MICA is only solution to keep YTN on Island | Letter

I am writing this letter in response to Mr. Dickey’s letter entitled “win-win-win for arts, school district, park.” Sadly, the Mercer Island High School Performing Arts Center is not an option for Youth Theatre Northwest’s future home. YTN produces 10-plus shows per year and for the past two years, the Mercer Island School District has bent over backwards to make it possible for YTN to use their facility for one of those 10 plays. The only reason this is feasible for MIHS is because our summer show rehearses for only three weeks, compared to the six to eight weeks that our school shows rehearse.

MIHS staff usually uses those three weeks to clean, inventory and repair equipment but, they have adjusted their schedule to allow YTN to use the theater. We are so grateful for their generosity. MIHS has a wonderful and busy program that cannot provide renters with multiple weeks of space during the school year. Therefore, the MIHS PAC is not an option for YTN’s new home.

YTN has performed at the Stroum Jewish Community Center theater, but it is cost prohibitive given what the space can offer. There are not enough dressing rooms, no orchestra pit, limited lighting and hours to use the theater. Therefore, we are renting the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in Seattle for this year’s winter musical, “Beauty and the Beast.”

YTN and the City Council have spent thousands of hours since 2013 researching and exploring options for YTN’s new home. MICA at Mercerdale Park is currently the only solution to keeping YTN on the Island. YTN has been a wonderful community asset for the past 33 years but will leave Mercer Island if an on-island solution cannot be made. It is time for our city’s leadership and community to step up and commit to keeping YTN on Mercer Island.

Jessi Wasson

Youth Theatre Northwest development director