On Sept. 17, the Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) and the Mercer Island City Council held a study session to discuss what was learned from the Community Visioning Dialogue, and plans for a community arts center moving forward.
Throughout the summer, MICA engaged with a cross-section of the community in large and small gatherings, with more than 200 residents face-to-face and nearly 1,000 people through an online survey, according to a MICA press release. Participants shared their desires for the future of arts and culture on Mercer Island.
Through the discussions, key takeaways were: strong support for an arts and culture center, the need for a centralized space for the arts and a desire to unite and strengthen the existing arts community. Concerns about the logistics of an arts center were also noted, including parking, location, cost and sustainability. The information gathered made a clear consensus that a space for the arts is indeed wanted and needed on Mercer Island, according to MICA.
Once published, the full Community Visioning Dialogue report will be available online at the MICA website. MICA also will share its findings with the community a 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.
In a letter to the city council dated Aug. 23, MICA conveyed its strong and clear intent to be a key part of the city’s proposed mixed-use development on the site that housed the Tully’s coffeeshop. A new space for the arts at the location would stimulate economic vitality, be a dynamic addition to Town Center and leverage the Sound Transit opportunity, providing a beautiful gateway to downtown, the letter stated. MICA wrote that it can uniquely and powerfully fulfill the community need for creating a space for the arts.
With the input from the Community Visioning process and a possible new location for an arts center, MICA’s next step is to plan and launch a capital campaign.
“We’re almost there — the board and staff have been waiting for a long time to get into a campaign and get an arts center built,” executive director Paul Shoemaker said. “As long as the site pans out, we see the time is near.”
MICA noted in a press release that it intently listened to the community. As one survey respondent noted, “MICA would serve a great purpose if it helped pull together all the disparate art and culture on the Island.” Enthusiasm for creating a centralized space for the arts is a growing wave and brings a broad base of support, ready to begin to push forward.