The Mercer Island Center for the Arts will be the hub for creativity in our community.

Value of a cultural community | On Arts

  • Monday, September 18, 2017 3:30pm
  • Opinion

By Elliot Newman

Special to the Reporter

Forty-six years ago I visited Seattle on a business trip. It was not hard to fall in love with the beauty of the mountains, lakes and awesome scenery. I visited a place called Mercer Island and knew right away that someday I wanted to live there.

Well, 10 years later my family and I made that move. We felt that the Island had many of attributes that are important to my family including a good school district, a well-respected city government and a community with a value system that aligned with ours.

Six years after our move, I was elected to the City Council and two years later I was elected mayor of Mercer Island. My main platform was to “maintain and enhance” the quality of life on the Island. It was an outstanding city to raise our family, but at that time, the character of the Island had not changed in many years.

There were many unattractive cement and asphalt parking lots (usually empty) scattered over the entire Town Center. Ugly overhead electrical lines did not help the aesthetics that many residents desired. It has taken over 20 years for economic drivers to become appropriate for businesses to invest as envisioned by the council to make the Town Center into a vibrant center for our residents.

Now it is time for another enhancement to Town Center, and a much-needed addition to our community — a central venue for all the arts on Mercer Island.

Imagine a place in or close to the Town Center where all residents, and seniors in particular, could walk or drive a short distance to enjoy various forms of entertainment without being concerned about our new traffic woes.

The multi-use facility would be a building where people of all ages could attend and participate in a variety of different art forms and social events. These could include classes, lectures, films, exhibitions and social and private gatherings. Many of our neighboring cities have constructed buildings of this sort and have successfully created venues for their residents to enjoy.

One of the most powerful ways to bring people together is through the visual and performing arts. Creativity can spark our children’s interests and help seniors stay physically and mentally active.

Performers and their audience, a guest speaker and a questioner, an author and a roomful of strangers can share a new and special relationship. Several arts organizations on the Island, including the respected Youth Theatre Northwest, lack a permanent place to hold their practices, rehearsals and performances, and therefore cannot provide the full value of these benefits to our community. The Mercer Island Center for the Arts will be the hub for creativity in our community. A place where we celebrate values that tie us together. I applaud MICA for their efforts to build a venue so that we may enjoy all forms of art. I invite you all to join me in helping this vision of an art center on the Island become a reality.

Elliot Newman served as mayor of Mercer Island for two terms.

More in Opinion

What I learned about life from Mr. Rogers | Column on Faith

A monthly column by a Mercer Island pastor.

Best Buddies include everyone | Windows and Mirrors

North Creek’s new club this year works to promote inclusion and helps students make friends and connections.

Prom after parties and safety | Dear YFS column

Dear YFS answers community questions (submitted and posed).

Libraries are places of connection and community pride | Library column

Written by Lisa Rosenblum, the director of the King County Library System.

Take ‘eating clean’ to a whole new level

Avoid foods made with chemicals, support natural detox.

Are sheriffs above the law?

Washington voters have spoken on I-1639. Sheriffs need to set the stage to follow their oath of office - and enforce the law.

The difficulty of aging in place | Windows and Mirrors

Living on a fixed income in an increasingly expensive region is not easy.

Metzger says farewell to Reporter

Mercer Island Reporter journalist leaving staff after more than four years.

Talking with your children about gender

Youth and Family Services answers local questions.

Sound Publishing’s seven Eastside newspapers are Bellevue Reporter, Kirkland Reporter, Mercer Island Reporter, Redmond Reporter, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter, Issaquah Reporter and Snoqualmie Valley Record.
Sound Publishing’s Eastside newspapers are moving to new home in Kirkland

New advertising director joins Eastside news team

In lieu of a perfect world | Windows and Mirrors

Violence in the world will happen but we shouldn’t just resign ourselves to it.

A triangle, a round ball and the shape of things to come

Jerusalem International YMCA a beacon of peace.