led by Shirley Speidel, they find the old Boy Scout Cabin at Ober Park. The year is 1966, also the year they receive their 501 (c) status, making them the oldest private non-profit community arts organization in the State of Washington.

Once again, Vashon Associated Arts finds itself homeless when the Scout Cabin is demolished. But, something becomes permanent – their name. Kaj Wyn Berry calls the group Vashon Allied Arts. However, the new name does not solve an ongoing challenge. Where will they find a place to dig in? For almost a year, VAA finds refuge at the site of Bob’s Bakery and opens their first gallery.

Within the year the gallery closes. For 10 long years, VAA becomes a loosely knit group dedicated to the arts, without a place to call home. The organization nearly disbands and is rescued by Chris (Wheeler) Beck, who creates the current organization we know today, complete with board of directors.

They know they need a place to hang their art, and finally open the Arts Resource Center in 1978, now Sunrise Ridge. With a burst of renewed energy, VAA installs public art, initiates Vashon Artists in Schools program, launches the first Art Auction, publishes a book of works by Island authors and stages fantastic musical events.

A year later they move yet again, to the old Lutheran Church on Bank Road, where the Heritage Museum stands today, and name it the Blue Heron Center. Still, stability is elusive.

After only two years, VAA packs up and moves into the Odd Fellows Hall on Vashon Highway.  They bring with them the name – Blue Heron Art Center. And in 1988, they purchase the building; Vashon Allied Arts at last finds a home.

After 36 years at the same location VCA has grown, from a staff of four to a staff of 12 full time employees, from a handful of classes to 175 classes offered every year, from a dozen events to more than 100 per year, a full-fledged dance program, monthly rotating gallery shows and much more. VAA’s roots run deep and now we are ready to bloom into a true arts campus with a new stage, more sophisticated than the lovely barn of long ago. Thank you to all of those that came before us, to those that are here today and to the unnamed of tomorrow. Art is our history and our future.