Islanders write about YTN, MICA | Letters

MICA will keep YTN alive

“The world is a complicated place, and there’s a lot of division between people. The performing arts tend to unify people in a way nothing else does.”— David Rubenstein.

The arts are a way children can express themselves and do what they love: perform. To take it away from them would be a heartless thing to do. My family, friends and I participate heavily in Youth Theatre Northwest and we feel strongly about having the Mercer Island Center for the Arts built, to keep YTN alive. MICA will help thousands of children, give a home to many organizations and it would barely affect Mercerdale Park.

“Over the years, YTN has produced more than 200 plays for more than 200,000 kids,” says Manny Cawaling, executive director of YTN.

If this many people have been touched by YTN, think of all the other organizations and their children that could be using MICA that we would be letting down if we do not build MICA. There are a lot of kids interested in sports and athletics, and that is great, but what about the children who like theater and art? Mercer Island spends a lot of money building fields and courts for sports, so wouldn’t it be fair to let other kids have a chance to shine, too? Let the arty kids express themselves by doing what they love: sing, dance and act. I know that the students of YTN will do anything to save MICA and have a home for YTN. My sister, Caroline Atkinson, started a group called “Students for MICA,” and many kids have joined. They speak in front of classrooms and other groups to convince the students to support and donate to MICA. We need a place like MICA to let us keep having fun.

I have heard some people say, “Is MICA only for YTN?” The answer is no. MICA is not only for YTN, but for many other organizations as well.

“The facility would support YTN, which lost its home in 2014, as well as Music Works Northwest, Children’s Dance Conservatory, Island Youth Ballet, Music Studio Musical Minds Studio, Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle Russian Chamber Foundation, and Mercer Island Visual Arts League.” That is seven organizations that are counting on MICA to be built. We need MICA. We need to perform. We need to celebrate our talents. And most of all, we need to know that you will be behind us when we need you.

I think all lot of people are confused by how much of Mercerdale Park MICA will actually take. “Mercerdale Park covers an area of 30.9 acres including the abandoned recycling center which is 1.2% of the park. MICA will only compromise 2.7%, leaving over 97% of the park unchanged.” This means there will only be a tiny sliver of the land that will be taken by MICA. MICA will be mainly taking the abandoned recycling center. Is it so hard to just take a bit of the park and make it into the home for the arts on Mercer Island? I think MICA is a much better use of that area than an empty building.

In conclusion, Mercer Island Center for the Arts will help so many students participate in the arts. Some of these places, like YTN, are in desperate need for a home, and MICA is their only hope. Please, help us fulfill our goal. All we need is time, donations, and you.

Molly Atkinson

Islander Middle School, 7th grade

Does MICA have solid business plan?

Has MICA submitted a business plan to the city? If so, why do MICA executives think they will be successful in their business venture? Do executives have data backed by salient points and good business research? I certainly hope so.

Virginia Arnon

Mercer Island

Without YTN, my life would look very different now

In May 2013, I closed my last show in the building that was Youth Theatre Northwest, after experiencing 25 productions there as a student, actor and musician. In the four years since, I moved to Los Angeles, finished college and landed full-time work as a voice actor, producer and audio engineer. During those same four years, the YTN building was torn down to make room for Northwood Elementary. Without YTN, my life would look very different now. I certainly wouldn’t be making a living in entertainment.

When YTN lost its theater, I lost part of my home. The walls of that building told the story of decades of kids like me walking in with nothing but a spark of curiosity about the arts, and walking out armed with the confidence of self-expression that comes from theatrical experience. Part of what allowed me to step on stage—no matter how nervous I felt—was knowing that the stage belonged to me, and all the kids like me who came alive in the spotlight. As the years went by, I learned to step onto every stage in that building with confidence and comfort because I knew that was where I belonged.

I’ve moved away, but often at night I still dream that I’m back in that building, whose familiar stage allowed me more growth than any other classroom I’ve ever stepped in. For the benefit of every kid after me, I hope Mercer Island finds a way to replace that theater.

Carson Beck

Mercer Island

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