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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Call to Order

The meeting called to order by Chair, Helen Martin, at 6:40 pm at the Luther Burbank Park Admin Building, 2040 84th Ave SW, Mercer Island, WA


Roll Call

Helen Martin, Judith Powers Leithe, Jane Ditzler, Tudor Sherrard, Kevin Curry and Beth Brennen. Absent:   Katalin Pearman, Tamar Babar and Ellen Hochberg.


City Council Present:

Councilman Bruce Bassett.



Diane Mortenson and Eileen Hemmis Trifts



(1)  Genny Rees and Nancy Axell were in attendance from MIVAL.


(2)  Sue Sherwood, Citizen of Mercer Island and part of the founding group of the arts council. Sue is here to share information on “The big Read” which will kick off on Mercer Island the first part of April.


This is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, and is designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The Big Read is envisioned as a partnership to encourage school age children, entire embrace reading and discussion of the same book.  Knitting our community together around this initiative is The King County Library System, The Mercer Island Rotary Club and District Rotary Foundation, The Mercer Island School District, The City of Mercer Island, and Island Books. Jack London's The Call Of The Wild has been chosen by The King County Library System as an enhancement of the 100th anniversary of the  Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush. 


Jane Ditzler stated that we have incorporated “The Big Read” into the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exhibition festivities on Mercer Island.


Sue stated that they applied to Mercer Island Rotary for some special grant money to purchase copies of The Call of the Wild.  They got the grant and Rotary was able to get a matching grant from National Rotary.  Additionally, the grant from Rotary, will sponsor Lance Rhoades to speak about the author of The Call of the Wild and show the movie White Fang. The whole community will embrace this book and talk about it.


Jane said the 6th graders from the French American School will be reading the book and then do an art project to hang in our gallery.  We will give this book to all of the 7th graders on Mercer Island, then catch and release to Aki Korosi 8th grade in Rainier Valley. We’re also planning to involve the city departments in some type of competition. We would give maybe five books to each department and they will pass them around.


The artist Bob Koonz is currently doing a series of wolves, and is very interested in this event.  Sue has set aside some money in the budget to bring these pieces to hang in the gallery.


Debbie Snyder at the King County Library has arranged for Gary Paulsen, beloved and acclaimed author of children’s books, to come and speak in the High School auditorium.


The library has really gotten on board by planning activities like gold panning and having a real dogsled on display. If kids bring a story to the library, they can exchange for a free smoothie  AMENDED  from Emerald City Smoothie. 


The chamber of commerce is encouraging their people to read the book as well.




Tudor Sherrard motioned to approve the minutes of February 11, 2009 with the following amendments.


Gallery Report, page 2, second paragraph, lst line:  Change “hunt” to “hung”.

Gallery Report, page 2, second paragraph, 2nd line:  Change “flowing” to “following”

Public Art Report, page 2, 4th paragraph, 1st line:  Strike “if our budget funds unfreeze”

Public Art Report, page 2, 7th paragraph, 1st line:  Change “Inooksook” to “Inuksuk”.

Public Art Report, page 3, 3rd line, Change ‘Sherwood” to “Kilka”


The motion was seconded and passed.


Chair Report

Retreat dates. City Council asked us to keep staff hours down, so to keep staff travel time down, Helen suggested that when weather is better, everyone get together for a picnic retreat at Luther Burbank Park.  Early May might be a good time, before we take on our new roles.  Helen asked everyone to check their calendars for May 3.


There was some discussion of the meeting format and making an attempt to be more efficient and keep staff hours below 900.  Helen suggested if chairs could a little more prepared with written reports, they be emailed prior to each meeting. We could have shorter discussions and take any necessary votes.  The point was brought up that there is an open meeting policy, so Bruce Bassett stated that any discussion or votes should be a part of the meeting.  Email exchanges should be kept to a minimum. He felt the time spent at meetings is very valuable time and it is staff time very well spent. He would recommend reminding everybody to stay on point.


Additionally, there was discussion of members supporting and helping other Chairs with their events. Judy Leithe recommended that each Arts Council member take it on themselves to attend at least one function of each of the other chairs – MMIP, Literary, Gallery, etc.  It was agreed that all of the chairs should definitely be asking other Arts Council members for assistance. It was also agreed that new members be assigned to work with a specific committee chair and given specific tasks or functions.  When advertising for new members, we should advertise what kind of help we need.  We should also advertise that this is a working board that attends Arts Council events.  Once a new member is on board, they should know exactly what they will be doing.  They should also be teamed up with an existing Chair.


City Council Report

Bruce Bassett reported that Youth Theatre Northwest is in financial trouble.  In response to a comments from Councilman Grausz that it would be a shame to see it go away and that we won’t be able to reproduce something like that, there was some interest in finding a way to keep them on their feet.  What came out of that is to understand whether 1% for the Arts can be spent on performing arts or just visual arts.   According to City Attorney, Katie Knight, you could make a change to include performing arts with a fairly minor change to the city code.


He encouraged MIAC to be thinking about what they would like to see happen and why so they can respond to whatever comes out of staff as a recommendation. The Arts Council should have a clear voice in whatever happens.


Friday morning this topic will be on the table at a Parks and Rec sub committee meeting. 


The Arts Council asked that the following concerns be addressed at this meeting.


·         Is 1% for the Arts a state law that requires that 1% of a public building has to go to public art.


·         Can the 1% be used for anything but tangible art? Beth Brennen could see doing this on a one time basis, but she would hate to see it set a precedent.  She felt the intent of the law was to enhance our community with public art.  Public dollars flowing to a non-profit at the expense of public art is of concern.


·         Can public funds be used to support a non-profit organization?  Kevin Curry questioned whether money should be taken away from public art to put toward non-profit organizations.  Anyone can see public art, there is no charge.  Youth theatre is an organization that charges for their tickets and performances. He felt we had to be careful in giving public money to non-profit organizations.


·         Jane Ditzler asked if this included the budgeted $60,000 the Arts Council has already approved for public art.  Bruce said it would be useful to know exactly what the Arts Council plan is for the $60,000 and able to put this forth in a compelling manner at the meeting.


·         Will Youth Theatre Northwest go in the hole again next year once these funds run dry?  Helen didn’t think the city council would put any money toward Youth Theatre Northwest without having a plan and knowing exactly what is needed now and in the future.  Diane said that they City Manager, Rich Conrad, is meeting with Youth Theatre Northwest prior to Friday to find out exactly what they need.


·         Jane Ditzler stated that she would be extremely worried to lose the Youth Theatre Northwest, and Arts Council  projects could be put on hold.  However, if it means the Arts Council will lose the money and never get it back in the future, she would say “no”.  She urged Diane and Bruce to consider this in their arguments.


Jane Ditzler made one last observation – we are in a recession and this is happening everywhere.  All over – galleries and artists all kinds of arts are having a difficult time. We have to make our case as clearly as we can and say, “ is this a one time thing”,  and ask what would the future hold for the 1% for public art if we do this?



Tudor Sherrard reported that all of the bands are booked for MMIP except for the Raretones. 


At the last council meeting there was some talk about moving the last show time up to be in tune with the Farmer’s Market.  His committee and he are having second thoughts.  They are concerned that once the band starts, folks will not want to leave the market with their groceries to sit and listen to the band.  Also the people that depend on performances being at the same time each week may show up later and the band will already be gone.  He suggested getting two separate bands next year or have the same one do an earlier show and a later show as well. 


Bruce commented that he discussed this with his wife, who is involved with the Farmer’s market. She felt the biggest logistical difficulty for the Farmer’s Market is that when the market shuts down at 3pm, they have a lot to do to get the farmers out of there.  They are supposed to have the street reopened at 4pm.  Bruce said they realized that it is probably not a very good idea to have MMIP and the break down of the market going on at the same time.  It might work better if the first program directly overlapped with the market and the second one be held that evening as usual. It was noted that the Farmer’s Market also has some entertainment of their own.


Literary & Shakespeare

Judy Leithe reported that the Literary Committee is wrapping up the film noir series.  Perry Lorenzo will give his last lecture for “The Ring” on April 23. On May 28 Lance Roades will give a presentation on Jack London and show the movie White Fang. Shakespeare’s 445th birthday party will begin with Jeff Wooly bringing honors English class to do a read off of their poems. We will also have the Hamlet film with Sir Lawrence Olivier. In July we will show the Looking for Richard documentary film by Al Pacino.


4 Culture

amended Diane Mortenson Beth Brennen reported that the Sister City Association has a student exchange taking place this summer.  Three students from Thonon will be here during Summer Celebration. We thought that among other things the students could be in the parade. We’re trying to think of other things they can do.  Coincidentally, the American exchange students will be going to Thonon at the same time as their summer celebration. 



In Katalin’s absence, Diane Mortenson gave an update on the art that was vandalized in the Sculpture Garden. Steve Jensen has cleaned up the Island Poles.  He feels that the best place for them is in indoors.  Diane asked if there is any place on Mercer Island in a public facility where the Arts Council thinks they can be partially covered?  She said that they can be put back out into the gallery, but will show wear and tear and require resealing every year.  Jane Ditzler suggested it could be part of the fountain that is planned for the Sculpture Garden.  Diane said she will check to see if that is an option.


Larry McLauglin is out of the country. He has been viewing his damaged sculptures via the internet. He thinks one of them is so damaged it may need to be remade.  He will get us an estimate for that.


Public Art

No Report


Community Relations

Jane Ditzler reported that the recreation guide is about to come out as well as the quarterly. The AMENDED new 98040 will Mercer Island Reporter will only give us a 2/3 page ad for June and one for October for our budget.


AYPE is getting bigger and more exciting. Jane voiced concern that we haven’t found anyone to take on the salmon bake.  Amber said we cannot request money from Rotary.  What we have to do is ask them to do it as a fund raiser.  Amber said we absolutely cannot do the BBQ ourselves.


Jane stated that Susan Kilka has been unable to find a builder for the display storefront.  She asked if Kevin and Tudor are interested in building this.  Diane said it could be stored at the caretaker’s cottage.  Jane said if we don’t spend the money on that, then we might have the $1,000 that we need for the raffle.  We would have to sell the tickets. The raffle ticket money comes back to Arts Council after the first $1,000 pays for the cruise.   We would have to find other places to put the items that would have gone into storefront.


Jane  wants to ask Senator Jarrett and the two representatives to come to the opening on the 16th, and if not, she will request they do a proclamation.


Staff Report

Diane distributed an updated 2009 workplan.  The update shows a cut from 1,065 staff hours to 900.  The last page shows the total staff hours.



The meeting adjourned at 8:25 pm


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