The Earth, Wind, Fire & Water show in the Sequim Civic Center features art by multiple artists including David Johannessohn. Susan Zarit, a member of the City Arts Advisory Committee, said people come to the Civic Center specifically for its art and for many of them it’s their first time in the building. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

The Earth, Wind, Fire & Water show in the Sequim Civic Center features art by multiple artists including David Johannessohn. Susan Zarit, a member of the City Arts Advisory Committee, said people come to the Civic Center specifically for its art and for many of them it’s their first time in the building. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim arts commission asks council for dedicated liaison, more funding

SEQUIM — The City Council plans to bring more artistic endeavors to the city next year.

Following a list of priorities provided by the city Arts Advisory Commission, council members will discuss possible funding options for 2019 on Aug. 13.

Some of those priorities include connecting Seal Street from Washington Street to the Civic Center with art and lighting, installing a new water feature or kinetic art piece on the center’s plaza, developing outdoor public art exhibitions and creating a new city staff position to work with the art community.

While specifics aren’t set as for what’s moving forward, city council members unanimously backed the commission’s priorities — with council member Bob Lake absent — July 23.

Sharon Delabarre, commission chairman, told city council members they “cannot lose sight that the arts are economically good for Sequim.”

She said events such as Sequim Lavender Weekend, and music and theatrical experiences bring people to the town and help spread the word about Sequim’s offerings.

“It’s supporting the very heart and soul of a community that we all want to live in,” she said of the arts. “It is important. The arts have always chartered humanities history and help to point us to new directions.”

In its four-plus years of existence, the arts commission has managed multiple projects, such as monthly art shows, Music in the Park and the Holiday Tree program with handmade ornaments from local fourth graders.

The six-member group continues to solicit and select permanent art work for the Sequim Civic Center.

Former Assistant City Manager Joe Irvin — whose last day was July 24 because he has accepted a job in California — said the commission has been “high-functioning” since its inception.

“Back in 2010 and 2011, many of the things in the [city’s] downtown plan are being put into fruition by this commission,” he said.

As mentioned, one of the commission’s proposals includes creating a staff position at about $77,000 per year half-supported between the City Clerk and Public Works budgets to serve as a liaison to the commission and city rather than splitting responsibilities between a handful of staff.

Irvin said the position could manage facility rentals, and various grants and contract management for some services.

Commission members also request $25,000 in 2019 for programs and they anticipate $8,500 in sponsorships to support the city’s summer concerts and Block Party. City staff reports there is $10,300 remaining in a $50,000 fund for arts at the Civic Center following its construction

Other commission priorities, include:

• Help update the city’s Parks Master Plan to include Cultural Arts priorities.

• Expand exhibition programs at other locations.

• Develop an artist registry.

• Develop outdoor public art exhibitions.

• Develop community-based outreach, classes and workshop programs.

• Investigate the establishment of a Certified Creative District, a geographically defined area where art, cultural, social, and economic activity takes place.

Jake Reichner, a commission member and art teacher, said he sees Sequim as a “spot ready to explode” for art.

“We have the people here to make this magic,” he said.

Reichner said when his dad Mike started Purple Haze Lavender and helped launch the annual Sequim lavender celebration, no one saw what it would become on the horizon.

“We have to believe Sequim is amazing and can always improve,” he said.

Council member Candace Pratt, who originally proposed the commission’s concept, said she supported the priorities but asked about the reasoning for outdoor sculptures at the city’s vacant administration building across Sequim Avenue from the Civic Center.

“We’ve got to start somewhere,” Delabarre said.

She said it’s “an easy initial target across the street.”

Ross Brown, vice-chairman of the commission, said: “We’ll start in a small area and see how sustainable it is.”

Council member Jennifer States told commission members she was thankful they included culinary offerings as a part of the artistic programs in Sequim and that many of her Seattle colleagues say Sequim is unique with its organic and culinary offerings.

“Art brings business to local merchants,” she said. “I believe that is true especially with the First Friday Art Walk and how essential that is.”

Delabarre said the updated Guy Cole Events Center could be a good location for food demonstrations and events in the future.

For more information on the City Arts Advisory Committee, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.

It meets at 3 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the Civic Center, 152 W. Cedar St.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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