On January 4, 2007, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception is one of several events whose purpose is to formally dedicate the Edmonds Center for the Arts. Previous events -- beginning with a Cascade Symphony Orchestra concert in October -- have already taken place here in recent weeks, and in two days a gala dinner and grand opening program will feature singer Al Jarreau (b. 1940). Next week the "2007 Preview Season" will begin with a "Coming Home" concert by three local groups for whom this new venue will be home: the Cascade Symphony Orchestra, the Sno-King Community Chorale, and the Olympic Ballet Theater.
Familiar But New
The center was brand new and located in a structure built in the late 1930s adjacent to then 30-year-old Edmonds High School near the downtown business district. For almost 70 years the building remained a focal landmark on a corner that was a community-gathering place with its school, the auditorium, and sports facilities. The high school itself was demolished in 2006, but the gymnasium remained along with this auditorium, which had continued to serve the community even during years of mounting disrepair.
It was renovated into a model state-of-the-art 900-seat venue with soft colors, refined acoustical treatment, modern production equipment, and, the public is noting, comfortable seats! (At one opening event, the audience chuckled and cheered when a pile of the original and uncomfortable but now discarded wooden seats appeared on a screen.) New lighted lettering “EDMONDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS” now gleams across the curved exterior of this familiar, yet new, art-deco building.
A Dream Come True
The dream of a new auditorium for the area has long existed, despite several failed attempts over recent decades to build one in Edmonds and in neighboring communities. But this effort, aided by a recently created public-facilities district, governmental support, extensive fundraising, and local enthusiasm, was successful. It reflects how, over 50 years, the cultural climate of Edmonds has developed.
Along with the three permanent tenants, the auditorium will host other local and traveling groups and be available for rental. As Edmonds, like many other communities, grapples with how to incorporate older, historically significant structures into the framework of its modern life in the twenty-first century, this arts center will shine as a successful example.