VCA to hold town hall next week for island artists, wider community

The board of Vashon Center for the Arts will hold a town hall next Tuesday for island artists and members of the broader community interested in the work of the center.

The town hall comes at a time when some of the island’s visual artists have expressed frustration with VCA about changes that have occurred there and about its decision to close the Heron’s Nest. The Nest, as some refer to it, opened several years ago and sold the work of island artists until it closed in December.

VCA Board President Denise Katz said that the evening will include a question and answer period for people to raise any concerns they may have. Additionally, she said board members will address recent complaints they have received, ranging from those about the Nest to the cost of tickets for well-known performers, such as kd lang, who is performing a benefit for VCA and the Land Trust later this month.

“Our goal is to have an open dialogue with everyone,” Katz said. “The board needs to hear directly from the community if they have concerns.”

She added that there will also be an opportunity for islanders to get to know some of the VCA board members and learn about VCA’s plan for the future. She added that VCA has not communicated its plans as well as it could have — and that she has heard many misconceptions.

“We have been so busy creating the plan that we have not been sharing the plan,” she said.

Katz also said that VCA’s leaders can change those plans based on feedback they hear, and she encouraged those who attend to bring their ideas and concerns.

“We need to accomplish a plan together,” she said. “We have some great ideas, and we are open to expanding or changing those ideas.”

Katz said she first learned about some of the current concerns when she received an email from island artist Chris Beck in late December.

Beck, a co-owner of Waterworks Studio and one of the founders of Vashon Allied Arts, said she wrote the email because she had been feeling for some time that VCA was becoming more of a museum and performing arts space than a center for visual artists. The closure of the Heron’s Nest contributed to those feelings, she added.

She cited several concerns in her letter, including having gallery shows that last two months instead of one, high staff turnover and the poor condition of the Blue Heron.

In a conversation early this week, Beck said one of the improvements she would like to see come from the town hall is about communication, particularly with the island’s visual artists.

“Tell us about what we mean to you, what we can do for you and what you can do for us,” she said.

This town hall is the third town hall VCA has held since the new facility opened; the board intends to offer three more throughout the year.

Next week’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the arts center; islander Kevin Joyce will facilitate.