VCA blooms with a full season of shows coming up

Vashon Center for the Arts has prepared a complete season of events for the next year.

Vashon Center for the Arts, having battled its financial way back from the deprivations of the pandemic years when audiences shrank and money was tight, is now joyously looking to the future.

Last month, a 26-page brochure arrived in islanders’ mailboxes, heralding something never before done by VCA — the announcement of a complete season of events for September 2024 through the summer of 2025.

The four-color booklet announces upcoming shows in a variety of ways — by month, genres, lectures, student shows, partner productions, family-friendly events, and more — allowing islanders to plan ahead and bundle tickets to receive substantial savings for many of the shows.

The best ticket price of all — free for audience members 18 and younger — is available for more than half of VCA’s shows and talks.

For Allison Halstead Reid, VCA’s executive director and the curator of its artistic programming in the Kay White Hall, making shows accessible to young people and families has been an important new initiative in recent years.

“We are committed to arts-enriching experiences for youth, and building that next-generation audience for VCA,” said Halstead Reid. “I want to see families here. This weekend, I’ll see families of four coming to PianoFete to see world-class artists — no babysitters needed. When you’re young and have an experience like seeing a concert or ballet, it shapes you. Young people need to have access to the arts.”

According to Halstead Reid, putting together a whole season in advance was a heavy but thrilling lift.

“We’ve been able to program a great diversity of talents and events, plan our season further out, and make tickets available to our audiences sooner,” she said, adding that she will tuck additional surprise gems into the already-packed calendar of events as the year progresses.

What’s on the docket so far? Some of the shows mark the return of national artists who have previously packed VCA’s Kay White Hall — such as indie rock icon and islander Pete Droge, who will again play a show with his longtime partner in life and music, Elaine Summers. Comedy and cabaret stars Joel McHale, Paula Poundstone, and Dina Martina will also return to the Kay White Hall.

Other notable shows will include the Vashon premiere of soul legend Bettye LaVette, who just opened for the Rolling Stones.

Nobuntu, an internationally acclaimed female a cappella quartet from Zimbabwe, will perform a blend of traditional songs from their country, Afro-jazz and gospel. VCA’s lineup boasts Grammy-winning jazz bass player Richard Bona; Duende Libre, an award-winning trio that brings the rhythms of Cuba, Brazil and West Africa to their music; Stephanie Chou, an acclaimed composer, saxophonist, and singer who blends Chinese elements with Western jazz and pop; and Meow Meow, a powerhouse post-modern cabaret chanteuse.

Other bookings include guitar wizards Nano Stern, from Chile, and Luca Stricagnoli, from Italy, as well a host of rising artists who cross genre classifications: two-time Latin Grammy winner Gaby Moreno, Grammy-winner Aoife O’Donovan & Hawktail; The Harlem Gospel Travellers; Bachelors of Broadway; Joshua Radin and Ron Pope; Gangstagrass; The Wardens, and the “Irish music dream team,” Lunasa.

The season, of course, also makes room for beloved local traditions such as Vashon Center for Dance’s “Nutcracker,” “Original Works,” and annual spring dance concert, as well as four musicals presented by VCA’s thriving youth and adult musical theater programs — “Newsies,” “Mamma Mia,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “The Sound of Music.”

As always, VCA will also present works by partner organizations, Vashon Opera, Vashon Repertory Theatre, Drama Dock, Vashon Island Chorale, and Vashon-Maury Island Chamber Orchestra.

For Halstead Reid, it’s a moment to celebrate, after years of ups and downs which included a time during the pandemic when the organization’s staff shrank to only five full-time-employed (FTE) positions. Now, the organization is back up to 12.5 FTE, with those in place still wearing multiple hats at times.

Other performing arts organizations on the mainland, she said, are not faring as well, including Seattle Rep, which in June laid off much of its artistic staff.

Halstead Reid credits the Vashon community, who kept showing up at VCA even during some of the most difficult times in recent years — and enjoying such homegrown events as islander Bruce Phares’ “Jam in the Atrium,” a free series that brings some of the region’s most acclaimed jazz artists to Vashon. Visual art exhibitions and free community events, including last month’s Juneteenth celebration, have also welcomed islanders to the arts center regularly, she said.

VCA is also now fiscally sound, she said, having balanced its budget last year with a slight net profit from its operations.

“A lot of this is due to the community and artists who live here,” she said, returning to her excitement over being able to announce a full 2024-25 season. “What has led us here is the community’s goodwill, and turning out to participate. The thing that keeps VCA strong is its audience.”

To see VCA’s new season and purchase tickets, visit

Stars that will shine in VCA’s 2024-25 season include (top, left to right) Gaby Moreno, Bettye LaVette, Meow Meow; (middle) Pete Droge, Stephanie Chou, Richard Bona; (bottom) Joel McHale, Asiya Korepanova and Paula Poundstone. (Courtesy photo.)

Stars that will shine in VCA’s 2024-25 season include (top, left to right) Gaby Moreno, Bettye LaVette, Meow Meow; (middle) Pete Droge, Stephanie Chou, Richard Bona; (bottom) Joel McHale, Asiya Korepanova and Paula Poundstone. (Courtesy photo.)