Heineken City Arts Fest Takes Seattle

There has been an awful lot of tongue-holding going on at the City Arts offices for the past few months. Finding ourselves awash in summer festival mania all spring and summer it has been incredibly difficult to listen to friends, family and fans go on about Sasquatch, Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot, Meltdown, No Depression Fest and all the rest not say, "We have a festival too, and it's not like the rest."

But it was all worth it, just to see the surprise across the Internet to the announcement this morning of Heineken City Arts Fest 2010, the inaugural edition of Seattle's premier indoor urban music and arts festival. Lots of adjectives there, and for good reason, because this festival is not like anything else this city has seen. When we first dreamed it up, soon after last year's merger of City Arts and Sound magazines, we knew we didn't want it to be just another festival to crowd out a calendar already full of fests. We wanted to feed the community that feeds us, so we developed a few parameters that would set this festival apart as well as giving Seattle something that it needed.

1. Celebrate the indoor arts. Bumbershoot helps us all close out the outdoor season -- celebrating the last beams of sunlight and accepting the inevitable rains -- but there has never been a celebration to welcome what that rain brings to the arts and music lover: a season of the arts that bloom indoors and are performed for an audience taking shelter from the city's months-long storm. We have done this by inviting some of the city's great autumnal institutions to take part in the festivities, including Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Art Museum, Northwest Film Forum and many more.

2. Uncover the city. We didn't just want to bring arts lovers out to see the arts, we wanted to invite them into the unique and beautiful buildings that give Seattle its culture and character. While the summer festivals celebrate the streets and centers of the city, we wanted to open arts and music lovers' eyes to see the arts in a different light and maybe explore spaces they had never seen before. We have done this by creating some unique pairings of artist and venue, bringing She & Him to the 5th Avenue Theatre, hosting Northwest hip-hop at the Paramount Theatre, filling Benaroya Hall with the sounds of Belle & Sebastian.

3. Bring City Arts Magazine to life. This was actually the originating idea of the festival. City Arts Magazine is a publication that reflects the vibrant culture of arts and music in this city, bringing all disciplines of the arts in Seattle together, celebrating the common threads that tie them while also recognizing each's individuality. We wanted to not only cover and critique this culture, but add to it by taking advantage of the trends, commonalities and possibilities that have become apparent in our time writing about, photographing and video taping it. So, our organizers created some very unique programming for the festival, from Soliloquy, which will feature non-actors reciting theatre's greatest soliloquies with the assistance of the city's greatest directors; to an unlikely casting of Guys 'n' Dolls; to Walking Tours of the city, led by the city's artists and curators; to the Conversations that will be taking place all weekend long at the Sorrento Hotel. 

That is what we set out to do and I think that we are well on our way to succeeding. There will be more announcements and many more surprises to come, so stay tuned to City Arts Online, as well as the festival website and, for the most up-to-date festival news, the Facebook page.