Letters to the Editor

Youth Theatre Northwest is a valuable community asset

I am writing as a passionate member of the Youth Theatre Northwest community. Youth Theatre has been a second home to my son for many years and I cannot overstate how much I appreciate what the organization has given to my son and my family.

YTN has been an incredible asset to the people and children of Mercer Island for 26 years. For Island youth, there is so much to be learned by participating in professional quality theater and in so many classroom opportunities. Young audiences are exposed to theater with their peers playing the roles. Some of our young people have gone on to become professional artists. But the majority of students come away from Youth Theatre as confident and collaborative young adults. The theater changed their lives.

Instead of getting financial support from the city, YTN has been paying rent to the school district for many years on what is being described as a facility “in dire need of repair.” The city of Mercer Island supports athletic ventures — paying for expensive fields and facilities without controversy, and I do not begrudge these investments. But our community, with its reputation for educational excellence, cannot fail the arts. Other municipalities understand this. Bellevue is building a new facility for its youth theater with the support of the city and the parks levy. Because of city support, the theater is free for Bellevue residents. Kirkland also has built a performing arts center. Strong communities require investment.

Youth Theatre Northwest has paid its dues over a generation to become a beloved community institution and a necessity for so many young people. In formulating your plans for educational facilities, it cannot be ignored. I encourage our leaders to champion the organization that this community is so fortunate to have.

Lesley Bain

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