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ECA Love Stories

Edmonds Center for the Arts friends and supporters share their heartwarming stories of love of the performing arts and remind us why even in our most dire hours, the arts light the dark and ensure our humanity. If you would like to share your performing arts love story with our community, please email Christina Kourteva at christina@ec4arts.org.

In my early teens, my older sister was an ardent thespian in high school, and she lured me to live theater and musicals often. I was hooked! I moved up to seeing performers like Josh White, Odetta and Lou Rawls in Washington, D.C. from less than 10 feet away, and Dave Brubeck, Joan Baez and countless more on stage. The experiences we get by having high caliber artists in our own hometown is unmatched in any town our size. Art sustains us - so we need to sustain the arts!

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When I was four years old, my big sister’s ballet teacher called my parents and asked if I wanted to be in the play she was directing. My parents said yes, and I had my first acting role… The Littlest Princess of Siam in The King & I. Soon after, my mother signed me up for dance classes since I wanted to be like my big sister. From ages 4 – 14 I took ballet and did 4-5 community theatre plays a year. I quit ballet at 14 because... it was beginning to interfere with my play rehearsals (and I was terrible at pointe). My entire childhood I lived and breathed for acting in theatre and ended up with a Degree in Theatre from Cornish College of the Arts. Every day I count myself incredibly lucky to be working in the arts.

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This is me at the age of four. It was about this time that I went to my first theatrical production, The Nutcracker. I had never seen anything like it and was totally amazed. This began my love of the performing arts which continues to this day.

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Here I am celebrating my third birthday and singing my heart out for my family. My parents discovered my love of singing and music early on and decided to enroll me in piano and solfege classes at the local performing arts center. Little did they know this would turn into a 10-year investment in piano lessons and a lifelong passion for the arts. I cannot remember a time in my life spent without music, and to this day, I consider the opportunity to pursue my passion for music and the arts, the best gift I was ever given. I see ECA as that special gift for the kids in our community – a place where they can discover the magic of music, dance, and theatre, find their unique artistic voices, and feel appreciated for their creativity, imagination, and for who they are! 

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There are no photos of a dorky me in the high school band, high stepping a Highland dance, or captivating a crowded community theater… because I have not done those things yet. My scrap books are stuffed with ticket stubs for plays, concerts, and dance performances. I am a consumer of performing arts.

 

As a child, my parents took me to classic musicals like "The Music Man" at St. Louis' outdoor Muny Theater. Seeing the Cowsills warm up for Eddie Arnold was my "gateway concert"—how lame is that?  As a younger man, I would sometimes forego necessities for my next concert ticket score. My friends expressed concern about my priorities. The Edmonds Center for the Arts is my hometown connection for performing arts. Great shows that feed my soul.

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Music and dance were a large part of my introduction to the arts. My parents met dancing to music. Dinner with my grandparents was followed by rolling back the furniture and dancing to all types of music. It was enchanting to watch them waltz and invigorating to watch them swing. One fond childhood memory is taking my father's extended hand to step onto his toes to learn basic patterns. Magic in the making!

 

Fast forward many years and that's me in the red skirt engaging in some spirited Scottish Country dancing at the Fort Worden Ball. I was a member of the Seattle Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society that hosts a weekend of professional workshops, dance parties, music, and Scottish culture. Dancers, musicians, and teachers come from all over the world to participate, share their talents, and inspire us to try out new choreography. It has enriched my own travels to pack my ghillies!

 

I have heartfelt gratitude for all the people who have expanded my horizons by expressing their own art and encouraged me in mine.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts exists to provide a cultural resource for our community - to engage, inspire, educate, and delight all ages. Come celebrate and contribute who you are to this welcoming and inclusive community.

 

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." ~Thomas Merton

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This photo is from a galaxy far, far away, where a band called Walk Don't Walk graced the basements of a few house parties and fewer bandstands. We played purely for the sake of performing the music we loved, wrote and arranged, in front of a small handful for friends and a future spouse. Bass players have a certain magnetism. From childhood on I've loved live music, and really, any live artistic performance. Each encounter with a live performer is an intimate connection between the artist(s) and the audience, where the art being expressed reaches past all barriers of embarrassment and ego to connect, and where the audience opens themselves, whatever their nurtured culture, to that connection.

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It seems like I've had a life-long love of music. Though no one else in my family was particularly musical or even listened to much music, I remember learning all the words to my favorite songs on the radio and ritually listening to Casey Kasem American Top 40 every week! I've been to many concerts through the years, traveled to other cities to see my favorites, and collected signatures and photos whenever I could. The band Lake Street Dive is one of my favorites. The first time I saw them, at the Woodland Park Zoo, they were the opening act, but it wasn't very long until they were headlining and selling out concerts! They were so gracious to their fans. It excites me to think of what the future holds for music and I’m proud to say that I’m a part of the arts in our community! Photo: Dina (behind) with members of Lake Street Dive.

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I started making music at a young age, singing and noodling around on my family's piano. Eventually, I discovered my mom's old guitar and started learning how to play when I was 14, singing along to songs. I joined the school chamber choir and jazz choir and started using ECA as a student performer, attending jazz festivals, and rehearsing for the Edmonds Jazz Connection All-Star Choir. In college, I joined Edmonds Community College's Soundsation and began running the DeMiero Jazz Festival at ECA.


Being a Stage Manager helps me connect with the music community and help other people be successful at making music, making sure their production needs are met, and getting each show running smoothly. The arts are a great way to bring different communities together to celebrate the expression of ideas and emotions. I like to think of songs as encapsulated emotions and try to work it into my songwriting and performing. I got into music because of a childhood stutter that hindered my ability to express myself, but with music, I had complete freedom to express myself fully. This is the freedom I like to help others find too, which is why I support the arts.

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Country music runs in my blood and is part of my family roots. I’ve been listening to country and bluegrass since I can remember, and so has my whole family. Since I was born, my Dad was a well-known musician and singer, and played all over Eastern Washington. Guitar, banjo, violin – you name it. He could play it all by ear and didn’t have to read music notes, and he had a loyal following. He could have had a career with Hank Snow, but I think he wanted the spotlight all to himself.

 

My earliest memory of falling in love with country music is listening to my dad and relatives playing and singing together. Later in life, I was lucky to see all my country heroes - Clint Black, Dwight Yoakum, Buck Owens... I jumped for joy when I found out that Clint Black was coming to ECA. I HAD to sponsor the show, and so I did! Ten family members came from the tri-cities to ECA to see the show. Photo: Glenna (second row, in the middle) with her family.

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I grew up in Staples, a city of nearly 3,000 residents in central Minnesota. While it is a small town, there is a thriving arts and music community. Through the dedication of the Staples Motley Arts Council, the Centennial Auditorium opened in 1991. For six years, I spent hundreds of hours in this remarkable space - rehearsing, performing, and watching other arts organizations share joy and a sense of community.

 

I now find myself living in Edmonds, another community that values performing arts. We are so lucky to have Edmonds Center for the Arts, a remarkable organization that brings performers from around the globe to our stage. They make space for local groups of all ages to share their passions with their friends and neighbors. My four-and-a-half-year-old daughter has already had the opportunity to perform at ECA, and she feels like it's HER place, much the same way that I still feel that the Centennial Auditorium is MY place. A place to feel welcomed and empowered.

 

Please help ECA to continue its mission to celebrate the performing arts and strengthen and inspire our community. Your generosity will allow ECA to give people a window into a new world, encourage them to incorporate the arts into their lives, and make Edmonds Center for the Arts THEIR place. Photo: Heidi at an Earth Day presentation at the Centennial Auditorium.

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It all started, and then the memories of "firsts" stream through my mind from then to now.  Opera, rock, jazz, classical, ballet, folk, modern dance and on it goes. And right in front of me, you, family and friends. It's local in Edmonds at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. ECA has been part of me since the very first show - Al Jarreau - back in January 2007. We've grown together as a family, me and the ECA, over my 9 years on the nonprofit Board and currently as part of the Emeritus Board and the Governance Committee. Now, more than ever, it is time to support the Arts and the ECA while we still can. We will come out of this not just to Give Big rather to make ECA blossom in the future. 

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This is me receiving birthday wishes from comic book characters on their way to a MOPOP event at Seattle Center. The arts, however encountered, enrich our lives by entertaining, surprising, and connecting us in countless ways.

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Yup that’s me, number one groupie for Arlo Guthrie, that exciting artist whose performances I've thrilled to twice at ECA--so authentic, so personable, as strong as ever musically after all these decades. Even I have performed at ECA, for eight years in the Sno-King Community Chorale. But my favorite performances have been in a supporting role, as a very happy volunteer for 10 years, who's thrilled to national and international performances of the highest caliber. But by far the most gratifying role I've played is supporting programs where I’ve witnessed how the arts actually transform lives. Initially very withdrawn, a woman at the “Ignite the Mind” series for people with dementia was hard to put down, singing and dancing even after the joyful session had ended. Then there was the boy who ran into a corner and turned his back on everyone upon entering the classroom where performers from Chicago Children's Theater engaged children with autism in cheerful play using just boxes and blankets. Before long this boy was just as engaged as all the other children. Indeed, the arts have the power to heal as well as transform.

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My stage career peaked when I was 4 years old. Though my participation as an enthusiastic audience member has continued for decades. I especially appreciate attending outstanding live performances at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. The array of talented artists is so vital in enhancing our lives and our community. Please join me in supporting ECA and bringing the arts to life for audiences of all ages.

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From the time I was a child taking piano lessons, my life has always been committed to the arts in some form. My piano lessons became violin lessons that then led me to perform with the symphony orchestra in Helena, MT where I grew up. Although my dream was to become a fashion designer, reality led me to complete a degree in art education. I taught high school art and ceramics in Montana and Washington for 38 years and have received national recognition for my role as an art educator. In my thirties, I took ballet lessons and love social dancing.

 

I have been a member of many arts boards and served many leadership roles in Montana and Washington. In Edmonds, I have served as an Edmonds Arts Commissioner, board member of the Edmonds Center of the Arts, and currently serve on the board of the Cascadia Art Museum. The creative arts have added a wonderful layer of enrichment to my life. Photo: Julie’s impersonation of Joan Baez at the Edmonds 4th of July Parade.

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Thanks to my parents, we learned to love the arts. This photo is actually from the Edmonds High School auditorium - now the comfortable and lovely ECA theater. My husband and I (I still live in Edmonds) love the ECA for its vitality, variety, and venue (and parking!)

 

Photo: The Edmonds Tribune Review c. 1956. Caption: Family Night - Typical of many families who come in a group to enjoy the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s concert here Thursday night were Mr. and Mrs. Gordon F. Esterberg of 18218 Andover Road, photographed as they came through the door. Their son Kim is receiving a program from usher Brian Bailey, little daughter Gail is in front of Kim, and Kari is in front of Mrs. Esterberg. Usher at the right is Jean Gorsuch.

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My performing arts career started as a toddler singing and dancing along with Barney (yes, the purple dinosaur) on the television in my living room. This evolved into church and community plays, school bands, choirs upon choirs and attending any type of performance that the performing arts series held in my small town. In the photo above, I am the one dressed in brown. I was the most perky donkey there was in that church play! While in college, I was a Company Manager for a traveling theatre group that performed one-act plays at local schools, senior living facilities and other civic organizations. It was during this time that I found true motivation and satisfaction in being “behind-the-scenes.” Seeing the true joy of a child who had just experienced a play for the first time had me hooked. This led me to pursue a career in arts administration so I could continue bringing the joy of arts to others.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts is truly a special place. There is no other place like it that brings people together like it does in our community. One of my favorite things to do when attending a performance at ECA is to stand to the side and watch the pure enjoyment of the audience watching and engaging with the performer. ECA brings light. It brings joy. Support ECA today to ensure its bright future and that it can continue to be a beacon for the performing arts.

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I grew up in a theatre family and as you can see - I was bit by the bug early. When I was about 5, I had an agent and I went on some commercial auditions, but my favorite part was getting McDonalds with my mom afterward, so I didn’t go on many. My love of acting and the arts took me through many adventures, including grad school in New York. Today I love spreading the love of arts and performing to all the little ones who come to ECA. It’s a delight to see their faces light up with imagination!

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I've been told that when I was younger, I had the personality of an "old soul". I remember sitting with my great-grandmother and watching my sister and other older kids sing, dance, and perform. I would repeat after her, "That was good, honey!" as their performances came to an end. For me, it didn't matter where they happened in the neighborhood parades, at local sports games, or church and community events, I always saw myself performing one day and hearing my great-grandmother say to me, "That was good, honey."

 

When that day came, I was in Kindergarten and I'd discovered that kindergartners could be on the majorette team. That team became the activity I looked forward to the most. I found myself dancing and practicing my routines everywhere I went because it brought me so much joy. Whenever I'd get all dolled up and put on my uniform, I felt that my light was shining, and no matter how nervous I was or how many things had gone wrong that day, that light was still there because I was doing what I loved. Though I no longer dance on a team, I still find myself dancing and turning on that light for myself because it is a reminder of so many happy moments. And when I see dancers, singers, actors, and so many talented artists on the ECA stage, I smile because their lights are shining so bright, and even if I don't get the chance to express my appreciation to them personally, I always say to myself, "That was good, honey!"

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Music was a major influence in my life from an early age, whether it was listening to early Rock & Roll on the radio, Big Band music on the record player from my Dad’s collection of 78s, my Mom practicing choir music, or an amateur hour at our piano. Here I am (in the red sweater) with my sister giving our congenial family dog piano lessons. Her technique was actually pretty good!


The sheer variety of music that continues to be a part of my life has enriched me beyond words. Please join me in supporting ECA in its mission to educate, inspire, and entertain our diverse community through performing arts!

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I was privileged to grow up in a home that radiated with every form of the arts partly because of my very creative, active and talented mother, Suzanne Muir. She had the voice of an angel and sang with the Leonard Moore Chorale, Seattle Symphony, and The Seattle Opera. As the various performances came and went, our home was filled with music, unrelenting talent and gatherings.

 

Art has always been a part of my life and I have zero memory of the absence of it. At an early age, I participated in plays, music and art lessons, and was the recipient of the Edmonds Arts Festival juried children’s poster contest one year. I feel such gratitude to have experienced a life so full of “LIFE”, color, beauty, music, and art in every form. We live in a city that warrants the continued financial support needed, even during these difficult times for the first ever Creative Arts District City in Washington State to continue to thrive; we would be lost with the absence of all of these wonders in our lives. I cannot imagine a life without the presence of art, and here at ECA specifically, the performing arts. Photo: Marni with her mom Suzanne Muir.

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Why do I support ECA?  Why are the performing arts important to me? The answer to both questions is in this photo of my daughter and me. This was taken right after she performed on stage for the very first time at Barclay Shelton’s Dance Theatrics Performance in 1999, dancing to “Hush Little Baby” with her mom. The smile on her face and the light in her eyes that I saw that night, and many performances after that as she continued to dance all the way through college, are the answers to those questions. Over the years, I have seen the same light and the same smile on hundreds if not thousands of little faces as a supporter of dance in our local community. There is no doubt in my mind that the joy that performing arts can bring, along with the positive influences of poise, self-confidence, and discipline for young girls and boys, are worth supporting any way I can. Please join me in supporting ECA in their goal of spreading that light and joy.

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I can point to the exact moment I fell in love with theatre. It was the day in Junior High when I opened an unmarked door and stood alone on an empty stage. I loved everything I saw; the lights, the fly space, the proscenium, the counterweights, and all those seats. It was magical. I then came to see the true gift that theatre provides. Since that day I have either worked in or volunteered for the performing arts. By joining me and others with your donation, you help ECA use the magic of theatre to engage, entertain, and bring people together.

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When I was a little girl, my Mom took me to many performances of opera, dance and plays in San Francisco. I believe these early experiences encouraged my appreciation for the performing arts that I still embrace today and why I am so supportive of the amazing variety of artists who entertain us from the stage of Edmonds Center for the Arts. My “claim to fame” is a role in my high school production of “A Thurber Carnival.” Photo: Nancy is to the far left.

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My passion for classical music started at age ten when I began taking violin lessons in my hometown Vantaa in Finland. Lessons at the community music school were free and my teacher, Jorma Rahkonen, was a well-known violinist. I played for 8 years and got a chance to play in two orchestras. Today, it makes me happy to be able to serve ECA as a volunteer and see great performances of a variety of art forms. And now that I’m retired, maybe I’ll start playing again…

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I’ve worked in theatre my entire adult life, mostly behind the scenes supporting the performers. In 1998 I was lucky to be able to go on a Clown Ambassador Tour with Dr. Patch Adams to Russia. There were about 30 of us, for two weeks, visiting nursing homes, hospitals, and even Red Square. Here is a photo at a Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg that was for tuberculosis patients. I was just learning the harmonica and discovered the power of music that transcends language. I was not the most colorful clown, but the music added that magic that made it a celebration.

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I’ve been volunteering since ECA opened. I had moved to Edmonds in 2006 and I couldn’t believe my luck to see a notice that volunteers would be needed for a new performing arts center, opening in 2007. I was raised on many forms of art & my mother was a volunteer at her local theaters. Volunteering at ECA has been one of the most fulfilling things that I do & I have been graced with seeing so many amazing performances.

 

When Jim came on board, to oversee all the volunteers & front of house, ECA changed in a most positive way.  Jim has been a great influence on me and a friend. I’m grateful for all the friendships I’ve made while volunteering and I hope to be a part of ECA for many more years. Photo: Stephanie and ECA Director of Patron Services, Jim Kristian.

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My passion for the arts started at an early age while growing up in a quiet, woodsy suburb of Seattle. It was a highlight for my sister and me when my mother took us to our weekly ballet lessons. We'd sit in the grass and make daisy chains beforehand, and our mom would watch us through the window as we practiced. The class consisted of pliés, jetés, and pirouettes - beautiful words I loved hearing before I learned they were part of the French language. One summer, my sister, cousins and I dressed up and put on a dance show for my family. That was a fun day, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I didn't make a career out of dance, my appreciation for live performance has always been a source of inspiration for me. I realize that you don’t have to be the best dancer in the world because at the end of the day dance is a great way to exercise, stay fit, improve health, build confidence, meet new people and lift your mood. So, when I feel overwhelmed with the problems of the world or my own personal struggles, dance always fills me with joy and reminds me to live more in the present.


These days, I'm getting more involved in the arts as a way to create community and bring all sorts of people together. It fills my heart with gratitude to be able to give back to our community in a way that incorporates the arts and its many gifts. ECA’s mission supports and initiates artistic contribution to the surrounding community and aligns with the needs of its patrons to create outreach and engage future audiences. This vision and activism have established a clear identity for cultural programs, performances, and other events. In addition, the key to the success of these projects is to support not just one body, but many— the city, cultural organizations and institutions, neighborhood groups, artists and the public at large. Photo: Tanya is first left to right.

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This is me and my dad the day he gave me my first guitar. I can look back on that moment as a key turning point that sparked a lifelong passion for playing and discovering music. Now I am fortunate that I get to be a part of a wonderful performing arts center that presents the very best music from all over the world!

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My Mom was a speech and drama teacher early in her career and instilled in us the joy of the dramatic arts. To be transported to a world of wonder through theater and the performing arts was an important part of my childhood. It expanded my world of possibilities and gave me a greater knowledge of cultural differences. Every performance that I have attended at the ECA has touched me with the joy and beauty that only the theater can bring.

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