LETTER: Bainbridge’s BARN could provide inspiration for VCA

George Wright’s letter reminiscing about Vashon Allied Arts brings attention to an opportunity (“Have we lost what we loved,” Jan. 31) With all respect for the Vashon Center for the Arts’ board, one could fear the logistics of fundraising, constructing and operating a world-class performing arts center might result in a board having different priorities than the board of a simple artists-for-artists organization whose primary purpose is to benefit community members who make art.

Consider that Bainbridge Island also has an arts organization, whose efforts of the last decade resulted in raising $8 million to build a world-class community maker space. Bainbridge’s BARN provides artists, students, teachers, entrepreneurs and DIYers with resource-rich work spaces for ceramics, textiles, woodworking, metalwork, printing, cooking, computers and electronics, media production and more. BARN has become an instant community hub, a destination for students, parents, everyone doing every kind of project under one warm roof. Talk about something for island teens to do at night. Go tour BARN — it could inspire you to think bigger. Think of what could be, if a handful of individuals who know how to secure public and private support at this level were to direct their energy toward realizing such a facility.

The Vashon Makerspace, an offshoot of the labor-of-love Vashon Tool Library, is struggling to get traction to open a community maker space of the most modest scale. The makers would benefit from enthusiastic volunteers and supporters and perhaps a new board member or two experienced at larger-scale fundraising.

I shudder to criticize VCA, but it remains a magnet for scarce resources that with a different vision could benefit a far larger community.

The dream of a community art-education-maker space presents an opportunity for VCA to broaden its scope and reach out. It’s also an opportunity for individuals who wish to support the arts to work in support of the Vashon Makerspace vision. We’d all benefit from an arts organization with broader and more ambitious objectives for involving our entire community in making art, art in the broadest sense.

Also, see bainbridgebarn.org and vashontools.org/makerspace

— Bob Powell

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