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

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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@soundpublishing.com.
Good night, John Boy, from another generation | Whale

When I was growing up in the 1970s, like many others I… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Electricity shortfalls and Toyota’s dose of reality | Brunell

When Toyota speaks, car buyers listen. Hopefully, our elected officials will as… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Are we driving more recklessly during the pandemic? | Roegner

Have you noticed — pre-snowstorm — more people taking chances with reckless… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@soundpublishing.com
Don’t fool yourself: COVID’s tentacles are long enough to reach even you | Robert Whale

From March 2020 until recently, it seemed to me that COVID-19 always… Continue reading

Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.
The cruising altitude of Christmas | Guest column

While flying back east over the holidays to speak at a church,… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Violent crime moves local mayors to action | Roegner

It is Christmas throughout the region, and Jim Ferrell, Nancy Backus, Dana… Continue reading

Sean Su (left), a first-generation Taiwanese American activist, was born to Taiwanese immigrants who escaped to the U.S. in the 1980s. Courtesy photo
Understanding the Taiwanese perspective | Guest column

Being Asian in America is a complex experience primarily because the term… Continue reading