Why You Need to Write a Letter Now to Advocate for TPS to Manage the Playhouse at Seattle Center


Dear Friends and Colleagues:

TPS meets with the Playhouse Proposal review committee tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, Your letters are needed now (instructions at end). The lease of the former Intiman Playhouse will be awarded either to Cornish College of the Arts (private arts college) or to Theatre Puget Sound (non-profit arts advocacy org).

The Playhouse was built by taxpayers for the 1962 World’s Fair with the expectation that it would become a community asset. It is part of the city’s Theatre District. Make sure our PUBLIC venue doesn’t get put into PRIVATE hands. Make sure you have the real possibility of a place ON stage instead of being relegated to the audience. Make sure the Playhouse continues to operate as a space for performance and NOT primarily as a space for education with performance as a byproduct.

Cornish’s proposal leans heavily on its $3mill operating reserves as a reason why it should be awarded the Playhouse; this is to impress, but the fact of Cornish’s cash reserves is not substantive to the proposal. The Cornish proposal ultimately will send less revenue to Seattle Center. TPS offers a revenue-sharing model with Seattle Center that has been well-vetted in its 13-year track record of success and, moreover, it actually serves to minimize risk due to the number of organizations it would involve. TPS has been managing Seattle Center space and making it available to you for rehearsal and performance since 1999 — at below-market rates; Cornish is not in the business of rental facility management, which fits nowhere in the Cornish mission.

We all value and appreciate Cornish’s presence in our community, but that does not mean awarding lease of the Playhouse to Cornish is the better choice. Cornish needs to dip into its impressive operating reserves and  come up with another solution to its space issues — not reduce the number of performing spaces accessible to area artists. The Cornish proposal is slick and sugar-coated, but don’t be fooled: its focus is on serving Cornish and Cornish faculty and students (who come from 47 states and internationally — not just our area). It makes claims to diversity and expansiveness, but the claims do not — when scrutinized — hold up in a manner that truly benefits the local arts culture or Seattle Center.

TPS is an arts advocacy organization. It is and always has been here to support us, the performing artists of Puget Sound, and to build opportunity and develop our operational knowledge and capacity. And the benefits of TPS’s efforts and existence are not restricted to TPS members. Whether you realize it or not, the existence and efforts of TPS have benefited you as an artist in this region. TPS serves a widely diverse community of performing artists from all disciplines. It serves the artists of the region who produce work in and for audiences of the region.

We, the artists of Puget Sound, have rented and produced in the TPS-managed spaces at Seattle Center for 13 years. We and our audiences have paid for parking in the nearby lots or bought Metro tickets to bus in and keep passenger numbers high so lines to Seattle Center continue running frequently. We have supported food and beverage venders, and more. We and our audiences have contributed to the bottom line of Seattle Center and its vendors and business associates more over the years than the Center ever expected when it first contracted with TPS to manage space. WE are taxpayers who have made your home in this region.

We all MUST make our support of TPS known now or we risk losing this performance space. It hasn’t been widely broadcast, but the separate scene shop space that had been part of Intiman’s real estate was not subjected to the public proposal process and was already, quietly, awarded to Cornish. It is no exaggeration to say that the Playhouse could, just as quickly, be awarded to Cornish and its cash reserves without your intervention… at which point your next best hope of being in that space will be as an audience member paying 3x more for tickets than the Cornish population pays.

Moreover, we risk losing out on what could be a historically significant development for Puget Sound artists and audiences if the TPS vision of an arts incubator at the Playhouse were to become reality.

Read the proposals.

Mobilize your artist friends and your non-artist friends to write letters now.

Address letters to Kerry Smith and email to sc.customerservice@seattle.gov, cc’ing kerry.smith@seattle.gov (note, per Llysa Holland, Kerry is away from the office, so you do need to send to the customer service account). And while you’re at it, cc TPS Executive Director Karen Lane  (karen@tpsonlineorg) so she knows about your support.

Thank you!



If you don’t know me, I am co-artistic director of Akropolis Performance Lab and doctoral candidate at the University of Washington School of Drama. I evaluate local arts and humanities activities for 4Culture, and I have taught theatre history for Seattle Children’s Theatre’s summer YAI program the last two years. I am also former editor of TPSNews, former TPS board member, former managing director at Freehold. Writing this post was my own idea, and the thoughts are my own; I represent only myself.


Facebook will not let me tag any more people, please share this post with all your artist friends even if they are not currently in the area!


About eclectictheater

Eclectic Theater is a professional theatre company in Seattle, WA., dedicated to producing and presenting original, contemporary and classic works for the stage and screen. Plays, Improv, Stand-Up and Sketch Comedy and more! Eclectic Theater is powered by Shunpike. Shunpike is the 501(c)(3) non-profit agency that fuel innovation in the arts by building productive partnerships, cultivating leadership and providing direct services to arts groups of all kinds. Learn more at www.shunpike.org.
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