Urban Politics #221: Live Theater Week

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.  With contributions from Theatre Communications Group’s Gigi Bolt and my assistant Frank Video.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.






Two events are taking place this week to celebrate live theatre in Seattle.

Live Theatre Week is organized by Karen Zeller Lane, executive director of Theatre Puget Sound (TPS), and runs from October 16th to the 22nd.

The intent of Live Theatre Week is to provide a showcase for Seattle’s diverse range of theatre programming, promote and increase live theater attendance, generate excitement, and demonstrate the political relevance of live theatre in order to ultimately add to our city’s quality of life and strengthen our economic viability.

Free Night of Theater is organized by Gigi Bolt, interim executive director of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) in New York City. TCG is the national organization for not-for-profit theatres. Free Night of Theater offers free admission to a number of Seattle theatres one night only – tomorrow, Thursday, October 19th.


Visit http://seattleperforms.com/ltw/, at TPS’s Seattle Performs web site, for up-to-date information on where and how to get free admission tickets for Free Night of Theatre and Live Theatre Week events happening this week.


In late 2004, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published my editorial on the near-death of one of America’s most acclaimed leading-edge theatre companies, Seattle’s Empty Space. It was on the verge of collapsing then under the weight of a $300,000 deficit. The Empty Space rebounded after receiving wide-spread publicity on its troubles. During this time, I held a series of meetings with local theatre leaders and we all agreed that a new approach to proactively promoting theatre was important to its present survival and future growth. Live Theatre Week was born out of those meetings.

In early 2005, I sponsored a council resolution that established Live Theatre Week in Seattle to be observed each April. This past October 9th, it was amended to October of each year in order to coincide with TCG’s nation-wide Free Night of Theatre.

Chicago, Cleveland, and Oakland passed similar legislation celebrating live theater in their cities. And Olympia and Edmonds in Washington State established Live Theatre Weeks this year to coincide with Seattle’s.

The same year local theatre leaders and I initiated Live Theatre Week here in Seattle, TCG launched the pilot program that became this year’s Free Night of Theater. It has made available 25,000 tickets to performances at over 400 theatres in 16 communities throughout the country. In Seattle, 40 theatre companies have offered up 2,673 free tickets to 59 performances.

The national theatre community contributes significantly to our economic health, generating billions of dollars each year while reaching 32.5 million people through performances on 1,500 stages nationwide.

In Seattle, ArtsFund, a major regional arts funder, determined that the arts had a $1 billion impact on Washington State’s economy in 2003. ArtsFund’s Economic Impact Study of Arts and Cultural Organizations for that year reports that live theatre in King County, which includes Seattle, attracted the highest number of patrons of any other arts or cultural category surveyed – 2,286,429 – while generating $77,800,000 in spending.

For more information on Theatre Puget Sound, visit them at http://tpsonline.org/. You can learn more about Theater Communications Group at http://www.tcg.org/.

Keep in touch…


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