A Message from Allison Halstead Reid
October 20, 2020
Dear VCA Community,
As many of you know, VCA has been on a rollercoaster journey since March, navigating the ups and downs of suspended programs, staff layoffs, and adapting to ongoing changes with each week that goes by. But dare I say we have been fortunate? I believe what will see us through this period of uncertainty is the simple fact that we are not solely dependent on one program. Most arts organizations have 1 or 2 programs – a theater company might produce a season of plays and offer up a summer enrichment program, or another may focus more on being an event venue relying on concerts and rental income. For VCA, we have 5 distinct program arms – arts education, dance, performing arts, visual arts, and Vashon Artists in Schools. In addition, we also offer our campus to many other non-profits and businesses who need a rental venue or seasonal home for their works. Even with several programs temporarily suspended or limited, we have been fortunate to keep other programs moving forward. I firmly believe that because of our multi-faceted programming, we will survive this crisis and remain a resilient arts organization. In turn, our survival will allow us to continue to nurture and celebrate the arts on Vashon.
With safety measures in place, VCA’s gallery was able to re-open in June. In July, our Arts Education and Dance programs were able hold to summer camp classes using our outdoor spaces. Our Vashon Artist in Schools (VAIS) program was able to pivot to online instruction for several residencies in the spring, and this fall continues to bring teachers together with artist instructors to benefit students in the virtual world. However, modified, these programs have allowed us to keep artists engaged through selling their works in the gallery, employing artists to teach and share their talents with our youth, and serving our community through the arts.
Our theatre may remain closed to the public, but livestreaming broadcasts have allowed us to continue to bring events to you. We have shared our production capabilities with other non-profits who do not have their own facilities to broadcast from, or lack the equipment and crew to video record their work. In fact, we’ve provided our spaces for several virtual fundraisers that have generated raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for other charities – just this week, Kevin Joyce & Martha Enson of EnJoy Productions, hosted an online virtual fundraiser for Planned Parenthood using our stage that raised over $750,000 for their programs! Whim W’Him Contemporary Dance Company spent several days filming a new work on our campus that was featured on their new video-on-demand platform – keeping their audiences engaged in a new way. We have also partnered with the new Vashon Repertory Theatre to broadcast their play readings to our community. It’s a joy to see theater artists on a stage again, talent shining, even if we must watch from afar through a virtual landscape.
The variety of arts we serve truly make VCA unique – I honestly do not know of another organization in the region that operates with such breadth of programming. Our success with many granting organizations and private foundations this year has shown that we are valued across the region as a leading center for the arts. Putting in place a more robust and consistent process to actively pursue foundational support has seen us awarded grants from 4Culture, The Rose Foundation, ArtsFund, Washington State Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Harvest Foundation, King County, Vashon Partners in Education, and Norcliffe Foundation. We will continue to grow this critical and much-needed source of our annual operations income.
VCA has begun the process of evaluating our campus facilities as we work to prepare our staff and community for the day we can re-open our Kay White Hall to the public and bring students back into the classrooms and dance studio in the Blue Heron Education Center. Creating a re-opening plan is a necessary step. With so many different venues, of all sizes, across our state, there is not a one-size fits all model to follow. We recently reached out to Rick Wallace with VashonBePrepared, to help us bring together a team of experts from The Medical Reserve Corps that would work with us to study our campus and provide critical insights and recommendations in order to craft a thorough and safe re-opening plan. We are grateful to have the support of members of our community in this endeavor, and we look forward to sharing our plans with you when we are ready.
Much To Be Thankful For
As we enter a time of year when gratitude and giving are at the forefront of our minds, all of us at VCA are thankful to live and work in a community that cherishes the arts, and for the extraordinary supporters who have made VCA a priority in their charitable giving plans. Many of you have made gifts to our Resilience Fund, purchased future ticket passes for when we re-open, bought auction items at our 2020 Masquerade Gala Art Auction, donated to our livestream events, acquired works of art from our gallery shows, or enrolled your child in one of our outdoor summer or fall education offerings. You are the reason we remain resilient and we cannot thank you enough.
To the many volunteers that give their time and talent to VCA – we are grateful. At a time when our staff is greatly reduced, it is our dedicated pool of volunteers that we have relied on to help us when needs arise. Your commitment to service and your love for the arts inspires us.
Together we remain resilient and hopeful that the arts will always endure!
-Allison Halstead Reid, Executive Director