Member Reflections: Seattle Center Outing

July 21st was a beautiful summer day in Seattle. 30 WA Women’s Foundation members gathered at Seattle Center for the unique experience of visiting 3 past grant recipients on their home turf:

Intiman Theatre, 2016 Merit Award Winner, hosted us for a lunch where members connected with Intiman’s diverse summer cohort of Emerging Artists. The Intiman Emerging Artists are 70% people of color and 60% identified as female. More on the program in the reflections below.

The Vera Project, 2006 Pooled Fund Grant Award Winner, led us on a tour of their concert and arts creation space for young people that our grant helped to fund. The Vera Project provides classes, camps and working space for teen and young adult artists to create visual art and music.

Seattle Shakespeare Company, 2011 Pooled Fund Grant Winner, led a discussion about their touring productions our grant funded, which help bring Shakespeare to life for high school students across Washington State – some of whom have never before seen live theater.

Read post-event reflections from two WA Women’s Foundation members below.

Photo of Washington Women's Foundation member Christine Atkins

Christine Atkins, 
WA Women’s Member since 2012, 2016 Pooled Fund Grant Committee

When we visited Intiman Theatre to meet the artists in the summer program, I was pleased to see that everything that Intiman told us about this program during the grant and site visit process was true.

The lunch was an intimate and fun way to meet the Emerging Artists. Our members chose a name out of bag to match us with an artist to meet one-on-one or in small groups. We gathered up our box lunches and dispersed across the Seattle Center campus to soak up the sun and to get to know each other.

I was paired with Jay, a woman from New York City who is trained in acting, directing and dance. Jay said that as soon as she learned about Intiman’s program, she jumped at the chance to explore the many aspects of working in theatre. She was truly impressed with Intiman’s dedication to their participants and their vision of having more diverse faces and voices seen and heard in theatre. Jay confirmed that Intiman’s program is the only one of its kind working to promote diverse people and their work in the arts, and that Intiman truly works to help their participants get a “leg up” in the business through their contacts. Jay is planning to move to L.A. by the end of this year, and she was impressed that Intiman made contacts for her in L.A. to get her going on the next phase of her career in a different city. But we won’t be losing her forever –  after our meeting, Jay contacted me to let me know she is already in negotiations to produce a play here in Seattle this fall!

Even though Intiman did not win the “big” Pooled Fund Grant, we learned that our $2,000 Merit Award afforded them the opportunity to have the Emerging Artists’ culmination Showcase in the Leo K Theatre at the Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Photo of Washington Women's Foundation member Sally Olson

Sally Olson, WA Women’s Member since 2015, 2016 Pooled Fund Grant Committee

This past year I served on the Arts & Culture Work Group of the Pooled Fund Grant Committee. Our visit to Intiman Theater’s Emerging Artist Program was of special interest to me, since this program was one of the final two choices for the Arts & Culture grant.

I met Klara Cerris, an actor from El Paso, TX, who shared her experience of the program with me. Artists participate in educational workshops, visit prominent arts organizations in Seattle, prepare for performances and build relationships with one another and with professionals in the community. It is an intense and rich experience for them.

Klara and I especially connected over the concept of identity – she has been exploring this personally as part of the training program. Klara grew up in El Paso as a daughter of Mexican immigrants. She described to me the complexity of not being fully accepted as Mexican or as American. She found that her time far from home in Seattle has helped her to explore her own identity. And, through the Intiman’s program, she has met other artists with similar journeys from all over the country and the world.  What a magnificent experience for her!

After the visit to Intiman, I was thrilled to attend the Emerging Artist Showcase on August 7 to see the performance of three short plays written by women of color, including one playwright who is a member of the Intiman’s summer cohort, Inda Craig-Galvan (Look for her play in the future – “Black Super Hero Magic Mama.” I am hoping it gets produced in full by a local theater.). My new friend Klara acted in the two plays by Adrienne Kennedy, focused on the topic of identity and the experience of a minority woman in America.

What a gift for our community – to have these young artists working and sharing their talents with us. Intiman is serving a great need here by bringing diverse artists to Seattle and lifting them up with quality education and exposure to the arts community.  I am excited to follow Klara’s career here in Seattle during the years to come.

At the Seattle Center on July 21, I was additionally gratified to visit The Vera Project and The Seattle Shakespeare Company, two organizations that also help young artists in developing their identities and expanding their talents.

Attending the summer event at the Seattle Center made me realize one significant reason I was drawn to the Arts & Culture Work Group, even though I come from a social service work background. It is through the Arts that we learn about ourselves and about others. When we allow ourselves to be confronted by challenging works, our notions of who we are and what we value are tested, and we can recognize what we share with those who seem different from us. In our increasingly diverse nation, I believe this is foundational for empathic understanding and social change.

These three organizations and many others are essential for a rich culture exchange. Arts organizations need our ongoing support to keep up to date in technology and equipment and to grow to serve more young emerging artists who will enrich our city and State.

Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformative grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us.

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