Friday, February 24, 2017

Arts-minded residents speak up

A fascinating city meeting took place at VALA Arts this Wednesday to get feedback from residents on the proposed Community Centers.  A diverse group attended, most notably Siri Bliesner LWSD director, Brian Carter of "4-Culture,"  Jane Wither, Vice-Chair of the Redmond Arts and Culture commission, Tanika Kumar Padhye, finalist for the city council appointment, Rosemary Ives, and Latha Anandamela (past Arts commissioner.)  We broke up in small groups to discuss the Centers.

Bear Creek student art on display at VALA
In my group we decided the re-purposing of Old Redmond Schoolhouse (ORSCC) was a top priority.   Siri took notes throughout our discussion; she indicated the district was very interested in trying to meet our needs! Siri had special interest in demographics. Most agreed the Center was highly used.  Brian Carter had interest in finding space for the Redmond Historical Society and education classes.  Latha said many East Indians are entrepreneurs and incubator space is needed. Several cried out for day care space. Of course, most of us wanted space for arts, not just digital arts, and some wanted a performance center.  I want partnerships for economy of scale so these centers will be affordable to all!

Jane Wither moderated our group.  She did a great job opening our eyes to possible locations for the centers, particularly for art and a performance center.  In four years light rail will come to Overlake and it's anticipated the Overlake Urban Center will be the most populated "neighborhood" in our city. I think Overlake is a good location for a performance center.  Jane mentioned developers might agree to install art on the lower floors of their buildings if they were given incentives to "build up."  A performance center with art could be a strong "pull" of visitors to Redmond, bringing economic vitality.  And, of course it would be nice to have more art space for us.

My wife participated in a different group.  She learned from "the tall lady," Carolyn Hope that LWSD was meeting with the city in March to discuss plans for ORSCC.  She thought VALA looked like a private club from the outside "scaring" people away.  Marlene Katz, the new VALA Manager told us they'll be putting in a few tables and chairs to make it look more inviting.


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