velocity: opening march 27

VELOCITY

Grand Opening
March 27…the timeline has changed: parade at 5:45; ribbon-cutting at 6:30…see below.
Velocity’s new digs (photo courtesy of Velocity)

article by stephen jeong • timeline change • updated press release • press release

ARTICLE

Velocity’s new space (photo courtesy of Velocity)
What’s Behind the Move
By Stephen Jeong

Sometimes you don’t fully appreciate what you have until you’re faced with the threat of losing it.
This was certainly the case with Velocity Dance Center. Housed in the historic Odd Fellows Building in Capitol Hill since its inception in 1996, Velocity’s mission is to promote contemporary dance by providing subsidized rehearsal space, offering dance classes, producing innovative work, and supporting dancers and choreographers. In November of 2007, Velocity’s future hung in the balance: Paul Verba and David Angel sold the Odd Fellows Building for $8 million to developer Ted Schroth, who had previously managed the refurbishment of Trace Lofts on 12th Ave and East Madison. For that very premium price, it was speculated that Schroth intended to follow the model for the Trace Lofts by renovating the building into high-end condominiums. But then the housing bubble burst and the economy tanked dramatically after the purchase, and it’s possible that a conversion was no longer tenable. Shortly after the sale, Schroth notified Velocity Dance and the building’s other tenants, many of whom were other nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists, that their rents were to increase upwards of 300% to match current market rates. The affordable rents and large open spaces at Odd Fellows Hall that had previously created an environment hospitable to cultivating artists was lost, and now Velocity—along with Freehold Theatre, Century Ballroom, and many individual artists—were faced with the reality of being homeless. It was like witnessing all the negative aspects of gentrification occurring in the microcosm of that one building.
Kara O’Toole, Velocity’s executive director, thought that she could bargain with Ted Schroth to be able to stay in the building, but negotiations failed when Schroth refused to budge from the 300% increase. Velocity was faced with the imminent crisis of being a dance center without a center.
Velocity’s board of directors began to meet weekly with O’Toole and the staff to discuss the exigencies of planning for something that was so unexpected. Staff and programming had to be cut, and Velocity forfeited some of its space in order to reduce costs for the unforeseeable future; this in turn significantly reduced Velocity’s earned income, which meant that the organization had a diminished operating budget with which to conduct a search for a new home and ultimately move. Velocity’s constituents were frightened and angry at Odd Fellow’s sale and some thought that Velocity and/or the City should fight for the return of the building to the community of its tenants. Ann Donovan, a former board member of Velocity Dance, established the “Save Odd Fellows Hall” group to protect the building as an art space; they had the incredible goal of raising enough funds to ultimately buy back the building. But the original sale of the building was legal, and Schroth had no intention of selling the building.
This series of events was a wake-up call to the city that our communities were losing and pushing out the very cultural assets that attracted people to move into the neighborhoods in the first place. Velocity Dance and Freehold theatre became the poster children of what could happen if market conditions alone were allowed to prevail and shape our community. Town Hall and City Hall meetings solicited passionate outcries to preserve the artistic and cultural character of our neighborhoods by making affordable spaces for artist housing as well as for performance and rehearsal. Councilmember Nick Licata, who chairs the City’s arts committee, spearheaded the drive for the City to create a cultural overlay district, with Capitol Hill as the pilot neighborhood. Licata assembled the Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee (CODAC)—made up of developers, artists, arts administrators, politicians, and arts advocates—to make recommendations to City Council for how to manage the changing arts climate and landscape amidst the economic pressures faced by artists and arts organizations. These recommendations are currently being deliberated by the Mayor’s Office, City Council, and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

The old CHAC / soon to be new Velocity (photo courtesy of Velocity)

Meanwhile, Velocity engaged in a tireless search for a new home in order to preserve the organization’s mission. An Allen Foundation grant earmarked for capacity-building was allowed to be redirected towards Velocity’s capital campaign. 4Culture came through with emergency funds to be used for future moving and renovation expenses. Velocity board members were extremely responsive and generous by purchasing CDs at a local bank as collateral for a line of credit for the organization. Several locations were explored with the possibility of housing Velocity, including Washington Hall on 14th and Fir, which was the former location for On The Boards. Ultimately, Velocity’s new home was sitting under its proverbial nose. The former location for the Capitol Hill Arts Center on 12th was just a few blocks away, and it fulfilled Velocity’s desire to stay within the city center, and within access of its existing community of dancers, choreographers, and supporters. The building’s owner, Elizabeth Linke, is very sympathetic to arts organizations and Velocity has signed a 10-year lease with an option for an additional five years.

(photo courtesy of Velocity)

While the new space is 1,000 square feet smaller than Velocity’s previous headquarters, it is more efficient and has the advantage of giving the organization street-level visibility. Architect Colin Walker of the design firm NBBJ lent his design services pro-bono to the organization to bring the space up to code, to design the office, lobby, storage and changing rooms, and to convert the existing areas into three studios, one of which will be convertible to a 100-seat theater; ad. The studios all have amazingly high ceilings with beautiful light afforded by generous skylights and large windows that open onto picturesque Cal Anderson Park. It’s a promising new start for the 14-year-old organization, and to celebrate, Velocity is hosting a parade, ribbon-cutting ceremony, and party on March 27th, with free classes and studio rentals throughout the first week.

NEW TIMELINE…FROM 3/23 PRESS NOTICE:
5:00 Pre-parade gathering at Odd Fellows Building

5:45 Victory Parade up Pine Street with chairs and balloons, led by a marching band and joined by Mayor Mike McGinn, a moped gang and tons of dancers, neighbors and friends
6:30 Ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor McGinn, followed by improv performance by KT Niehoff and others in Velocity’s new Founder’s Theater 

6:45 Welcome, featuring performance by KT Niehoff and remarks by Michael Killoren, Pat Graney and Michael Seiwerath
7:00 Three Ring Circus Party with Airpocalypse, Merce Cunningham Duo, MadRad DJs and dance acts including Jill Marissa of the aerialist group Tick Tock Dance and Cherdonna and Lou


NEW PRESS RELEASE, FROM MARCH 18

(verbatim)

Seattle, WA — March 18, 2010 — With Mayor Mike McGinn in attendance, Velocity Dance Center’s upcoming move from the Odd Fellows Building to a new home at 1621 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill counts as a victory for artists, residents and civic leaders seeking to ensure the long-term vitality of arts and culture in the neighborhood.

Velocity’s move will be celebrated March 27, 2010 with a parade and ribbon cutting; a circus-themed party produced by The Adventure School follows, kicking off a full week of free events and classes in the new space (full schedule below).

Since 1996, Velocity Dance Center has been a hub for Seattle’s contemporary dance community. When the 2007 sale of the Odd Fellows Building and a subsequent 300 percent rent increase forced the organization into homelessness, the future of Velocity—and other resident arts groups—appeared bleak. But Velocity responded with a spirited quest for a new home that would serve the community for years to come. To date, the Velocity Forever Campaign has raised $420,000—more than 50 percent of its goal—and the new space is ready to be unveiled.

The Greatest Move on Earth

Velocity’s Grand Opening Celebration

Schedule of events: March 27-April 4, 2010

Saturday March 27 (All events are free and all-ages)

5:30pm* – VICTORY PARADE from the Odd Fellows Building at 915 East Pine to Velocity’s new home at 1621 12th Avenue, featuring:

    * Marching band

    * Moped gang

    * Surprise performers

    * Contingents of dance companies and partner arts organizations

    * Mayor Mike McGinn

*Parade participants will be gathering 5pm on the 3rd Floor of the Odd Fellows Building

6:00 pm – RIBBON CUTTING

Dance supporters and civic luminaries christen Velocity’s new home in a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1621 12th Avenue.

7–11pm – THREE RING CIRCUS PARTY  (Free; all ages)

Featuring:

    * Airpocalypse

    * Secret dance performances

    * Merce Cunningham Duo

    * DJs from Mad Rad

    * Food and drinks

Sunday March 28–Saturday April 3 2010

FREE CLASSES (Open to students 16 and older)

Velocity offers its full line-up of ongoing classes free from March 28th until Saturday April 3rd. Featuring classes for adults (16yrs and older) in modern dance, ballet, yoga, hip-hop, West African, breakdancing and more. Please continue to check our class schedule for the latest updates & learn about our class levels to find the class appropriate for you. There is no pre-registration, dress code or required footware for classes.

Saturday April 3 and Sunday April 4

BENEFIT MASTER CLASS  ($20 per class; open to students 16 and older )

All proceeds go toward the Velocity Forever Capital Campaign

Saturday April 3: Founders Studio

2–3:30pm

Advanced Modern

Michelle Miller

3:30–5pm

Intermediate Modern

Ellie Sandstrom

Sunday April 4: Founders Studio

12–1:30pm                                                                    

Intermediate/Advanced Ballet          

Hannah Wiley with Paul Moore

All Week

FREE STUDIO SPACE FOR ARTISTS

Velocity’s beautiful new studios are offered at no cost to artists on a first-come, first-served basis (10 hours maximum per artist).

“Velocity is at the very heart of dance in Seattle.”

– PETER BOAL, Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet

The Velocity Forever campaign has received support from 4Culture, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and others, including generous individual gifts. The Greatest Move on Earth is being supported by many local businesses, including Pacific Continental Bank, Laredo’s Grille, Mighty-O Donuts and the Adventure School.
OLD PRESS RELEASE
(verbatim)
“THE GREATEST MOVE ON EARTH
Velocityʼs Grand Opening Celebration
March 27-April 4, 2010
A week of free events and classes to celebrate
Velocity Dance Centerʼs move to its new home
at 1621 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill
Seattle, WA — February 17, 2010 — Velocity Dance Center will celebrate its move from the Odd Fellows Building to a stunning new home at 1621 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill with a parade, ribbon cutting and circus-themed party on March 27, 2010. The parade, featuring surprise guests, kicks off a full week of free events and classes March 27–April 4, 2010.
Since 1996, Velocity Dance Center has been a hub for Seattleʼs contemporary dance
community. When the sale of the Odd Fellows Building and a subsequent 300 percent rent increase forced the organization out of its original facility in 2008, Velocity responded with a spirited quest for a new home that would serve the community for years to come. To date, the Velocity Forever Campaign has raised $420,000—more than 50 percent of its goal—and
the fabulous new space is ready to be unveiled.
Velocityʼs Grand Opening Celebration is a milestone for the Seattle contemporary dance community, signaling the start of a vibrant and sustainable future for one of the communityʼs most essential dance resources. Reflecting the organizationʼs 14-year commitment, Velocity will mark this momentous occasion by offering classes, programs, and studio time—for free—as a way to thank our supporters and welcome dance lovers to our spectacular new facility.
The Greatest Move on Earth
Velocityʼs Grand Opening Celebration
Schedule of events: March 27-April 4, 2010
Saturday March 27
5:30 pm – PARADE
The Velocity family—teachers, students, artists, supporters and audience—gathers at the Odd Fellows Building to form a theatrical and highly visible migration from the organizationʼs old facility to our new home at 1621 12th Avenue.
6:00 pm – RIBBON CUTTING
Media, donors and community luminaries are invited to help christen Velocityʼs new home in a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1621 12th Avenue.

7–11pm – GRAND OPENING PARTY (Free)
The community gathers for a free, circus-infused soiree produced by The Adventure School. Music, food and fun are punctuated by performances and testimonials from Velocityʼs family of artists and supporters.
Sunday March 28–Saturday April 3 2010
FREE CLASSES
Velocity offers its full line-up of ongoing classes free for one full week. Featuring Velocityʼs favorite teachers of modern, ballet, yoga, hip-hop, West African, breakdancing and more.
Saturday April 3 and Sunday April 4
MASTER CLASSES 2:30-6:30pm – Teachers TBA
All Week
FREE STUDIO SPACE FOR ARTISTS
Velocityʼs beautiful new studios are offered at no cost to artists on a first-come, first-served basis (10 hours maximum per artist).
“Velocity is at the very heart of dance in Seattle.”
– PETER BOAL, Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet
I cannot overstate the importance of Velocity in the dance ecology in the Pacific North West and the nation.”
-JANE FORDE, Manager, National Dance Project
“At this stage in the game there is no dance community without Velocity.”
-WADE MADSEN, Velocity teacher, Cornish Dance Faculty, Choreographer
The Velocity Forever campaign has received support from 4Culture, The Paul G. Allen
Family Foundation and others, including generous individual gifts.”

One comment

  1. Great overview of the last few years. I’d also like to add that our general contractor Model/ReModel played a significant role in the process and were a fantastic resource.

    Josh Windsor
    Board Member
    Velocity Dance Center

Comments are closed.