By Genevieve Morton
Special to the Reporter
Mercer Island is an idyllic place to live, yet I’ve always felt like the downtown was missing something. In 2006 my husband and I moved to Mercer Island, a stone’s throw from the house where he grew up. Like many before and after us, we were attracted to the best in the state schools, parks and fields, the proximity to Seattle and the community.
We were also pleasantly surprised to learn there was a robust arts community including the nationally recognized Youth Theatre Northwest, the Children’s Dance Conservatory, Russian Chamber Music Foundation (led by an internationally acclaimed pianist), the list goes on. Yet these artists lack a place to showcase their work, a place for all generations to attend concerts, lectures, plays, films, or to create and exhibit art. Mercer Island Center for the Arts was inspired three years ago to fill this void.
Our story is not unique. Most of our neighboring communities have established arts centers over the years. Just last week, I was on Vashon Island and visited the Vashon Center for the Arts. They recently completed a stunning 20,000-square-foot facility that hosts performances, lectures, classes, a fine art gallery and dozens of events from jazz and Shakespeare to outdoor movies.
By comparison, Vashon has less than half our population and just over half the median household income. The art community on Mercer Island has followed a similar trajectory and now we have the opportunity to create an artistic and civic landmark of our own. My family’s support and enthusiasm for MICA extends beyond our appreciation for the arts. An art center will help revitalize our growing business district, create a unique gathering place for people of all ages and give our town a heart center.
A broad coalition of Islanders from all walks of life — community and business leaders, artists, students — are working hard to realize the vision of such an art center. They are actively seeking community feedback and input on the process as the project moves beyond the conceptual stage. Your voices and participation is critical to our success. We invite everyone to join us on this journey to shape our future. When an art center is up and running, everyone will wonder what we did without it.
Like the surrounding communities, this is Mercer Island’s opportunity to establish a place to where we can come together as individuals and families, neighbors and friends, to listen to music, watch shows, dance, sing and thrive. I invite you to join us is supporting the Mercer Island Center for the Arts, for all Islanders.
Genevieve Morton is a board member of MICA.