Arts and Entertainment

'O' so simple: new Vashon arts center keeps name short and sweet

Vashon’s newest arts and community center has just been named. The former Stewart Brothers coffee roasting warehouses have been given the simple name: O.

“The full name is ‘Open Space for Arts & Community,’” said Janet McAlpin, who along with David Godsey is owner and steward of the new facility. “We believe it’s a true description of the new mission of these buildings — to be an open space for arts and community use. And it has already begun to fulfill that purpose.”

McAlpin and Godsey, both acrobats, aerialists and founding members of UMO Ensemble, have been considering the name for several months. According to Godsey, everyone involved in the project quickly began to call the facility “O” for short.

“I began to research the letter ‘O’ as a symbol,” he said. “What I found helped us to realize that ‘O’ not only feels right, it makes a lot of sense.”

Godsey says he found that in many cultures the circle character “O” serves as a symbol of community, of coming together around a shared need or purpose.

“Often the symbol ‘O’ also represents endless possibilities,” Godsey added. “And that, quite literally, is what this facility is designed to provide.”

McAlpin said those possibilities include rehearsals, intimate and more expansive performances, classes, meetings and events.

Asked how “O” is doing so far, both are enthusiastic.

“We were just given 100 theater seats last month, plus we have 100 more seats coming to us this month,” Godsey said. “And we’re about to hire someone for our first paid staff position, which is exciting.”

The facility is also the location of an increasingly popular satellite of Seattle’s School of Acrobatics and Circus Arts, which recently increased its offerings of classes for youth on the Island.

Godsey reported that he and McAlpin continue to be approached by Island groups who have various specific interests in the facility. “‘O’ isn’t just a home for arts,” he explained. “There are a lot of great projects, events and programs out there looking for a place to land in this community. We’re beginning to see how ‘O’ could be home to many exciting opportunities.”

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